Coming upon a motorcycle crash is a heart-wrenching moment. Motorcycle accidents are not nearly as common as car accidents, but when they do happen, the outcome is often tragic. Riding motorcycles is often thought to be a high-risk activity because of the severe injuries and deaths that can result in a crash. You may ponder whether it is even possible for a motorcycle rider to stay safe on the road. What endangers motorcyclists the most may surprise you.
What Are the Challenges a Motorcyclist Faces While Trying to Stay Safe?
People often blame motorcycle riders for their dangerous riding behaviors and risky mentality. The reality is most motorcyclists are responsible and take their safety as well as the safety of those around them seriously. Like any other driver or operator on the road, reckless riders can risk their safety, but that is the exception rather than the norm. Those that ride motorcycles know the dangers they face and take as many precautionary measures as possible to protect themselves.
Unfortunately, one thing can be unpredictable and difficult to prevent when facing danger on the road: negligent motor vehicle drivers. The drivers of passenger vehicles, trucks, and other commercial vehicles often cause motorcyclists harm while on the roadways.
Motorcyclists can control their speed, follow the rules of the road, and choose their routes. Unfortunately, a motorcyclist has zero control over the actions of other drivers, and they can and often do suffer harm through no fault of their own in many accidents.
How Can a Motorcycle Be Safe on the Road?
Helmets, safety attire, reflectors, and other motorcycle safety precautions help protect motorcyclists. However, the best way for a motorcycle rider to remain safe on the road is for all others to follow traffic laws and maintain a safe distance from riders when approaching them in any direction.
Unfortunately, this does not commonly occur. On just one morning or an afternoon drive on your commute, you are likely to encounter one or multiple traffic accidents. Traffic accidents happen every day, and while cars make up most of these accidents, motorcycles can be a part of these incidents. For motorcycle riders, their risk of severe injury or death is much higher than that of vehicle occupants in the aftermath of an accident.
Are There Situations When Riding a Motorcycle Can Be Safer Than Driving a Vehicle?
Many people wonder why people choose to use motorcycles as a mode of transportation when the risk is so high and severe. There are many reasons why a person may prefer a motorcycle to a vehicle, but it may be surprising to hear that there are some instances in which a motorcycle can be a safer choice.
Most of the reputation of motorcycles and motorcycle riders revolve around risk and danger, but not all that use a motorbike do so for an adrenaline rush. For some, the choice to ride a motorcycle can be an economic one, one of convenience, or because it offers flexibility that a vehicle does not.
Quick Response Time and Agility
Motorcycles are fast, and while speed on the road is not usually a good thing, quick reaction times and response times can allow a rider to get out of harm’s way or maneuver through a dangerous situation without much lag. These machines are agile and quick. A driver can execute rapid lane changes, turns, and stops if the situation warrants it.
Motorcyclists Have a Better View Field
When a driver is behind the wheel of a car, there are limitations on their ability to see everything and everyone around them. Vehicles have barriers that can obstruct a driver’s line of sight and create blind spots, leading to accidents.
On the other hand, motorcycles are free from barriers surrounding the rider. A rider can easily see what is ahead, to the side and with the help of mirrors behind them. A rider can look quickly in any direction to help them make quick and appropriate decisions considering the current situation and other vehicles that surround them.
Motorcycle Riding Requires Focus
Driving is a mostly passive activity where individuals sit as they navigate to their destination and let the car do the bulk of the work. When drivers operate a motor vehicle, they can become easily distracted by other activities or conversations with other vehicle occupants.
On a motorcycle, it is challenging to engage in much else than the operation of the motorcycle. A rider must work hard to maintain balance, navigate to their destination, and stay alert to the hazards around them.
How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accidents do not happen anywhere near as frequently as vehicle accidents. This is not because they are less likely to become involved in an accident, but because there are far fewer motorcycles on the road at any given time of day than cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
Over 5,000 motorcycle accident victims will die in a crash across the U.S. within a year, while approximately 80,000 riders will sustain injuries due to an accident. With more than 8.5 million registered motorcycles across the country, a fraction of riders travel on motorbikes. However, motorcycle accident victims can lose their lives instantly or change them forever when an accident happens.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Collisions?
While drivers cause a large majority of motorcycle collisions, how they cause the accidents will vary from accident to accident. Negligence is to blame in nearly every traffic accident, and a driver’s actions in the moments before a crash will indicate the likely cause of an accident with a motorcyclist. Errors can happen in various circumstances, leading a driver to lose control of their vehicle or fail to take the appropriate actions to prevent a collision with a nearby motorcyclist.
