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Kansas motorcycle accident critically injures Carbondale rider

Motorcycles aren't invisible, but many Kansas drivers seem to treat them that way. Unlike people on foot and bicycles, which frequently are off the road or off to the side, motorcycles are smack dab in the middle of traffic. Other than gear, motorcyclists are unprotected and often suffer catastrophic injuries when drivers choose to disregard them.

A motorcycle and a pickup truck were traveling in opposite directions near an entrance at the Topeka Regional Airport. The southbound truck driver decided to make a left turn in front of the oncoming, northbound bike. The two vehicles collided while the pickup driver was executing the turn; the motorcyclist was ejected, while the bike crumpled beneath the moving truck.

The 32-year-old rider hit the road face down and slid across and off the pavement into the grass. Although the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet, the Carbondale man suffered a severe head injury and a fractured leg. He was transported to a local medical facility and later transferred to a Kansas City hospital; the truck driver was unhurt.

A driver turning across traffic always takes the risk of failing to estimate how fast an oncoming vehicle is traveling. It's also easy to miscalculate distance. Sometimes turning drivers simply assume other motorists will slow down to accommodate them.

A motorcyclist dealing with a sudden obstacle, like a car turning, often hits the brakes. Most motorcycles have separate braking systems, with a hand lever for the front brake and a foot pedal for the back brakes. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, overbraking can cause either the front or rear brakes to lock up and the rider to lose control.

Riding skills and defensive driving help Kansas bikers avoid accidents. However, motorcyclists can't predict when they'll encounter a negligent driver. At-fault drivers may be named in motorcycle injury and wrongful death actions, so victims and survivors can recover compensation for losses.

Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal, "Motorcyclist severely injured near Topeka Regional Airport" Phil Anderson, Jun. 20, 2014

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