On June 8, 2019, a motorcyclist was killed on Illinois County Highway Route 6 when riding with her husband and a group of other riders. Cheryl Zeglen and her husband Tom both lost control of their bikes when they hit a patch of grass clippings that had been left in the road. The Illinois woman was thrown from her bike and died in the hospital two days later. Her friends and family want people to know that grass clippings kill motorcyclists.
This is not the first time grass clippings have caused injury and death to motorcyclists on the road. In April, Aaron Lee was killed in a motorcycle crash in Kentucky. Witnesses say that grass clippings had been on the road where that accident occurred also.
These were not novice riders; however, many seasoned riders know how easy it is to lose control when encountering grass clippings in the road Many riders know people who have been injured or killed because of it.
How Do Grass Clippings Kill Motorcyclists?
This is because they are extremely slippery, even when they’re dry. Grass is 85 percent water. A sheet of clippings spread across the road is like a sheet of ice. If the clippings are wet, such as after a light rain, the danger is even worse.
If a motorcycle rider comes upon them suddenly, such as just after a curve, and doesn’t have time to slow down, the clippings can cause a dangerous loss of traction.
Illegal in Many Areas
In many states and jurisdictions, it is illegal to deposit your grass clippings in the street.
For one thing, grass clippings and other lawn debris can clog storm drains and cause water pollution.
In addition, if you leave a large amount of grass clippings in the street, and a motorcyclist is injured or killed, you could be cited, as was Canton, Illinois man accused of causing the accident that killed Cheryl Zeglen. You could also be sued, as was this person, who is accused of causing a similar accident in 2013.
This is entirely fair. Grass clippings are not a natural phenomenon — they are caused by people mowing their lawn. And while people may not intend to create a dangerous situation, it’s still important to be aware of your impact on others. It is not difficult at all to prevent blowing grass into the street. Simply make your last row of mowing the one closest to the street, and position it so that your mower blows the clippings back onto your lawn. Problem solved.
It’s Better for Your Lawn to Leave It
Most lawn care experts, as well as the New York Times and Popular Mechanics, will tell you that leaving grass clippings on your lawn to decompose naturally is beneficial, and results in a healthier lawn.
If you don’t like grass clippings on your lawn, there are lots of alternate uses or ways to dispose of them than leaving an unsightly and dangerous sheet of clippings in the street. They can be used for compost, as mulch for garden beds, or placed in green recycling.
Whatever you do with your clippings, it is important to be aware that leaving them in the street is negligent and depending where you live, may be against the law. If you hire a gardener to tend your lawn, make sure the service doesn’t deposit the grass in the street. If your grass clippings kill motorcyclists or cause a motorcycle accident, you will be the one held responsible.
If You’ve Been Injured Due to Grass Clippings
If you have been hurt, or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by grass clippings in the street, contact TorkLaw. You may be entitled to sue the person whose negligence caused your accident.