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Home / Motorcycle Accident / 10 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

10 most common causes of motorcycle accidents

10 Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Riding a motorcycle is one of the most thrilling activities you can do. Nonetheless, motorcycle riders are vulnerable to accidents when sharing the road with other motor vehicles. They are 28 times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than vehicle drivers and passengers.

The impact of motorcycle crashes can be devastating, whether unsafe lane changes or other drivers’ failure to see the motorcycle rider caused them. You may prevent future motorcycle accidents and injuries by understanding the causes and taking measures to minimize risks when riding.

1. Unsafe Lane Changes

Changing lanes requires all drivers, including motorcycle riders, to ensure if a vehicle is nearby and in another lane and to move slowly and consistently. An unsafe lane change may involve:

  • Failure to look at their blind spots for other vehicles
  • Not using a light or hand signal
  • Crossing one or more lanes quickly

When a driver changes lanes without looking, they can collide with the motorcycle rider or push the motorcycle into another lane of traffic. The driver can even push the motorcycle rider off the road.

Motorcycles can also be hard to see when glare or obstructions make it difficult for drivers to see them. The 2019 Traffic Safety Facts report from the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) found ‌that driver vision blockage contributed to almost 3% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes. These obstructions include rain, snow, glare, lighting, buildings, and trees.

Motorcyclist riding on empty road.

2. Excessive Speeding

Speeding is a major factor in many vehicle accidents, including those involving motorcycles. The NHTSA estimated that speeding was involved in over 29% of all fatal traffic accidents in 2020.

Motorcycle riders must also drive according to the posted speed limits and watch out for other vehicles on the road. Speeding increases the chances of losing control of the vehicle, hitting another object, or being hit by another driver who may not stop on time. In 2020, approximately 34% of motorcycle riders in fatal accidents were speeding. Unfortunately, 45% of motorcycle riders between the ages of 25 and 29 were speeding‌ at the time of their fatal accidents.

3. Driving Under the Influence

In California, alcohol-related fatalities decreased by 4.5% from 2018 to 2019 for all drivers, including motorcycle riders. However, alcohol use among motorcycle riders around the country remains a high risk for other vehicle drivers.

Nationwide, motorcycle riders are more likely to be involved in crashes than other vehicle drivers. Over 27% of motorcycle riders were found to have higher levels of alcohol impairment in fatal motorcycle crashes compared with passenger car drivers and truck drivers in 2020.

Motorcycle riders are more likely to die from alcohol because riding a bike requires refined motor skills and coordination. Blood alcohol concentrations, even as low as 0.2, may cause impairment of judgment and visual cues of seeing other drivers and pedestrians while driving on the road. It is best for motorcycle riders to stay sober before they decide to ride their bikes.

4. Lane Splitting

Motorcycle riders in California may move between lanes of traffic in a maneuver known as lane splitting. They can consider the move when it is safe to do so considering the size of the lanes, other vehicles in the lanes, and the weather.

This can be dangerous since the risk of injury or death increases if a motorcycle rider is driving at high speeds. The California Highway Patrol advises motorcycle riders to avoid lane splitting near large vehicles like trucks and buses. In addition, the patrol recommends that drivers watch out for lane-splitting motorcycles and not block their way or open a car door to stop them.

In the event that you are involved in an accident with another vehicle while you were lane splitting, a Glendale motorcycle accident lawyer can assist you in determining who is responsible for the damages to your bike. If the driver is underinsured or lacks insurance, your lawyer can help you review your insurance coverage for underinsured/uninsured and look into legal options.

5. Rear-End Collisions

Motor vehicles can rear-end motorcycles when they tailgate one another, and the car comes to an abrupt stop. Rear-end accidents make up 7% of all motorcycle and passenger vehicle accidents. However, when a rear-end accident occurs, motorcycle riders can fall or fly from their bikes onto the car at their front, causing serious injury.

Common motorcycle accident injuries from this type of collision include:

  • Severe lacerations
  • Road rash
  • Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord trauma
  • Internal organ damage
  • Broken bones

6. Left Turn Accidents

California right-of-way laws apply to all motor vehicle drivers at intersections, highways, and roads. Motor vehicles making left-hand turns at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to all approaching vehicles, especially motorcycles.

