First, the good news - it's summer. Concerts in the park, boating on Bellingham Bay, biking along Whatcom County's many back country roads, motorcycle rides along Chuckanut Drive and road trips for the whole family. But the bad news is this brings a higher chance of vehicle collisions and other types of accidents. Summer is typically a more dangerous time to be on the roads because teenagers are out of school. In fact, the fatality rate for teen drivers aged 16-19 is four times higher than drivers aged 25-69. Adding into the mix more motorcycles on the roads, swimming and boating accidents, and playground accidents, and there are certain to be some souls who will spend their summer in a hospital bed.
Here's a list of common summertime accidents:
Human error is yet again the culprit in most motorcycle accidents. Around half of them include preventable factors such as drinking and driving, drowsy driving, and just plain reckless driving, including speeding. Lots of drivers make the terrible and sometimes deadly decision to make any or all of those mistakes, but when a motorcycle is involved, the rider is 35 times more likely than motor vehicle occuprants to be seriously injured or killed.
A whopping 56% of motorcyclists who are fatally wounded lose their lives in head-on crashes with a car or truck. Motor vehicles and motorcycles crashing head-on make up 78% of motorcycle accidents. Only 5% are rear-end collisions.
Intersections are especially dangerous for motorcyclists. 42% of motorcycle accidents involve a car turning left. Motorcyclists may be T-boned by the car as they pass straight through the intersection, or when a motorcycle is attempting to pass or overtake a car.
In Washington State, damages are awarded based on contributory fault law. This means that if you're in an accident with a motorcycle, you may only be awarded damages proportionate to the percentage of fault contributed by the defendant and nothing for the amount of fault that you contributed. Each party is responsible for their fault in the collision.
Bellingham is blessed with many types of bodies of water, and these are popular ways to cool off in the summer. Whatcom Falls is a popular diving spot, but as you probably have seen, there have already been too many memorials to children who have died there. The rocks are slippery, and the water runs fast. Please be extremely careful around water. It is critical to supervise children when they are playing near or in water at all times, and make sure they do not get themselves into risky situations. Make sure that young children wear life vests when until they are strong swimmers, and it's a good idea to wear a life vest while riding in a boat. The risk of head injury increases around boats, and no one can swim while they are unconscious. Take a peek at this list of tips on swimming safety and boating safety before you venture out to the water.
Private swimming pools must have a locked fence all the way around the pool. The homeowner risks a serious lawsuit if a child were to venture into a swimming pool and drown.
Most people who invest in a boat are going to learn how to operate it before they head out on open water. That's just common sense, you'd think. However, it is also common sense to refrain from operating a boat while drunk, or be distracted or speed. However, these behaviors are nearly always factors in boating accidents. To be on the safe side, make sure all adults and children wear a life jacket while on board, and don't go out on the water during inclement weather.
Playgrounds are irresistible but do have risks. Summer brings the kiddos out to the playgrounds, so make sure you keep a close eye on them, and gently distract them from playing games or using equipment that is above their skill level, size, or age. Here's a post about common playground accidents to help you think critically about safety so you don't have to ruin your fun.