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. For those motorcycle riders who suffer severe injuries, life may never be the same again.
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.
About 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injuries or fatalities. This means that if you are involved in a motorcycle accident, chances are you will not walk away without getting hurt. Sometimes these injuries are obvious, like broken bones or spinal column injuries. Others may not be as obvious, like mild concussions. Even though these injuries may appear minor, they can greatly increase your risk of neurological problems in the future. Put simply, no motorcycle accident injuries should be taken lightly. The best way to avoid further injury is to seek out appropriate medical care immediately after your crash.
If you or a family member have been involved in a motorcycle crash, you deserve quality representation from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. The Law Firm of Kass & Moses has represented injured motorcycle riders for 28 years. The firm focuses on the needs of injured bikers and embrace the motorcycle lifestyle. In fact, the attorneys are also licensed motorcycle riders. They understand how devastating injuries from a motorcycle crash can be, and they work hard to represent the needs of hurt motorcyclists.
Motorcycle Accident Facts and Causes
In 2019, there were 5,014 motorcycle accident fatalities in the United States. In a motorcycle crash, bikers are nearly 30 times more likely to be killed than automobile passengers. The statistics are alarming. And now, more than ever before, drivers on the road are preoccupied and more unaware of their surroundings. It makes for a dangerous and often deadly combination.
Motorcycle accidents happen by the dozens each day. Most times, the crashes are avoidable. And since most often bikers are hurt in these accidents, their injuries also are avoidable. We believe motorcycle riders should be aware of the dangers on the roads so they can ride defensively and make efforts to avoid a collision whenever possible.
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.
Motorists often fail to recognize motorcycles on the road, even when they are in their line of sight. Numerous studies have been performed that demonstrate that even without distracted driving, motorists can overlook motorcycles. This can occur even immediately before the car strikes the motorcycle! Frankly, it is amazing there are not more accidents involving motorcycles being struck head-on, as motorists are more preoccupied than ever before.
Being noticeable does not necessarily mean wearing day-glo orange as you ride (although that CAN help!). It can mean not riding out of the line of sight of motorists, not riding in blind spots, and using a good headlight when you ride. And yes, bright colors help, too. By making yourself more visible, you decrease the chances of someone failing to see you.
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.
Again, in some cases lane splitting serves to actually decrease the chances of being involved in an accident. So you will need to apply it on a case by case basis and always, of course, follow local laws regarding lane splitting.
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.
Both speed and alcohol and drug use are involved in countless motorcycle accidents. Fortunately, both can be easily avoided. There is simply no reason to drive a car or a motorcycle at an unsafe speed. Your chance of being involved in a crash skyrockets when you exceed the speed limit greatly. And there is never an excuse for using alcohol or drugs and then driving.
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 with an elevated blood alcohol concentration by the police officer, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorneys like the ones at Kass & Moses to determine if you can still receive damages. In such cases, the motorcycle rider still may be able to receive some compensation if it is determined that the person driving the passenger vehicle was at least partly responsible.
If you were struck by someone and you believe they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, be sure to bring that to our attention. Most police officers pick up on the signs of impairment, of course, and tests are often performed at the scene of the crash. Similarly, if the other motorist was speeding or breaking any other laws, be sure you point that out. This is not about "snitching"... it is about preserving your rights.
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.
In addition, try to look several seconds down the road ahead of you. Stationary objects do not simply pop up out of nowhere. They are most always avoidable simply by recognizing them early. Look ahead of you, watch for dangerous objects, and ride cautiously.
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. Loose gravel also results in road surfaces that are less than ideal for bikers.
Road debris represents another hazard to motorcycle riders. Whether from a passing truck that lost a tire, a farm vehicle that threw off some equipment that was not properly secured, or some garbage left from a construction crew, road debris represents a real hazard when you are going 60 to 70 miles per hour on a motorcycle. Often, debris on the pavement can be avoided by catching it early and moving to a different lane. But even though you may be able to avoid it in the vast majority of cases, sometimes it is unavoidable.
