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Study: Size Perception a Major Cause in Fatal Motorcycle Accidents

by John Gomez | Last Updated: June 7, 2016
Motorcycle Accidents

All of us who are not motorcyclists have at least shared the road with them.  These vehicles offer several advantages to those who drive them, but also come with one distinct disadvantage in that motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable to serious harm when motorcycle accidents occur.  The reasons for this vulnerability are obvious, as those riding on two wheels simply do not have as much protection around them.

According to the results of a recent study, there could be another leading reason as to why motorcyclists are so prone to serious injuries and deaths in crashes.  In furtherance of our updates relating to National Safety Month, we’ll discuss that study below and provide some ideas for how to make the roads a bit safer for every type of vehicle.

About the Motorcycle Accidents Study

The study, a link to which can be found here, was recently released after being completed by a researcher at Texas Tech University.  Professor Patricia R. DeLucia studied fatal motorcycle accidents that occurred across the United States.  What she found was that in general, people tend to believe that large objects that are farther away are going to collide with them sooner than they actually would.

Likewise, they tend to believe that smaller objects that are closer to them and that would collide with them sooner would actually take longer to make contact.  In the study, this was referred to as the “size-arrival effect” and clearly, this does not work in favor of motorcyclists relative to motorists in larger vehicles.  Professor DeLucia found that more than 40 percent of all of the fatal motorcycle accidents she studied involved a vehicle turning left and into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics and Ideas for Avoidance

According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner, more than one person per week is killed in San Diego motorcycle accidents.  Hundreds of other motorcycle accidents occur on an annual basis.  Statewide, more than 500 people are killed in these types of crashes every year, and the number is remaining alarmingly steady despite all of the increase in awareness with regards to motorcyclist safety.  Many of these crashes are caused by the negligence of drivers in larger vehicles.

In terms of minimizing the chances for motorcycle accidents, there are several things that can be done by both motorcyclists and drivers of larger vehicles:


  1. Dark clothing tends to have you blend in with your surroundings.  Wear different colors so you’re more easily seen.
  2. Make your motorcycle appear bigger.  Either driver a larger cruiser or put some attachments on your motorcycle to give it a larger appearance.
  3. Assume nothing in terms of people’s ability to judge your distance and speed.  Extra caution is almost always warranted.

Other Motorists:

  1. Keep an eye out for all moving objects, regardless of size.  Motorists tend to notice other cars, trucks or SUVs but every moving thing matters.
  2. Give yourself extra room and time if you’re going to be turning left in front of a motorcycle.  If you’re at all unsure of the time available, wait for the motorcycle to pass.
  3. Increase your following distance when you are behind a motorcycle.

If you have been wrongfully injured in a motorcycle accident, you should also make sure to protect your legal rights.  Contact the San Diego motorcycle accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today to schedule a free initial consultation.

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