Another motorcyclist has been killed in Ogden Utah.
About 7:30 last night a Jeep driven by a 48-year-old woman turned left off of Harrison Boulevard onto 42nd Street intending to head westbound. At about the same time a motorcycle driven by a 27-year-old man turned right at the same intersection. No other details of the crash are available and the Ogden Police and Utah Highway Patrol continue to investigate. No charges have been made against either party pending the outcome of the investigation.
We looked at the news reports concerning this crash. KSL reported that “The motorcyclist, a 30-year-old man, died at the scene. The man was not wearing a helmet at the time, [officer] Cragun said.” The Deseret News reported exactly the same phrase. Ogden's Standard Examiner reported, “It did not appear the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet, according to a press release.” KUTV channel 2 reported, “The man was thrown from his bike and died from his injuries and was not wearing a helmet.”
All of these news outlets are saying that the motorcyclist was following the law because he was not wearing a helmet. The law in Utah requires a motorcycle rider less than 18 years of age to wear a helmet. Any motorcycle rider 18 years of age and older is not required to wear a helmet. In this case the motorcycle driver was reported to be 27 years old.
The articles also invariably state that ‘the motorcycle crashed into the Jeep' followed by ‘the motorcycle driver died' followed by ‘he was not wearing a helmet.' This ordering of these three phrases and the language used, at least to me, places the blame for the crash on the motorcycle driver when we do not yet know the cause of the crash in this case.
“So what?” you might ask. There is a distinct bias against motorcycle riders with the public assuming all motorcycle riders are reckless and responsible for any crash involving a motorcycle. The public, reinforced by reporting like that above, infer and assume that the motorcycle rider is somehow responsible for his own death because he was reckless and because he was not wearing a helmet. In this case there is absolutely no evidence that the motorcycle driver was reckless or whether a helmet would have saved his life. Reporting, like that above, reinforces this public bias against motorcycle riders.
As an attorney representing motorcycle riders in Utah I can tell you that the motorcycle driver is sometimes at fault for a given crash. However, in the vast number of cases the cause of the crash lies with the other vehicle driver. In fact, according the UDOT the leading causes of motorcycle crashes is by left-turning vehicles turning directly in front of a motorcycle – akin to the facts in this recent Ogden crash.
The way the press reports the news, inferring that the motorcycle driver is responsible, despite ongoing investigation, contributes to and reinforces the bias against motorcyclists in Utah. This is a problem because juries in trial come into trial with a bias against motorcyclists. Insurance companies representing the alleged offending vehicle driver take advantage of this bias and infer at trial that the motorcycle driver was speeding or otherwise reckless without any evidence and the jury is predisposed to believe them. The problem is there is no evidence that the motorcycle driver was, in fact, reckless. Trial is supposed to be a search for the truth and not a stark exercise of appealing to biases.
I have been a motorcycle rider for over 30 years and have also been a registered nurse. My law practice focuses on representing injured and killed motorcycle riders and their families. We can help you with medical bills, getting your bike fixed and getting you the money you deserve from the person that caused the crash. Utah Bike Law and its attorneys are licensed to practice law only in the State of Utah and maintain offices in Salt Lake City, Utah. No attorney client relationship is established by simply visiting this website.