An accident in August 2017 in Detroit left one dead and one seriously injured. The accident was not a typical automobile collision however, as it involved a go-kart and a motorcycle. The drivers of the two vehicles were apparently drag racing (also known as street racing), along French Road on the Detroit's east side and according to the Detroit Free Press, were reaching speeds of up to 100 mph. Witnesses say the go-kart made a U-turn, ending up directly in the path of the motorcycle, which was what resulted in the automobile collision. The 21-year-old man driving the go-kart died and the 31-year-old man driving the motorcycle was seriously injured. Both drag racing and driving a go-kart on public streets are illegal in the State of Michigan.
Go-karts are not “street legal” vehicles. They are mostly driven on private tracks and in large backyards. In order for go-karts to be deemed street legal, they need to undergo thousands of dollars worth of modifications. These modifications include adding headlights, turn signals, a windshield, tail lights, seat belts, a parking brake, rear view mirrors, license plates, a speedometer, an odometer, and a horn. More so, a go-kart is not allowed to reach speeds over 25 mph, which would be achieved through engine modification. It would also need auto insurance. Due to the time and money required to make these modifications, most go-karts are usually not street legal.
Like go-karts, drag racing on public streets is also illegal in the State of Michigan, but is a relatively common occurrence throughout Detroit. Michigan law defines drag racing as “the operation of 2 or more vehicles from a point side by side at accelerating speeds in a competitive attempt to out-distance each other” or “for the purpose of setting a speed record.” It appears as though the motorcycle crash in Detroit was caused by the drivers of the go-kart and motorcycle racing to a finishing point.
It's for a good reason that drag racing is not legal, as it can be unsafe. There are many safety issues that arise from drag racing. Not only are the participating drivers at risk or being involved in a motor vehicle accident because there are no official rules and regulations, or any sort of safety provisions, but pedestrians are also at risk since there are no bleachers, guard rails, or any sort of crowd protection from powerful speeding vehicles. An additional cause of concern is that widespread use of drugs and alcohol that are typically known to be found at illegal drag racing events.
Unlike go-karts and drag racing however, operating a motorcycle is legal in the state of Michigan, but it still comes with risks. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in 2015 there were 5,000 people killed in motorcycle accidents - a 10% increase from 2014. Also in 2015, motorcyclist deaths increased in 31 states. Currently, only 19 states plus the District of Columbia require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Michigan is not one of them. The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog recently discussed how the state's motorcycle helmet law was repealed in 2012. Motorcyclists groups supported the repeal of the law, calling it an individual rights issue, even though wearing a helmet has been repeatedly shown to keep motorcyclists safer. The GHSA is one of the groups who supports mandatory helmet laws, and has provided the following safety tips for motorcyclists.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
- Always wear a DOT-compliant helmet, even when not required by state law.
- Wear bright-colored clothing to make it easier to be seen by other drivers.
- Never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Obey posted speed limits.
- When purchasing a new motorcycle, opt for a model with antilock brakes. These have been shown to decrease fatal motorcycle crashes by preventing a motorcycle's wheels from locking during braking, and assisting with maintaining the stability of the motorcycle.
While following these tips does not guarantee motorcycle accidents won’t happen, they may help decrease the likelihood of being involved in a motorcycle crash. Drag racing , unless it's on Roadkill Nights, and operating a go-kart on a public street, unless it's been modified and certified to be legal, however are big no-nos. These activities can be extremely dangerous and come with the risk of being involved in automobile crashes. Not only are the drivers of the vehicles put at risk, but so are other drivers, and pedestrian bystanders as well.
Drag racing is usually illegal and can have deadly consequences. If you have been the victim of a motor vehicle accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free personal injury or motor vehicle accident consultation. Let our attorneys handle your legal situation while you focus on recovering.