No matter what you might think about motorcycles, they are on the roads again in great numbers. Understanding the top causes of motorcycle wrecks can help drivers of other vehicles become more alert and help to prevent motorcycle crashes.
When a motorcycle is involved in an accident, the outcome is often tragic. Motorcyclists do not have the protection of metal surrounding them. There is nothing to prevent them from being thrown from a bike. When they hit the ground, they hit hard, and it hurts. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and are more difficult to see.
It’s spring. Motorcycle owners who put their bikes away for the winter are tuning engines and heading for the open road. Other drivers do well to look and listen a little bit longer to prevent a wreck involving a motorcycle.
Here are the top seven causes of motorcycle wrecks:
- Cars making left-hand turns. This is the single most dangerous driving situation for someone driving a motorcycle. These collisions account for about 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car. These wrecks occur because the turning car collides with the motorcycle when it is doing one of three things: (1) driving straight through an intersection, (2) passing the car, or (3) trying to pass the car. The most dangerous situation, which takes drivers of cars and trucks by surprise, is when a motorcyclist tries to pass a car in the same lane.
- Head-on collisions. Only about 5 percent of crashes involving a motorcycle occur when another vehicle hits the bike from behind. Head-on motorcycle wrecks are often fatal for the motorcyclist. Someone drifts into an oncoming lane, someone tries to pass the vehicle in front of them, someone swerves to avoid a wreck or an animal, or someone turns the wrong way on a one-way street and a wreck results.
- Speeding or alcohol use by a motorcyclist. Roughly half of single motorcycle accidents are caused by alcohol use or speeding. These are also factors in many wrecks involving a motorcycle and another vehicle.
- Lane-splitting. When a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of stopped or sloe-moving cars and trucks, it is called lane-splitting. This is a very common cause of motorcycle wrecks and is illegal in some states. This is a very dangerous practice. Drivers of other vehicles do not expect a motorcycle to be between two lanes of traffic, and often they do not look for it. This practice also puts the motorcycle very close to other vehicles and leaves very little space to steer the motorcycle if a car or truck does not see it.
- Collisions with fixed objects. About 25 percent of biker fatalities result from colliding with a fixed object. For drivers and passengers in cars, only about 18 percent of collisions with fixed objects result in fatalities. These are the kind of wrecks that cause the motorcyclist to be thrown far from the bike and to land very hard.
- Road hazards. When a motorcycle encounters road hazards, the same factors (no protection from the body of a car or truck, nothing to stop them from being thrown from the bike, the smaller size of the motorcycle) are at play. In addition, the motorcycle (with only two wheels) lacks the stability of a four-wheel vehicle. Road hazards include slick pavement, dead animals, potholes, uneven pavement, or other unexpected objects.
- Riding high-performance motorcycles. These motorcycles are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents. There are two types of high-performance motorcycles.
- Super sport motorcycles – This type of motorcycle is built on a racing platform that is modified for highway use. It is lighter than other bikes and it has a more powerful engine (typically capable of reaching 160 mph). Most riders of super sport motorcycles are under age 30 (they are less experienced and often less cautious). The fatality rate on these motorcycles is four times the rate of riders of conventional motorcycles.
- Sport motorcycles – This type of bike is similar to the super sport type, but have a lower power to weight ratio. Riders of sport motorcycles are typically under age 34. The fatality rate of riders of sport motorcycles is twice that of riders of conventional motorcycles.
We hope that knowledge of the top 7 causes of motorcycle wrecks will sharpen the awareness of motorcyclists and drivers of cars and trucks. Awareness and alertness can help to prevent potentially fatal motorcycle wrecks.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a motorcycle accident due to the wrongdoing or negligence of another, the team of Altizer Law can help you understand your rights and obtain justice and an appropriate settlement under Virginia law.