What Is The Proper Following Distance Behind a Motorcyclist?

Most people are familiar with the two-second rule. This distance is proper for following another four-wheel vehicle. But a four second following distance is usually the proper following distance behind a motorcyclist. Certain factors, mostly adverse environmental conditions, might dictate a longer following distance. Vehicle operators almost always apply their brakes to stop or slow down. But motorcycles are different. These vehicles are much lighter so, sudden speed changes are difficult. As a result, many riders downshift or coast to slow down or stop. Their brake lights never come on, so trailing drivers might have little or no warning when motorcycles change speeds. Additionally, if the driver is distracted texting, the motorcyclist would be at an even higher risk

Maintaining a proper following distance behind a motorcyclist is part of the duty of reasonable care. If a driver breaches this legal duty, and that breach causes injury, like a rear-end collision, that driver might be legally responsible for motorcycle crash damages. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Motorcycle Wreck Injuries

Riders are twenty-seven times more likely to die in roadway crashes than vehicle operators. Multiple restraint layers and steel cages usually protect vehicle occupants in collisions. But motorcycle riders are completely exposed to danger. This exposure usually leads to serious injuries like:

  • Exsanguination: Blood loss is usually the official cause of death in motorcycle crash cases. When riders fall off their bikes, as is almost always the case, the motion causes internal organs to bump and grind against each other. As a result, they bleed excessively, often to the point of hypovolemic shock.
  • Head Injuries: This same sudden, violent motion often causes head injuries. The fall and landing slams the brain against the inside of the skull. Just like shaking an egg scrambles the yolk without cracking the shell, shaking the head scrambles the brain without breaking the skull.
  • Broken Bones: Even if the rider survives the wreck, the fall often shatters bones. So, doctors must use metal pins or plates to set the bones. And, the victims must go through months of painful and expensive physical therapy.

All these injuries are incredibly costly. In fact, the average hospital bill in serious injury cases often exceeds $100,000. A Raleigh personal injury attorney can usually arrange for victims to receive the required treatment and therapy at no upfront cost.

Rear End Crashes and The Sudden Emergency Defense

If a driver rear-ends a motorcyclist, the driver is not always responsible for damages, because of the sudden emergency doctrine. This legal loophole excuses negligent conduct if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency.

In rear-end collision cases, insurance company lawyers often argue that the motorcyclist stopped short, and therefore a crash was inevitable. But, a sudden stop is usually not a sudden emergency in this context. This label is reserved for lightning strikes, hood fly-ups, and other completely unexpected situations. Drivers should be prepared for things like slow-moving vehicles. That’s especially true with regard to motorcycles, because as mentioned above, riders do not always apply the brakes to slow down.

An improper following distance behind a motorcyclist makes it easier for an attorney to refute the sudden emergency defense. If the driver was tailgating the rider, any “sudden emergency” was the tortfeasor’s fault. Drivers cannot manufacture their own sudden emergencies and expect to avoid liability.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Cary Today!

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, or an Uber accident, schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Raleigh. Fill out the form below, or call us at (919) 228-4487.

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