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Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents do not occur with any greater frequency than other types of accidents, but when they do occur, injuries and fatalities are much higher than if two passenger vehicles collided. Motorcyclists are not in enclosed spaces like automobiles. They do not have the body of a vehicle to protect them. They do not have seat belts to restrain the rider, and they do not have air bags to protect the rider if the force an impact throws them forward. Motorcycles present a much smaller profile than passenger cars in traffic, and they offer only half the stability. The most common reason for them being involved in collisions is that people just do not see them.

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According to the Insurance Information Institute, 4,586 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2014. Although that figure was down 2.3 percent from 2013, about 92,000 people were injured. That represents a 4.5 percent increase from 2013. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle crash injuries and fatalities follow:

 – Cars Making Left Turns

A staggering 42 percent of all motorcycle crashes with a passenger vehicle are caused by the passenger vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle. Most of the time, the driver turning left fails to see and yield to the motorcycle. In other cases, the driver does not judge the speed of the oncoming motorcycle correctly. These types of motorcycle accidents occur in intersections more frequently than they do on straight roadways.

 – Head-on Collisions

The head-on collision occurs when the front end of a passenger vehicle or truck impacts with the front of a motorcycle. They often result when a vehicle veers into an oncoming lane of traffic. These impacts usually carry catastrophic results. Even helmets offer little protection in head-on collisions. These types of crashes actually occur more often than rear-end collisions.

 – Lane Changes

Compounding the danger of cars not seeing motorcycles is the fact that they often do not hear motorcycles either. A motorcycle can be in traffic positioned next to a car, and suddenly the car can make an abrupt lane change and impact with the motorcyclist. In that scenario, it is likely that the driver of the car never saw or heard the motorcycle next to them. It certainly is not illegal for a motorcyclist to drive next to a car. What comes to issue again is that the motorcycle presents a smaller profile than a car in traffic. With windows up and a stereo on, drivers of passenger vehicles might not even know that the motorcycle is next to them.

 – Road Hazards

Because of having only two wheels coupled with a motorcycle’s inherent instability, motorcycles are more likely to be involved in accidents that involve ordinary road hazards that do not affect other motorists. Those hazards might include uneven pavement heights, railroad tracks, leaves, slick road surfaces, potholes, gravel, debris or animals on the roadway. Hazards and speed are the primary causes of most motorcycle crashes involving only a single motorcycle.

 – Rear-end Collisions

Surprisingly, only about five percent of all motorcycle accidents involve rear-end collisions. What might be a relatively light impact rear-end collision between two passenger vehicles can be quite dangerous when a motorcycle is hit. When stopped in traffic, the motorcyclist cannot avoid a rear-end impact. It is likely that the motorcyclist is going to end up on the pavement after a rear-end collision.

 – Distracted Driving 

Most motorcycle enthusiasts drive defensively and are fully aware of the potentially catastrophic consequences of a motorcycle crash. Other than error on the part of the motorcycle rider, most motorcycle accidents involve distracted driving by the operator of a passenger vehicle.

As per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving is “any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Driving requires visual, manual and cognitive brain functions. When any one of those brain functions is diverted to another task, a driver is deemed to be distracted. Distracted driving can include but not be limited to:

  • Talking on a cell phone
  • Texting
  • Using a navigation system
  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers

The NHTSA reports that drivers in their 20s are 27 percent of all distracted drivers and 38 percent of all distracted drivers who were using a cellular device in fatal crashes. The average time that a driver’s eyes are off of the road while texting is five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, drivers are essentially covering the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Motorcycle accidents involve complex litigation. Motorcyclists who have been injured in accidents, or the families of motorcyclists who were killed in accidents should contact a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney for a free consultation and case evaluation. You may be in a favorable position to receive compensation for your damages.


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