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Five Ways Motorcyclists Can Stay Safe This WinterMany motorcycle riders choose to lock up their bikes for the season when the weather turns cold and icy. For those die-hards who ride year-round, safety is paramount. Driving conditions have deteriorated for everyone on the road, and motorcycles may not get the same amount of traction that riders are used to. Here are five tips for motorcycle safety during winter weather:

  1. Check Your Tires Before Riding: It is important that your tires are in good condition before you head out onto the slick roads. Make sure that your treads have not worn down, and check your tire pressure, which may be low because of the cold. You need as much traction as you can get.
  2. Be Equipped for the Weather: The basic safety gear remains the same for winter motorcycle rides, such as a helmet and jacket. However, you must also dress to keep yourself warm. Numbness in your hands or feet may impair your ability to control your bike. You can protect yourself from the elements by using additional wind guards and heated grips.
  3. Help Your Bike Warm Up: Your motorcycle will get warmer as you continue to run it, but it will not take long for it to cool down. Stopping at an intersection may be enough time for your tires to cool, decreasing your traction once you starting moving again. Some riders sway to retain heat, while others quickly accelerate and decelerate a couple of times. You may need to simply be cautious as you wait for your bike to warm up again.
  4. Take It Slow: You will face more road hazards than normal, such as icy roads and cracks created by snow plows. Riding at a slow speed can help you maintain control of your bike when you encounter these hazards. Give more space to the vehicles in front of you because your decreased traction means you need more time to brake. Be smooth when accelerating, braking, or making turns.
  5. Avoid the Snow: Snowstorms can create the slickest road conditions and decrease your visibility. Your best safety precaution is to not ride your bike if there is a chance of snow. If it starts snowing while you are riding, you need to either slow down or stop somewhere to wait out the storm.

Contact a Crystal Lake Personal Injury Attorney

You are responsible for your own medical expenses if you are injured in a motorcycle accident caused by wintery conditions or your own negligence. However, another party may be liable if he or she caused your accident. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive injury compensation for your motorcycle accident. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury PlaintiffsThe legal distinction between a sidewalk and other walking surfaces may determine the success of your personal injury case. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that property owners who remove snow from sidewalks abutting their properties are not liable if someone is injured because of icy conditions created by the snow removal. This legal immunity makes it difficult for people to receive personal injury compensation when they slip and fall because of an untreated accumulation of ice. However, some Illinois courts strictly interpret the law as applying only to sidewalks and not other paved surfaces.

Liability Standard

Illinois law does not require property owners to clear the snow off of their walkways or hold them liable for personal injuries on their property caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. Before the Snow and Ice Removal Act, personal injury victims could claim that property owners who cleared snow from their sidewalks created an unnatural accumulation of snow. The melting snow piles caused icy conditions on sidewalks. The Snow and Ice Removal Act changed the liability standard, and property owners are now liable only if:

  • They willfully or wantonly created the hazardous condition; or
  • Negligence in the condition of the property caused an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.

Thus, property owners are not liable for the melt off from a pile of snow they have created, but they may be liable if a malfunctioning gutter system caused the ice accumulation.

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Personal Injury Risks of Riding in a LimousineTwenty people died as a result of a recent stretch limousine accident in New York, highlighting the potential dangers of these vehicles. Renting a limousine seems like a practical and responsible action for a large group of people going out for an evening of fun that may involve alcohol. In the case of the New York accident, 17 friends were heading for a birthday party at a brewery. Stretch limousines do not follow the same safety regulations as normal vehicles. As a result, passengers can be at greater risk of suffering injuries during a crash.

Design

Major car manufacturers do not produce the stretch limousines that you see on the road. Limousines are normal vehicles that have been extended by cutting the vehicle in half and adding a longer middle section. The smaller company that made the limousine may have removed some of the safety features that the vehicle needed to pass federal safety standards, such as:

  • Side-impact airbags;
  • Reinforced rollover bars; and
  • Easily accessible exits.

There are no federal safety standards when a vehicle is modified into a limousine. Illinois requires modified vehicles to be inspected every six months but puts no limit on how large a modified limousine can be.

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Safety Features Could Reduce Crashes with Large TrucksFrom 2005 to 2009, the number of driving fatalities from accidents with large trucks precipitously dropped from 5,049 to 3,147 people, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Since then, the fatalities have increased to 3,986 people in 2016, and the number of truck-related accidents has also increased. Safety experts often blame distracted driving for increases in accident rates. Drivers of both trucks and smaller vehicles may be paying too much attention to electronic devices in their vehicles. Other safety advocates believe mandatory safety standards for all trucks in the U.S. could decrease the number of fatalities and serious injuries.

Safety Devices and Rules

Some trucking companies have voluntarily installed equipment on their vehicles that safety studies have concluded reduce the number and severity of crashes. Safety advocates, such as the Truck Safety Coalition, focus on three devices that they believe federal regulators should make mandatory for all trucks:

  1. Automatic Emergency Braking: An automatic braking system could prevent trucks from rear-ending vehicles. Truck drivers need to respond quickly when braking because the size of the vehicle makes it take longer to stop.
  2. Front and Side Underride Guards: Smaller vehicles can suffer severe damage if they slide underneath a truck during an accident. The U.S. already requires rear underride guards on trucks, but guards on the front and sides could protect drivers from more angles.
  3. Speed Limiters: A speed limiter prevents a truck from exceeding a certain speed, making it slightly less dangerous in the event of an accident. Advocates would like the device to cap trucks’ maximum speed to 60 miles per hour.

Safety advocates also oppose any legislation that would increase the maximum allowed size of large trucks. Bigger and longer trucks would take even more time stop and would have larger blind spots. A heavier truck crashing into a vehicle would cause a more severe impact and injuries.

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Sun Glare Does Not Waive Vehicle Accident LiabilitySun glare can be just as dangerous of a vision hazard while driving as heavy rain or fog. National traffic crash studies estimate that sun glare causes a couple hundred accidents each year, but the number may not represent all of the sun-related crashes because police reports often cite other factors as the cause. Sun glare can temporarily blind you to obstacles in the road and is most prevalent at dawn and dusk during the spring and fall months. Drivers cannot use sun glare blindness as a defense against liability for a traffic crash that they caused.

Preventing Glare

You are expected to take necessary safety precautions against being blinded by sun glare or causing an accident if you are blinded. Unlike with severe weather, sun glare is not legally an “Act of God” that makes you unable to control your driving. There are several ways you can protect yourself and other drivers:

  1. Wear Polarized Sunglasses: Completely polarized sunglasses should eliminate the glare on your eyes, though you may still not have optimal vision.
  2. Clear Off Your Dashboard: Reflective objects on your dashboard can shine the sunlight onto your windshield and into your eyes.
  3. Use Additional Sun Visors: The standard sun visors in a vehicle may not deflect the sun from all angles. Installing additional sun visors can cover the gaps.
  4. Clean Your Windshield: Streaks and marks on your windshield can make the glare worse and reduce your visibility further.
  5. Change Your Driving Route: The sun will always rise from the east in the morning and set in the west during the evening. You can try to avoid driving in a direction that makes you face the sun.
  6. Drive at a Different Time: You can adjust your driving schedule so you are not traveling during the morning and evening hours when the sun glare is at its worst.

If the sun glare is blinding you, you should reduce your driving speed or pull over and stop. You cannot expect your visibility to suddenly improve.

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