A recent multi-vehicle accident in Tampa illustrates how quickly people can be killed or injured in motorcycle accidents.
The death of Kristopher Graham, 20, of Tampa, as described by WFLA News Channel 8 had some of the most dangerous elements of roadway traffic that motorcyclists face: a motorist making a left turn across traffic and at an intersection. A second biker, Antoine Jones, 22, of Tampa, also suffered minor injuries in the accident.
According to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office news release, Graham and Jones were southbound on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard in the inside lane at about 5 p.m. on June 27. Geraldine Bedford, 80, was northbound on Bruce B. Downs and attempted to make a left turn into the University Plaza shopping center.
Bedford turned into Graham’s path, the sheriff’s office said. Graham attempted to avoid the crash but was unable to, and struck the passenger side of Bedford’s car, a Toyota Camry. Graham died at the scene.
Jones, who was behind Graham, struck Graham’s downed bike and crashed. Jones suffered road burns to his arms and legs and was treated and released at Florida Hospital Tampa, which is within a block of where the accident occurred.
Motorcycle accidents often involve a vehicle making a left turn. In its 2015 report about motorcycle accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 42 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involving multiple vehicles in 2013, the other vehicles were turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.
The RideApart motorcyclist website calls a car making a left turn across a motorcyclist’s path the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. “A car fails to see you or judges your speed incorrectly, turning in front of you at an intersection. Blame inattention, distraction, blind spots and even psychology. A driver scanning the roadway for cars perceives merely an absence of cars and overlooks the presence of a motorcycle.”
To avoid left-turn accidents, motorcyclists must remain alert for situations that present collision hazards and drive defensively to avoid accidents.
In its Motorcycle Operator Manual, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) says that the most significant potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. Cars that turn left in front of you, including cars turning left from the lane on your right, and cars on side streets that pull into your lane, are the biggest dangers.
The Foundation says that all too frequently a driver looks directly at a motorcyclist and fails to see him or her. It’s best to ride assuming that a car may turn into your path and knowing how you will react to avoid it.
The MSF manual says when approaching an intersection where a vehicle driver may be preparing to cross your path:
- Slow down and select a lane position that increases your visibility to that driver.
- Cover your clutch lever and both brakes to reduce reaction time.
- Upon entering the intersection, move away from the vehicle.
- Do not change speed or position radically or the driver might think you are preparing to turn.
- Be prepared to brake hard and hold your position if an oncoming vehicle turns in front of you, especially if there is other traffic around you.
The family of a motorcyclist who has been injured or killed in an accident caused by the negligence of another motorist may have a legal right to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one. An experienced Tampa motorcycle accident lawyer can review the specifics of the accident and explain your legal options.