What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycles offer riders an unparalleled experience of freedom. To feel the wind in your hair while the open road passes beneath you is a unique and thrilling experience that is sought by most motorcyclists.
Of course, like other recreational vehicles, there are inherent risks associated with motorcycles. Motorcycles are more prone to accidents than other modes of transportation, like cars. Motorcyclists are not only more likely to be involved in an accident, but motorcycle accidents are also more likely to result in serious injury. In fact, despite making up just 3 percent of all vehicles on the road, motorcycles accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in one recent year.
Riders and bike manufacturers are continuously developing new ways to make riding a motorcycle safer. Localities contribute to motorcycle safety by encouraging riders to wear helmets and imposing regulations to protect riders on the roadways. Despite the progress, motorcyclists remain in more danger than passenger vehicle occupants.
From a rider’s perspective, understanding why motorcycle accidents happen is critical to avoiding them. An awareness of the common causes of accidents can better equip riders to avoid situations in which motorcycle accidents are most likely to occur.
To help riders stay safe next time they hit the road, here are some top causes of motorcycle accidents:
Motorcycles are more susceptible to road hazards because of their design. A two-wheel base means it’s easier to lose balance if you hit an object in the road, or road conditions change suddenly.
Additionally, it may be difficult to notice road hazards while riding. They may be inconspicuous or subtle, such as a piece of wood or a shallow pothole. Too frequently they go unnoticed until they’re unavoidable.
Road hazards can also cause accidents in other ways. Even if the biker sees the hazard ahead of time, they may adjust too quickly which can cause the bike to tip over.
Cars Making Left-hand Turns
This is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents generally, but it causes a disproportionate number of motorcycle crashes. The fact that the car is cutting across lanes, and that the motorcycle frequently ends up in the driver’s blind spot, are two reasons left-hand turns are so dangerous.
Left-hand turns cause motorcycle accidents in a couple of different ways. If the motorcycle attempts to speed past the car from behind it, it may collide with the side of the car. If the motorcycle is coming towards the car in the opposite lane, it may strike the car in the intersection.
Turning Too Sharply
Riding a motorcycle engenders a certain self-confidence; the roar of the engine, the beautiful scenery—you may feel on top of the world. In fact, a single, small mistake can have serious consequences. A prime example is misreading a turn.
If a driver enters a turn too quickly or at too great an angle, he could lose control of the bike and end up on the pavement. Calibrating the appropriate angle and speed for a turn is something that comes with experience. Novice riders may overestimate the bike’s ability to stay balanced at a certain angle or speed.
Sudden Lane Changes
Because motorcycles are smaller than most vehicles on the road, they often go unnoticed. Ironically, they’re most likely to go unnoticed not when they’re physically far from the car, but when they’re only a few feet away in the car’s “blind spot.”
Blind spot accidents often occur when the driver attempts to change lanes without seeing the motorcycle next to him. This often results in a full-on collision throwing the biker off the motorcycle. These accidents are so dangerous because they happen so quickly, leaving the biker almost no time to react.
Drugs and Alcohol
Unfortunately, this bears mentioning. Around 28 percent of riders who died in motorcycle deaths were impaired. Operating a two-wheeled bike at more than 40 miles per hour already requires significant skill and execution, trying to do it while impaired is a blatant disregard for the well-being of yourself and those around you.
How Riders Can Avoid Crashes
There’s no such thing as a crash-proof motorcycle, but you can take these steps to mitigate the chances of an accident.
- First and foremost, make sure the bike itself is in working condition before riding. Far too many crashes are the result of a mechanical failure that would’ve been spotted during a routine maintenance check. Every few months take your bike to the shop to ensure all gears, pistons, and nozzles are in working order.
- Second, drive defensively while on the road. It may be tempting to speed by the painfully slow driver ahead of you, or to try to beat that yellow light, but neither are worth putting your physical well-being at risk. Always drive under the speed limit, ease into turns, and make sure to give other vehicles on the road a wide berth.
- Third, make sure road conditions are suitable for riding. Motorcycles don’t handle inclement weather and poor road conditions as well as four-wheel vehicles, it’s simply a fact. Check the weather and the state of the roads before heading out, it may save you considerable pain and suffering.
Motorcycle riding is an exhilarating activity enjoyed by many around the country. It offers a degree of freedom not afforded by other modes of transportation. Unfortunately, this popular pastime carries with it a degree of risk.
In just one year, accidents killed nearly 5,000 motorcycle riders. To make this statistic all the more tragic, drivers of cars and trucks could have avoided many of these accidents if they took proper safety measures. A far too great a share was due to mechanic failure, operating while intoxicated, or failure to observe safe riding practices. Additionally, we can point our fingers at inattentive motor vehicle drivers, who far too often fail to acknowledge motorcycles on the road.
Thankfully, if drivers educate themselves about the causes of motorcycle accidents and take steps to avoid them, cars and trucks would not make the roads so unsafe for motorcyclists. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact a skilled motorcycle crash lawyer today.