Riding in dangerous road conditions can produce result in deadly motorcycle accidents. Small puddles that cause little harm to a motorist can be treacherous when on a motorcycle. Try to avoid riding your motorcycle in the rain or, if you must ride in the rain, do so after the first few minutes. During the first few minutes of a rain, the oils on the road combine with the rainwater to produce extra slippery surfaces. By waiting a few extra minutes, the rain has time to clear away some of these oils and that pavement will not be quite as slick.
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.
Severe or fatal injuries have occurred when motorists change lanes without taking the time to check their mirrors and their blind spot properly. Vehicle drivers are often in a hurry and neglect to take the extra moments necessary to be safe. This puts other motorists on the road at an increase risk of disaster.
For motorcycle safety, try to avoid riding in the blind spots of other vehicles on the road. Always assume that other drivers are not being cautious and cannot see you. Motorcycle drivers should avoid lingering in the blind spot area of passenger vehicles whenever possible.
When passing another vehicle, be sure to use your signal both before and during the transition phase. Riding defensively in this way makes your intentions known, and the flashing light can also serve to attract the attention of other motorists on the road around you.
Although not one of the most frequent causes of motorcycle accidents, grass clippings as a hazard are often overlooked. Most of us have been guilty of leaving grass clippings in the road at one time or another. Homeowners mow their lawns, usually with little care for where the cut grass goes. Usually, it is simply blown about behind the mower into the lawn. But when the lawn by the road is mowed, the grass clippings can be blown onto the pavement.
Grass clippings produce a real hazard for motorcycle riders. Most of the time, when grass clippings are blown into the road, it is impossible to avoid them. Riding over them can cause the motorcycle to lose traction and can produce a slick surface. It is possible to lose control of your motorcycle simply due to grass clippings in the road. In such cases, the person who produced the grass clippings can be held liable for your injuries.
Some states have laws prohibiting homeowners and lawn care professionals from blowing grass clippings and other lawn debris onto the road. These laws are put in place because motorcyclists and bicyclists face a genuine risk from riding over cut grass. Motorcycle riding comes with an inherent risk, simply because there is little protection when a crash occurs. That risk should not be aggravated by avoidable hazards like grass clippings.
How Likely are Motorcycle Accidents?
Nobody taking a sunny afternoon drive expects to be involved in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle drives can be relaxing, exhilarating, bonding experiences, but for thousands of lives each year are changed drastically in an instant.
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.
Interestingly, single-vehicle accidents, those accidents involving just the motorcycle and no other vehicle, occur in approximately 42 percent of cases. Many times, excess speed or alcohol or drug use are involved. Most bikers are confident in their ability to maneuver their motorcycle. Sometimes this confidence leans towards over-confidence, and that can be downright dangerous. Avoid excess speed, especially when navigating turns or busy roadways. It simply is not worth the risk involved to ride unsafely.
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.
One of the best ways to ride safely and avoid a motorcycle accident is to take a motorcycle safety course. These courses are usually inexpensive and allow you the opportunity to learn to ride your motorcycle in a variety of challenging conditions. Even if you have taken a course before, a refresher course or a more advanced course has a lot to offer. You will learn common causes of motorcycle accidents and how you can avoid them and escape serious injury.
The key takeaway from this blog is that many motorcycle crashes are avoidable. We, as motorcycle riders, owe it to ourselves and others to ride as safely and defensively as possible. Our families love us and depend on us, and injuries can take their toll on your life and your lifestyle. Even mild injuries like road rash can result in painful and disfiguring scars. It simply isn't worth the risk to be anything other than a defensive driver. Wear protective gear, be aware of others on the road around you, and keep an eye out for debris and other hazards. The few extra moments you take can save your life and the lives of others on the road around you.
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. We will provide you with a good understanding of what you can expect in terms of compensation for your injuries, as well as the legal process.
When you call, you will receive a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle crash attorney. We value the attorney client relationship and you can rest assured that we will put your needs first. We are available any time, day or night, to discuss your crash and your needs. Call 1-800-MOTORCYCLE now to learn more.