For all vehicles, red-light/intersection crashes are more likely to occur than any other type of crash, causing injuries and death. In fact, a driver runs a red light at an urban intersection approximately every 20 minutes. The leading excuse for running red lights is “I was in a hurry,” which puts forth the concept that one driver’s time is worth more than another driver’s safety–or life. A second group of red-light runners are the distracted drivers who were paying attention to something other than the road and other drivers.
While red light accidents can be dangerous or fatal in all instances, motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable group, along with bicyclists and pedestrians. A motorcycle may be stopped at a red light when an automobile driver who has his or her mind elsewhere fails to consider the necessary stopping distance, and hits the biker from behind. The motorcycle is pushed forward into oncoming traffic, and the biker is thrown from the cycle. Both of these actions can lead to extremely serious injuries, including head trauma, amputated limbs, and spinal cord injuries. A motorcyclist has virtually no protection during a collision as opposed to an automobile driver who has roughly 3,500 pounds of steel and glass surrounding them, as well as safety belts and airbags. The motorcyclist has only a helmet–if worn–and perhaps leathers to protect the extremities from road rash.
While red light accidents are certainly dangerous to motorcyclists, Miami intersections in general are extremely risky areas for motorcycle riders. Intersection accidents can occur when the vehicle driver fails to yield the right-of-way at the intersection or attempts to “beat” a red light, speeding through the intersection. In many instances the automobile driver will make a left hand turn in the intersection, failing to accurately judge the distance of an oncoming motorcyclist or may rear-end a motorcyclist stopped at an intersection due to some form of distracted driving. Inattentive or distracted drivers cause the highest number of accidents at intersections and red lights, as motorcycles in Miami have such a small profile that even a few seconds of inattention can result in a serious or fatal collision.
Distractions for automobile drivers can include: cell phone use (whether talking or texting), changing radio stations, watching something happening by the side of the road, turning around to scold or check on children, attempting to read a map or GPS, eating or talking to passengers in the vehicle. In particular, texting has been found to be more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. A person will take their attention from the road for a good five seconds while reading or sending a text–at 55 mph, a car will travel the length of a football field in five seconds.
There is one other issue associated with motorcycles and red lights: some red lights are “demand actuated” which means they will only turn greed when there is a vehicle stopped in front of them. A metal wire in the ground “feels” the vehicle through a magnetic field, however the metal mass of a motorcycle is far less than that of a car, therefore the green light may not “trip.” The problem with this is that the motorcyclist may end up with impatient automobile drivers behind him or her, with no way to trip the green light other than to attempt to move aside and allow a car to drive up and trip the light.
Motorcyclists in Miami who have been injured by a negligent or distracted automobile driver at a red light or intersection must speak to an experienced Miami personal injury attorney at the earliest possible opportunity in order to ensure equitable compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. Miami motorcycle accidents can be difficult and require an attorney with extensive experience in motorcycle accident law. Insurance companies often attempt to “lowball” motorcycle accident victims and rarely offer a settlement that is enough to cover all accident expenses.