- Post author:Chris
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It’s no secret that motorcyclists are the most at-risk individuals on the road. Compared to other drivers in cars, trucks, and other vehicles, motorcyclists are far less protected, are more difficult to see, and can have different road laws that can make them unpredictable.
Unfortunately, the result is countless motorcycle accidents that occur each year.
So how do most motorcycle crashes happen? Despite many online opinions, there is not a single factor that causes motorcycle crashes. The 5 top causes are weather and road conditions, speed of the driver, alcohol or drug impairment, reckless motorcycle driving behavior and failure to be seen by other drivers on the road.
Although motorcyclists typically only make up 3% of registered vehicles in the United States, they contribute to 14% of vehicle-related deaths according to the NSC!
Let’s discuss these top five causes of motorcycle accidents on the road, their resulting injuries, and how to prevent them.
Driving Under The Influence
Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or unfortunately encountering an impaired driver on the road remains one of the primary causes of all motorcycle accidents, with at least 127 million impaired drivers on the road in 2020 according to the CDC.
Whether the motorcyclist is intoxicated or another driver is driving under the influence proves to be one of the deadliest causes of all forms of motorcycle accidents.
As described by the NHTSA, in 2018, 39% of fatal single-vehicle motorcycle accidents saw the motorcyclist under the influence, and that doesn’t even involve any other drivers.
When you include other drivers, both inebriated and not, this number increases substantially, making driving under the influence one of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes.
When visibility is low, the roads are slick and there is often debris on the streets due to inclement weather. The likelihood of a motorcycle crash obviously increases. Unfortunately, in harsh weather conditions such as this, motorcyclists once again find themselves at the top of the list of the motorists most in danger on the road.
This is primarily because without having the protection that the interior of a vehicle provides, motorcyclists are subjected to the elements. With nothing but a helmet and clothing to protect them from wind, rain, and other elements, they are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Not only does this decrease a rider’s visibility, but it can also make it difficult for them to control their motorcycle effectively because they may be wet, cold, uncomfortable, or several other reasons. In addition, most motorcycles only have two tires, which makes it much more difficult to control during already threatening weather conditions.
As is the case with all vehicles, speeding is a major cause of accidents across the world. However, speeding has proven to be particularly dangerous for motorcyclists.
Compared to speeding-related accidents and fatalities from cars, trucks, and other automobiles, more motorcycle deaths were caused by speeding than by any others.
This is primarily the case because motorcycles are far less stable on two wheels, which can prove to be disastrous at high speeds.
In addition, with limited protection, motorcyclists that crash going above the speed limit are likely to sustain serious injuries, or worse. It also doesn’t help that most motorcycles have an impressive acceleration rate when compared to other vehicles, making sudden stops safely nearly impossible.
Although not legal in all states, the American Motorcyclist Association describes lane splitting as “a motorcycle’s narrow width which can allow it to pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on roadways where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap.
This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind.” Since being in stop-and-go or congested traffic has proven to be increasingly dangerous for motorcyclists, lane splitting is a solution that has proven to be beneficial to motorcyclists, however, it does not come without hazards.
Driving a motorcycle in between lines of stopped or slow-moving cars puts them at the mercy of other drivers.
If a motorcyclist is lane-splitting and a car suddenly attempts to merge in front of them and doesn’t see the motorcyclist, this can result in a type of accident that happens all too often.
Hopefully, the motorcyclist is driving slowly enough to either stop or maneuver around the merging vehicle, although this is not always the case.
Failure to be seen by other drivers
Motorcycles are convenient to drive because they are small, can weave through traffic, and are quick. Yet, this is also what makes them so dangerous. Ironically, all these benefits of a motorcycle also make them less visible to other drivers and is what causes many motorcycle accidents.
Almost all vehicles have blind spots of some kind whether they be small cars or large trucks. At times, that blind spot can completely block a motorcyclist from view, leading a driver to believe that no one is there, causing an accident. In addition to blind spots, most vehicle drivers also don’t always have the safety of motorcyclists at the forefront of their minds.
This is because motorcyclists are the minority on the road. Vehicle drivers are constantly encountering other vehicles and watching for them when changing lanes, merging onto highways, etc.
They encounter motorcycles much less frequently and often do not take the extra time to check their blind spots for them, which often results in an untimely motorcycle accident.
Unfortunately, not all motorcycle accidents are preventable, and people do get hurt in a variety of ways.
Motorcycle crashes and their resulting injuries are unique compared to other vehicle accidents.