While failing to see and identify a motorcycle and its rider is often a common cause of an accident, there are other reckless actions by drivers that increase the likelihood an accident will occur if there is a motorcyclist nearby.
Common causes of vehicles crashing into motorcycles include:
- Drivers under the influence—Whether it is drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication; any substance that alters the state of mind of a driver, their coordination or ability to make rational and informed decisions when behind the wheel of a car is a danger to everybody–especially motorcyclists.
- Distracted driving—Probably one of the most frequent causes of motorcycle crashes, particularly in rear-end collisions. Drivers occupied with electronic devices or engaged in other activities that take their attention from the road are more likely to strike a motorcyclist that may come up ahead at a traffic signal or intersection.
- Reckless and aggressive driving—Driving too closely, making abrupt stops, or quick and sudden lane changes are aggressive and reckless driving and dangerous actions that can lead to serious harm to a motorcyclist. An aggressive and reckless driver is more concerned with reaching their next destination than taking the time to consider those around them, including motorcyclists. This can result in deadly and often preventable accidents.
- Failure to stop at or follow traffic signs and signals—Traffic laws and signals serve the purpose of maintaining a steady flow of traffic and preventing collisions between vehicles on the road. When an interrupting force such as a driver does not follow these traffic regulations, disaster and harm can ensue. Motorcyclists rely on others to do the right thing on the road. Unpredictable behaviors by negligent drivers and breaking traffic laws can make it difficult for them to stay out of harm’s way.
- Driving at excessive speeds—Speeding by vehicle drivers on the road is a serious danger to motorcyclists. When a driver exceeds the speed limit, it is more challenging to identify a motorcyclist crossing an intersection up ahead or at a stop. Speed interferes with a driver’s perception of the road and those on it and increases the time it will take for a vehicle to stop.
- Parked vehicles on the side of the road—An often overlooked but potentially fatal danger to motorcyclists are areas where vehicles can park on the side of the road. Drivers and other vehicle occupants who negligently open their car doors onto the right of way of an oncoming motorcyclist can cause a rider to crash into the door, lose control of their bike, or get thrown off their bikes and onto the pavement. The duties of care of those in a motor vehicle do not end when the vehicle is parked. Occupants must ensure they are aware and take the time to watch out for any riders that may be approaching as they open their doors into the streets.
What Are the Most Likely Injuries After a Motorcycle Crash Due to Negligence?
Motorcycle injuries are some of the most severe injuries an individual can sustain in a traffic accident. There is a reason that many motorcyclists are at risk of death when an accident happens. The force behind a motor vehicle colliding into a motorcycle and its rider can cause horrific injuries as the rider must survive the initial impact of the car into the bike and the force of getting slammed into the pavement or nearby objects if they are thrown off of their motorbike.
Studies show that motorcycle injuries are some of the most severe injuries on the road and the most expensive in terms of medical care and economic losses that a victim will endure in the aftermath.
Injuries to victims of motorcycle accidents can include:
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries
- Back, neck, or spinal cord injuries
- Road rash
- Fire-related burns
- Loss of a limb or amputation
- Crush injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal damage to organs and/or internal bleeding
How Can the Public Improve the Safety of Motorcyclists on the Road?
Ultimately, a motorcyclist can only take so many actions to keep themselves safe on the roadway. All the safety gear in the world cannot prevent a collision with a vehicle driven by a negligent driver.
To increase the safety of motorcyclists, one must look at the greater picture of the threats on the roadways. The biggest threat to motorcyclists is, in fact, drivers, and the most effective way to combat this threat is to increase awareness of motorcycles on the road and how to best navigate the roads in a safe and considerate manner that accounts for all drivers and riders.
Drivers know that motorcycles exist, but many drivers do not consider that a motorcyclist may be near them because of their smaller numbers and presence on the road. Campaigns to encourage drivers to be more aware of motorcyclists, the laws of the road, and tips on how drivers can best proceed when they encounter a motorcycle rider can decrease the frequency of motorcyclist injuries and death by preventing accidents in the first place.
If you or a loved one is a motorcycle accident victim, contact a motorcycle accident attorney near you to schedule a free case consultation. If you suffer injuries and damages while on your motorcycle due to a driver’s negligence, you recover compensation.