Drunk Drivers Pose a Deadly Hazard to Motorcyclists

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Over the summer months, more people drink alcohol at parties and more motorcyclists take to the highways. This is a potentially deadly combination for riders. 

A terrible tragedy in June in which a pickup truck driver killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire graphically illustrated the problem. 

The driver of the pickup truck was charged with seven counts of negligent homicide, ABC News reported. 

Police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts, according to the New Hampshire attorney general's office. Lawyers acting for Zhukovskyy said he denied being drunk. Prosecutors said the pickup truck driver refused to submit to a DUI blood test after the fatal crash. 

The ABC News report stated Connecticut prosecutors said Zhukovskyy was arrested just over a month before the crash on May 11 in a Walmart parking lot after failing a sobriety test. Police responded to reports of a man who was revving his engine and jumping up and down outside his pickup truck.           

Police said Zhukovskyy drove for a commercial company. Media reports revealed the company was cited for violations over the last few years including two instances when drivers were accused of being in possession of narcotic drugs.                 

The horrendous crash in New Hampshire highlights how drunk drivers pose a deadly hazard to motorcyclists. Riders are more vulnerable than car drivers and passengers when they are involved in an accident. Every year, riders are killed by drunk drivers in cities like Newport News, Hampton, and Richmond.                 

Virginia typically sees a spike in motorcycle crashes over the summer months. In 2017, crashes claimed the lives of 107 riders, a 10-year high and a rise of almost 50 percent on the previous year. 

In 2018, Virginia saw 1,792 motorcycle crashes, a 15.5% decrease on 2017, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle’s (DMV) Crash Facts report. The 88 motorcyclist deaths in 2018 represented a 17.8% decrease compared to 2017. 

Drunk drivers often cause terrible injuries to motorcyclists. In 2018, a woman was charged with DUI for causing a wreck that left a motorcyclist seriously injured in Chesterfield County. 

The motorcyclist was hit head-on by a driver driving the wrong way on Route 10 in Chesterfield County. According to a GoFundMe page, the rider suffered road rash and a broken pelvis. 

Statistically, motorcyclists are more likely to be killed in accidents than the occupants of cars.  According to Forbes, fatal accidents occur on motorcycles 28 times more often than in cars where occupants receive protection from a metal frame. 

A report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found a high proportion of motorcyclists who end up dead on our roads drank alcohol. About 25% of riders in fatal wrecks had a blood/alcohol content of above 0.08, the legal limit to drive. 

Distracted riding is another problem. Virginia reported a doubling in the number of distracted riding deaths from 2016 to 2017. 

Some states are moving to tackle the problem of alcohol and riders by installing ignition interlock devices on bikes.                 

Why Wearing a Helmet Can Protect you in a Motorcycle Accident in Virginia 

Many motorcyclist deaths are caused by brain injuries. Wearing a helmet can protect the rider from a severe head injury. It’s also mandatory to wear a helmet in Virginia. 

Riders are particularly vulnerable to inattentive or drunk drivers. A helmet will not guarantee your safety but will increase your odds of surviving a motorcycle wreck. 

If you have lost a family member in a motorcycle crash, a negligent or a drunk driver may be to blame. Talk to our experienced trial lawyers about suing the at-fault driver for your loss. Contact the Smith Law Center at 757.244.7000.