No matter the cause of motorcycle accidents, the result is usually the same. Motorcycle accidents can be disastrous for bikers and their families. Vehicle crashes result in far more than just a loss of property. Even relatively minor motorcycle accidents can result in significant and even life-changing injuries. It’s important for bikers to be aware of the causes of motorcycle accidents so that they can take precautions to avoid these hazards. Although not every motorcycle crash can be prevented, by following proper safety standards, bikers can lower their risk of injury or death.
Unlike drivers of cars or trucks, motorcycle riders are not protected by a steel cage. When a crash occurs, they are often thrown off their bikes, at a high rate of speed. Statistics show that there are 35 times more deaths from motorcycle crashes than from car crashes. Although helmets and proper safety gear offer some protection, when traveling at high rates of speeds, collisions can be fatal.
Motorcycle Accident Facts and Causes
Cars Striking Head-On
Approximately 56 percent of motorcycle accidents occur when motorcycles are struck by other vehicles. Most often, about 78 percent of the time, the motorcycle is struck from the front by another vehicle. These head-on collisions are often disastrous and fatalities are not uncommon. Motorcycles are struck from the rear in only about five percent of all collisions. Even though these crashes are usually not as disastrous, major injuries can still occur.
Cars Turning Left
One common cause of motorcycle accidents is cause turning left. Cars turning left present the most dangerous situation for bikers. Forty-two percent of all motorcycle collisions occur as the vehicular driver is making a left-hand turn. The turning car can strike as the motorcycle proceed straight or tries to pass or overtake the car. These collisions often occur between two cars, as well, but are even more likely with motorcycles as they can be easily missed on the driver’s visual horizon.
In most cases, the driver is at fault, but if the biker is trying to overtake the car while making a turn or is not in a proper lane, the biker can be deemed to be at partial fault. Bikers should be extra vigilant when traveling through intersections and especially when making left-hand turns. Use caution when approaching and riding through an intersection, and try to avoid the blind spots of cars on the road.
Lane splitting is a much-debated topic in the world of motorcycles. In most areas, it is still not legal, though some states and jurisdictions have begun to allow lane splitting. Although some studies have shown that lane splitting reduces the risk of motorcycle crashes in intersections, individuals who do not use caution and use lane splitting as a way to speed through traffic are probably more at risk.
The extra risk occurs because motorcycles are in close proximity to vehicles and often do not have a route to “escape” should a car move into their path of travel. Also, most drivers do not expect to have a biker approach within their own lane, so they may miss them altogether. When lane splitting crashes occur, authorities determine fault by considering the laws of the area.
If lane splitting is not allowed, the biker is usually deemed to be at fault. When it is allowed by law, fault is decided on a case by case basis. Lane splitting can be a safe practice when bikers exercise extra care and caution. Remember that you are reducing your ability to maneuver out of the way of a potential crash, so ride with extra care.
Speeding and Alcohol/Drug Use
Nearly half of all motorcycle crashes involve speeding or alcohol or drug use. In fact, driving under the influence is one of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes. Riding a motorcycle requires paying attention. Motorcycles notoriously present extra risk on the road, and bikers who speed or use chemicals while riding put themselves and others at unnecessary risk. Needless to say, no motorcyclist or driver should ever operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
When bikers exceed the speed limit, they do not have time to react to potential hazards. When crashes involve a high rate of speed or the use of alcohol or drugs on the part of the biker, they are usually found to be at fault. This may reduce the biker’s ability to recover funds in a crash. In cases where the biker is cited for speeding or alcohol use, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorneys like the ones at Kass & Moses to determine if you can still receive damages.
Crashes with Fixed Objects
About 25 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents occur when bikers run into stationary objects. Crashing into a parked car, pole, or tree can result in a major impact. The impact usually throws the biker to the ground, often striking their head. Even with a helmet this often results in a concussion and brain injury. And sadly, many of these crashes end with fatalities.
The best way to avoid one of these crashes is to travel at a safe rate of speed. Remember that a safe rate of speed may not necessarily be the speed limit. If it is raining or during dawn or dusk hours when the sun may impede with your vision, a lower rate of speed may be necessary. Only ride at a speed that feels comfortable to you.
Potential road hazards like dead animals, debris in the roadway, or potholes do not present much of a problem to car or truck drivers. Poor road conditions, however, can be very dangerous, however, for bikers. When bikers strike something in the roadway, they can skid, fall off the bike, or be pushed into traffic. When riding, look far ahead down the road to try to observe any potential poor road conditions. Whenever possible, steer away from these road hazards. Another potential hazard is inclement weather. Remember that rainy and windy conditions make roadways more dangerous for everyone and can result in serious motorcycle accidents.
Many crashes occur when motorcyclists or motorists change lanes, especially on highways when such changes are made at high speeds. Motorists can easily overlook a motorcyclist in their blind spot. Many drivers make lane changes with only a cursory check of the mirror. This can lead to an accident when the vehicle moves into the lane directly in the path of the motorcyclist. Although less common, serious accidents can happen when motorcyclists merge in and out of traffic quickly.
How Likely are Motorcycle Accidents?
The likelihood of being injured in a motorcycle accident is higher than being injured in an automobile crash. Motorcyclists are fully exposed in a collision, whereas car riders are seated in a steel cage that largely protects them from the brunt of impact. Motorcyclists are far more prone to severe injuries and even fatalities when accidents occur.
No matter the causes of motorcycle accidents, motorcycle crashes can be devastating for bikers and their families. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle crash, it is critical that you have representation. This is especially true as medical bills add up quickly, and time away from work can impact your income significantly. The insurance company is looking out for their own bottom line. They will urge you to accept an amount that may be far less than you deserve. Call 1-800-MOTORCYCLE for a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle crash attorney at the personal injury law firm of Kass & Moses immediately if you have been involved in a crash.
Although the cause of motorcycle accidents varies significantly, we believe in pursuing personal injury cases aggressively. When you contact an attorney at our law office for legal advice, you can rest assured that you are speaking with an experienced professional who will put your case first. Call today for a free consultation with our attorneys.