Our Panama City accident law firm was saddened to read of a recent ride that ended in tragedy for a local motorcycle rider. According to the News Herald, the accident occurred on Sunday evening on U.S. 98 near Lisenby Avenue. The motorcycle was headed east when an SUV attempted to turn into a K-Mart parking lot from the westbound lanes. The Jeep Wrangler hit the bike, sending the rider to the hospital with serious injuries. Investigators took the driver into custody in order to determine if the female driver was under the influence of alcohol.
Despite the widespread knowledge that drinking and driving don't mix, impaired driving remains one of the most common and deadliest crimes. In 2006 alone, more than 13,000 people died from highway accidents involving either a driver or motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol concentration ("BAC") above .08. While early reports suggest the SUV driver in the recent Panama City crash may have been the impaired operator, it is important to remember that riding while intoxicated is also very dangerous. In fact, the percentage of fatal motorcycle wrecks involving a drunk rider is higher that the percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes. In 2006, 27% of motorcycle fatalities involved an operator with a BAC of .08 or higher. For passenger car drivers, the equivalent number was 23%, and 24% of light truck fatalities involved a drunk driver. An additional 7% of fatally injured motorcycle operators had BACs between .01 and .07.
Drunk drivers are hazardous to riders, who are more exposed to their environment than those in other vehicles. Drunk riders are also a concern. Alcohol inhibits several skills essential to good riding, such as balance and coordination. In 2006, there were 2,007 fatal single-vehicle motorcycle crashes and 41% of those involved had BAC levels at or above .08. For all motorcycle crashes that were fatal to the rider, those occurring at night were 3 times more likely to have riders with a BAC of .08 or higher. The costs, both emotional and financial, of drunk riding extend beyond the rider himself, impacting loved ones as well. Drunk riding can also pose a danger to other riders, drivers, and pedestrians.
For over 30 years, The Pittman Firm has advocated for people injured in Panama City motorcycle accidents. Many of our clients tell us that riding is more than just a form of transportation. It can be a hobby, a way of life, and a passion. In many cases, the accident stems from a driver's negligence, including the misuse of alcohol. From 2000 to 2008, the number of motorcycle crashes from any cause nearly doubled. Thankfully, this trend reversed and the number decreased over 22% in the next two years. However, motorcycle accidents remain a very real problem.
We represent many injured riders who did everything right, but we also represent those harmed by a negligent rider. Motorcycle riders must also follow safe operating practices. Ultimately, our job is to help victims by advocating for them in negotiations and court-based proceedings. Please call if we can help you.