Motorcycle accident attorneys Ciccarelli Law Offices stated that the most common injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents are:
- TBI (traumatic brain injury): Even if the rider is wearing a helmet, brain injuries are one of the most common injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. Because the rider does not have the safety of a seatbelt, they can easily fly over their handlebars and into other vehicles obstacles or the road, resulting in traumatic brain injuries.
- Spinal cord injuries: Often associated with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are another common motorcycle accident injury. With nothing but their own body to brace the impact, it is not unusual for the victim of a crash to suffer a head and spinal cord injury at the same time.
- Road rash: Because motorcyclists only have their clothing and helmet to protect them from the pavement, road rash is a very common injury in motorcycle accidents. It can range from mild to severe and occurs when a motorcyclist’s body skids across the pavement at high speeds.
Thankfully, most motorcycle accidents are preventable, as long as motorcyclists and drivers take extra precautions on the roads.
Some of the things motorcyclists can do to prevent an accident are:
- Wear bright clothing to make yourself seen
- Avoid riding your motorcycle in inclement weather
- Never speed
- Never drink and drive
- Don’t share lanes with cars
- Regularly check your motorcycle for maintenance issues, especially tires
If you are an automobile driver you can:
- Double-check mirrors before merging
- Avoid merging in slow traffic
- Avoid opening your doors when sitting in slow or stopped traffic
- Follow the rules of the road
- Always assume a motorcyclist is near
Content manager and writer for MotorcycleAccident.org
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Be especially alert at intersections because approximately 70 percent of motorcycle-vehicle collisions occur there! Watch for vehicles that may unexpectedly turn in front of you or pull out from a side street or driveway.What is the most common cause of motorcycle crashes at intersections? ›
Failure to Yield
About 35 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents occur at intersections.
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The effects of a crash involving a motorcycle can often be devastating. While 20 percent of passenger vehicle crashes result in injury or death, an astounding 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death.
California Intersection Accident Statistics
According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, about 50% of all motor vehicle accidents involving injuries and fatalities occur at or near intersections.
Fast Facts of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are 28 times more likely to result in fatalities based on vehicle miles traveled. Riders are also four times more likely to get injured. Although motorcycles only make up 3% of the registered vehicles in the U.S., they contribute 14% of all traffic fatalities.
The main cause for single-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle is the biker's failure to reduce their speed when navigating a curve. And of all crashes in which motorcycle riders are significantly injured or killed, 50% are crashes that involve only the motorcycle and no other vehicle.Which type of collision is a major cause of motorcycle fatalities? ›
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- Distracted Driving. Distracted driving is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. ...
- Speeding. ...
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs. ...
- Aggressive Driving. ...
- Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel. ...
- Adverse Weather Conditions.
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The Average Age for Motorcycle Fatalities Is Over 40
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However, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that the odds of surviving a motorcycle accident nationwide range from 90-95 percent.
What is the main cause of the crash over 70% of the time when a motorcyclist is involved in an accident? ›
Motorcycle Accident Stats
In nearly 70 percent of motorcycle accidents that include another vehicle, the driver of the larger vehicle violated the motorcyclist's right of way, with an accident resulting.
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The No-Zone represents danger areas around trunks where crashes are more likely to occur. Passing. When motorcycles cut in too soon after passing, then abruptly slow down, truck drivers are forced to compensate with little time or room to spare.What should motorcyclists never assume? ›
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As the most common cause of fatal collisions, speeding has garnered attention from federal and state agencies and organizations that study different aspects of speeding. In recent years, the NHTSA has identified speeding patterns among drivers.
- Vehicle collision: The two or more vehicles collide while collision.
- Human collision: The humans collide with the inner part of the vehicle in a car crash.
- Internal collision: The internal things of the car collide with each other in a car crash.
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Traveling above the posted speed limit or too fast for roadway conditions is a primary cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities in California. In 2020, speeding contributed to 1,228 car accident deaths.What are majority of crashes caused by? ›
In fact, aggressive driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents. Reckless driving, road rage, and tailgating are some of the most common aggressive driving behaviors.At what speed do most motorcycle deaths occur? ›
The Speed at Which Most Motorcycles Crash
The average speed of impact for motorcycle accidents is 21.5 mph. Shockingly, only one out of every 1,000 motorcycle accidents occur at speeds of around 85 mph.
The Average Age for Motorcycle Fatalities Is Over 40
The most common age to die in a motorcycle accident is 42. The reason for this could be the decreased vision, hearing, and body strength that come with older age.