Driver misjudgment and errors in estimating distance can cause drivers to collide with motorcycle riders when making a left turn at an intersection. Across the 2,741 fatal crashes involving motor vehicles and motorcycles in 2020, 42% involved vehicles turning left and the motorcycle riders driving straight or overtaking other vehicles.

7. Lack of Motorcycle Riding Skills

Anyone wanting to ride a motorcycle in California must carry a valid Class M1 license to operate one. However, 36% of fatal crashes in 2020 had riders who did not have proper licenses, compared to 17% of passenger car and truck drivers.

All new and experienced motorcycle riders should take basic riding safety courses to learn how to prevent accidents by caring for their bikes and making safe turns. Riders should also stay aware of their surroundings, watch out for road hazards, and drive their motorcycles defensively to help other motorists be aware of their presence.

8. Poor Motorcycle Maintenance

Riders must ensure their bikes are in good operating condition to prevent part malfunctions or wear and tear from causing an accident. Motorcycle owners can use the TCLOCK checklist provided by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) to ensure all elements of their bike are functioning normally.

TCLOCK stands for tires and wheels, controls, lights, oil, chassis, and kickstand. The MSF’s checklist includes detailed checks for your motorcycle, including:

  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Brakes
  • Battery
  • Headlamp
  • Suspension
  • Kickstand

There can also be defects in motorcycles and their parts that make them unsafe. For instance, motorcycle riders can suffer serious injuries if their tires blow out, skid, or run off the road due to defective tires. Lawyers for motorcycle accidents can investigate if a defective part in your motorcycle caused your accident and can hold the manufacturer liable for your injuries.

9. Lack of Helmet Use

California motorcycle helmet laws require all drivers and passengers to wear safety helmets. For safety reasons, these helmets must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218 218 and be approved by the Department of Transportation. Helmet usage is vital since motorcycle fatalities involving unhelmeted riders increased from 38% in 2019 to 40% in 2020.

Wearing a helmet can save your life and financial costs in an accident. In 2017, motorcycle helmets saved nearly $3.5 billion in economic costs for emergency services, property damage, and loss of work. If all riders wore helmets, they could have saved them an additional $1.5 billion in economic costs.

10. Dangerous Road Conditions

Since motorcycles lack the safety of passenger cars and trucks, riders are more likely to lose control of their vehicles when they come across road hazards. These hazards can range from potholes to uneven pavement. A lack of signage for traffic directions and sudden lane changes can also cause motorcycles to get into accidents in construction zones.

Additionally, poor road conditions caused by ice, rain, or sleet contribute to motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle tires don’t have as much traction as passenger vehicles and are more significantly affected under poor weather conditions.

Consult with Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at The Shirvanian Law Firm

Motorcycle riders must pay special attention and care to their vehicles and other drivers on the road. If you get into an accident with a vehicle, work with a motorcycle accident law firm such as The Shirvanian Law Firm to ensure you understand your rights.

Our motorcycle wreck lawyers can investigate your accident to determine liability in the collision and help you pursue a fair settlement from a negligent driver. In the event of a fatal motorcycle accident, we can help the family of a deceased loved one file a wrongful death claim.

Arrange a free consultation today and find out how you may receive compensation after a motorcycle accident.

Questions & Answers

What percentage of motorcycle riders get in accidents?

Deadly motorcycle accidents make up 14% of all traffic accidents. This number is the highest percentage of fatal motorcycle collisions recorded by the NHTSA since 1975.

What percentage of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death?

Motorcycle ownership is only 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States. However, motorcycle riders made up 18% of all driver and passenger fatalities and 4% of all injuries in 2020.

How common are motorcycle accidents?

For every 100,000 motorcycle vehicles, fatal motorcycle accidents increased to 67.08% in 2020 from 58.68% in 2019. Motorcycle riders had a fatality rate of 31.64% per 100 million vehicle miles traveled during the same period.