Motorcycles are much more than a means of conveyance for many Americans. Motorcycling is a hobby enjoyed all over the country, and while it can be extremely fun to feel the wind as you ride, riders must be aware of the inherent dangers of riding motorcycles. Unlike typical passenger vehicles, motorcycles afford their riders with very little protection from impacts and other external forces. Motorcycle riders must use extra caution on the road and keep a few best practices in mind.
Motorcycle accidents happen for a variety of reasons, but one of the main contributing factors to any type of accident is the size of most motorcycles. They are smaller and narrower than other vehicles and can easily slip through other driver’s blind spots. About 56% of all motorcycle accident deaths result from motorcycles colliding with larger vehicles, and this can occur in countless possible scenarios. However, some situations are far more dangerous than others. Consider the following tips and scenarios for staying safe while riding your motorcycle.
One of the most fatal types of accidents is when a motorcyclist hits another vehicle head-on. Most head-on collisions involving motorcycles and larger vehicles happen when the car strikes the motorcycle from the front. These crashes are usually fatal for the motorcyclist.
Statistically, the most dangerous situations for motorcycles on the road are when larger vehicles make left-hand turns. Cars turning left typically strike motorcyclists when the motorcycle is continuing straight through the intersection as the car turns or when the motorcyclist attempts to pass or overtake a left-turning car. These situations are also dangerous for other cars, but motorcycles are especially vulnerable due to their smaller size and because they are less visible.
Some motorcyclists engage in a practice called lane splitting – when a motorcyclist maneuvers between two lanes of slower or stopped traffic. Some states do not have any laws barring the practice, so if a lane splitting accident occurs, the state’s laws will come into play in a subsequent lawsuit. Lane splitting is NOT legal in the state of Texas.
Motorcycles typically have high acceleration and a fair range of maneuverability, but they can’t always react fast enough to avoid serious hazards on the road. Additionally, while a car may be able to run over a piece of road debris and barely feel the bump, the same piece of debris could spell doom for a motorcyclist. Motorcyclists must stay focused on the road ahead and give themselves an appropriate window to maneuver.
Motorcycles, especially sport and high-performance bikes, may inherently tempt their owners to push them to their limits and drive at excessive speeds. Some super-sport class motorcycles can easily reach speeds of 160 mph or more. The fatality rate for motorcycle accidents involving high-performance bikes is about four times the rate of conventional motorcycles. Owners of such bikes should use caution and obey the rules of the road.
Just like any other vehicle, operating a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible. Alcohol is a factor in about half of all motorcycle accidents involving a single bike.
Finally, one of the best things any motorcyclist can do to stay safer on the road is to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. While some states do not have helmet laws in place, it’s important to consider that helmets reduce the likelihood of death or traumatic brain injury in an accident. Even if you are an inexperienced rider living in a state without helmet laws, opting to wear one might save your life.
Motorcycle accidents lead to various serious or life-threatening injuries. Injured motorcycles should know their rights and their options for legal action should another driver cause an accident. If you suffer injuries and damages from a motorcycle accident, reach out to a reputable personal injury lawyer to discuss your options.