Does Your Kid Have a Poor Driving Record? | Born To Ride Motorcycle Magazine - Motorcycle TV, Radio, Events, News and Motorcycle Blog

Does Your Kid Have a Poor Driving Record?

Published on March 10, 2015 under Born To Ride
Does Your Kid Have a Poor Driving Record?

I occasionally assist attorneys with motorcycle crash cases as an expert witness.  Back in 2010, I was involved in a case where a 20-year-old rider on a Hayabusa broad sided an 18-wheeler. The impact speed was estimated at 75 mph. The rider was killed almost instantly. His speed prior to impact was estimated to be around 100 mph. The speed limit on this road was 45 mph and the rider had a clear line of sight of at least ¼ mile and it was a bright and clear day.

The rider’s mother was suing the company that owned the truck for several million dollars, alleging the truck driver violated her son’s right of way.

The facts of the case actually showed the rider was travelling at more than twice the speed limit in the right lane and changed into the left lane just prior to impact.  A witness to the incident stated it appeared the motorcyclist wanted to go under the trailer of the truck. In other words, had the rider stayed in the right lane he would not have struck the truck.

The question for me was why would a rider switch lanes and crash into the truck?  The answer to me was clear. The rider had no concept of counter-steering. He was actually trying to go to the right portion of his lane by attempting to turn the handlebars to the right. When he turned the bars to the right, the bike leaned left and went directly into the truck. Sixty feet before impact and in a panic, he locked the rear tire which slowed him down to the impact speed of 75 mph.

I brought a set of motorcycle handlebars to the trial and explained to the jurors how in order to turn at speeds above 15 mph, a motorcycle must be forced to lean. By turning the bars to the right, the motorcycle actually leaned left and turned left. In essence, the rider’s lack of skill and his excessive speed is what caused the fatal crash.

The jurors understood and found the deceased rider was at fault, not the truck driver or the deep pockets of the company that owned the truck. Thus, the deceased rider’s mother received no settlement.
Sometime later, the jurors’ verdict was thrown out due to testimony a witness had given which the judge ordered the jury should not have heard. Rather than go through the expense of another trial, the case was settled when deep pockets agreed to hand over $175,000. An amount considerably less than the millions she had sued the company in the first trial.

I of course understand the horrible grief this poor women was going through; there’s more to the story.
Her son had no motorcycle license. In fact, his regular driver’s license had been suspended for excessive points, three times in four years. His last citation was for going 110 mph in a 30 mph zone. What’s more, his mother had to co-sign the loan for the Hayabusa. Without her signature, he wouldn’t have the motorcycle in which he crashed.

In essence, we had an untrained rider, on one of the fastest production motorcycles in the world, whose driving history showed irresponsible and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. Add all that together and you have a crash looking for a place to happen.

By the way, the crash happened the day after he purchased the bike. Without his mother’s help he could not have purchased the motorcycle in the first place. I’m sure she knows that and she has to live with that knowledge the rest of her life.

The point is, if your kids are bugging you to let them get a motorcycle think long and hard about it. Is he or she irresponsible? Does he or she have a poor driving record? If the answer is yes, tell them they’ll have to wait till they leave the roost.

Copyright 2015 Jerry “Motorman” Palladino

Born To Ride Motorcycle Magazine - Motorcycle TV, Radio, Events, News and Motorcycle Blog