Motorcycles have been on the highways for a very long time now. Unfortunately, just as is the case with other vehicles, in the past decade alone motorcycles have been involved in more accidents than any one person can count.
Motorcycles Crashing Head-On Into Oncoming Traffic
Accidents that involve motorcycles and other vehicles make up more than 55% of all fatal motorcycle accidents. In about 78% of these accidents, the vehicle usually crashes into the motorcycle from the front. The vehicle only hits the motorcycle from the rear in about 5% of the accidents. It is usually the motorcyclist who surfers the most injuries in such accidents because he or she is not protected by anything more than a helmet
Motorcycles Crashing Into Fixed Objects
Accidents that involve a speeding motorcycle and a fixed or stationery object make up about 25% of all fatal motorcycle accidents. This figure is this high because of how exposed the motorcyclist is during the crash.
According to 2006 statistics released by the US government a few years ago, there were 35 more motorcycle accidents for every mile traveled that year, than there were for motor vehicles.
Despite the 10-year gap since the report, the statistics still tell the public just how much motorcycles are prone to accidents especially when the rider does not take precautions to reduce the risks. Therefore, it is important for every rider to know what causes these accidents so that they can prevent any loss of life or damage to property.
Motor Vehicle Making a Sudden Left-Hand Turns
The size of a motorcycle allows it to maneuver easily through traffic. This small size unfortunately also means that many motorists will only see the approaching motorcycle when it’s too late to avoid a collision.
The most dangerous situation for any motorcyclist is when he or she is riding on the left hand side of a vehicle that’s trying to make a left turn. Accidents that involve this kind of scenario account for about 42% of all motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents. The accident normally happens when the motorcycle crashes into a vehicle while trying to overtake it or pass it. It can also happen when the motorcycle is riding a through an intersection.
In this kind of motorcycle accident, usually the motorist will be found at fault if he or she hits a motorcyclist while trying to make a left turn. The motorcyclist may be found partly at fault if he or she was already committing a traffic violation (over speeding, ridding on the wrong lane) just before the accident.
In some states in the US, if the motorcyclist bears part of the blame for this kind of accident, he or she only gets less compensation for the accident. Also in some states, the motorcyclist may never be compensated if found partly to blame.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist squeezes through the narrow space left between two stationery cars. This is quite common in traffic jams. A motorist passing in between two stationery cars increases his or her chances of crashing into either vehicle because the close proximity does not allow much room to react in an emergency. Most drivers are also caught off guard because they usually do not expect that anyone would try to pass in between their stationery or slow moving cars.
Different states have different laws that determine who’s at fault when an accident that involves lane splitting occurs. The conduct of both the driver and the motorcyclist prior to the accident will also be taken into consideration. Some law courts will also consider the views of the police officers present at the scene of the accident to make a ruling.
Alcohol Abuse and Speeding
Almost 50% of motorcycle accidents are caused by either alcohol abuse or speeding, or both. These accidents usually result in serious injury or even death. This is because motorcycles, unlike motor vehicles, do not offer the rider much protection against injury in an accident.
Motorcyclists face more risks from otherwise minor road hazards than other road users. The less stable nature and small size of motorcycles make them vulnerable to almost every hazard on the road. While things like dead animals lying on the road, potholes, uneven heights between two lanes, slippery pavements, etc may not be a concern for motorists, they pose a serious risk to motorcyclists.
High Performance Motorcycles
Despite their relatively small number on the roads, high performance motorcycles account for a huge percentage of motorcycle accidents. High performance motorcycles are categorized into two; sport motorcycles and super sport motorcycles.
Sport Motorcycles: These types of motorcycles are made from racing designs that have been modified for road use. Compared to super sport motorcycles, their power to weight ratio is usually smaller. Sport motorcycles are mostly favored by riders who are 34 years old and below.
Super sport motorcycles: These are heavily based on racing designs. The designs are slightly modified to make them roadworthy. These motorcycles have the potential of reaching very high speed due to their high horsepower engines and relatively light weight. An average super sport motorcycle can easily reach speeds of up to 160 mph. This type of sports motorcycle tends to attract people who are below the age of 30. In a way, this contributes to the high accident rate. Younger riders tend to take more risks and be generally less cautious than their older counterparts.
The death rate in accidents that involve sport motorcycles is twice as high as the one in accidents involving conventional motorcycles. On the other hand, accidents that involve super sport motorcycles have four times the death rate of accidents that involve conventional motorcycles. The lower death rate for conventional motorcycles can be attributed to the riders’ more mature age. These are usually individuals in their 40s and above.
Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable of all road users. However, these riders can improve their safety when they know what exactly increases their risks of getting involved in road accidents. Whether it is ensuring that they stay where they are visible to other road users, or whether they resist the urge to speed, every motorcyclist can do something to ensure that they keep the roads safe for themselves and for other motorists.