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Why Do Motorcyclists Have a Higher Risk of Accidents?


What are Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?


When you're riding or driving in a car, you're protected by two tons of steel, seat belts, airbags, and a guarantee that your vehicle is designed to absorb the force of a potential impact. Motorcyclists are at significant risk of injury after an accident than the driver of a car because they have limited safety equipment and are left exposed to the natural elements. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 80% of all motorcycle accidents resulted in serious injuries or fatalities. Only 20% of those accidents resulted in serious injury to car and truck drivers. 

Despite these alarming statistics, motorcyclists can increase safety by taking the proper step to reduce their risk, which might mean anything from practicing caution when lane splitting, refraining from speed, and anticipating road hazards. Many factors contribute to an increased risk of a motorcycle accident compared to people in cars. Here are some common factors that cause motorcycle accidents. 

Speeding, Lane splitting, and Other Common Factors


One of the leading and most widely underestimated causes of motorcycle accidents is curving roads and sharp turns. If a motorcyclist takes on a curve too quickly on their bike, their center of gravity will be lost. Losing their balance and traction will cause them to spin out of control, especially on rainy days that create icy, slick roads. The vast majority of weather-related accidents occur during rainfall, 70% on wet pavement, 18% during snow or sleet, and 16% on slushy pavement. Traditional vehicles are heavier than motorcycles, allowing them to make trickier turns without fearing that their car will spin out. Despite this, motorcyclists can minimize their risks by thoroughly understanding what factors are often at play in a motorcycle accident. 

Speeding or alcohol use causes half of all accidents involving motorcycles. While these factors play a significant role in the statistics for traditional motor vehicles, motorcycles don't provide ample protection resulting in more deaths when compared to other types of accidents. A motorcyclist or driver's ability to operate their vehicle becomes impaired when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In 2017, the NHTSA studied cases of motorcyclists who suffered fatal injuries. The study found that 28 percent of them had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent. About 49 percent of these deaths occurred during the nighttime hours. 

Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle wedges between two lanes that are stopped or slowed, usually by traffic jams. It is a common cause of motorcycle accidents for several reasons. The proximity of the cars to the motorcycle creates a significant hazard. The reduced nature of the space makes it difficult for the motorcyclist to maneuver. Additionally, cars don't often anticipate that a motorcycle will pass them in traffic. It is often complex to assign fault in accidents that occur because of lane splitting especially because it is a legal maneuver in California. Views given by the police officer(s) and the judge will be taken into consideration when determining fault. The driver and the motorcyclist's actions before the accident are also considered. 

Motorcycles Have Lower Stability 


Traditional motor vehicles have four tires that provide stability and traction. Motorcycles have lower stability and lack the exterior protection that a car offers. For these reasons, it is essential to get to know your bike before speeding towards the fast lane. You must understand your bike, the pressure you must apply to the front and rear brakes. Knowing your bike's center of gravity and how smooth your clutch and throttle are is incredibly important. Being aware of the traction on your tires and the hydraulic fluid could also help in an emergency. Safety experts recommend that motorcyclists begin with a bike and engine that is appropriate for their skill level. For example, drivers of sport motorcycles vs. supersport motorcycles tend to be between 18 and 34. 

High-performance motorcycles fall into two categories: supersport motorcycles and sport motorcycles. These motorcycles compromise only a small percentage of the overall number of motorcycles on the road, yet they account for a disproportionate number of accidents. Supersport motorcycles are built and modified to use on the highway. These motorcycles are built on racing platforms, extremely lightweight, and have high-horsepower engines. They can read at incredible speeds of up to 160 mph. 

A contributing factor to the high accident rate tends to be the overall age of riders. Younger motorcyclists are often less cautious and take more risk than an older rider. Sport motorcycles are similar to supersport motorcycles but have a lower power to rate ratio. Riders of supersport motorcycles are at four times the risk of riders who own conventional motorcycles like cruisers, standards, and touring bikes. Riders of these types of traditional bikes are often 40 years old or above. 

Motorcycle Accidents Due to Poor Maintenance 


Certain motorcycles may be suffering from dangerous maintenance woes. The following are some common concerns that lead to an accident when it comes to motorcycles.

Debris Accumulation: The accumulation of sand, dirt, or road debris on the interior of your motorcycle can cause corrosion of specific essential components resulting in your bike breaking down on the road. Motorcycle maintenance regimens include expensive cleaning of these components that are exposed. 

Inadequate Chain Lubrication: Preventing your bike's chain from snapping or locking means ensuring that they're lubricated continuously and free of debris. Chain failure due to poor maintenance can cause your engine to fail in the middle of a busy road. 

Fuel System Failure: If fuel hoses aren't regularly replaced or maintained, this could cause fuel to leak from the gas tank resulting in a sudden and severe accident, mainly because fire often results from the exposed fuel in these types of accidents. 

While not all maintenance failures are the rider's fault, doing your best to maintain your bike can significantly reduce your risk of a maintenance-related accident.

Road Hazards Facing Motorcyclists


Due to their smaller size and less stable nature, motorcycles face higher dangers from road hazards. Road hazards may include everything from potholes to dead animals or slick pavement conditions. Uneven nights between lanes and other irregularities like unexpected objects in the road also pose a serious safety threat. For this reason, motorcycle riders have a heightened duty of care, especially when looking out for other motorists. 

Even if a motorcycle rider applies safety practices and follows all of the rules on the road, other driver behaviors threaten the safety of motorcyclists. Consequently, motorcyclists are seriously injured or killed when involved in a collision with a car due to their bikes' reduced nature of safety.

Some example of negligent driving that violates the rights of the drivers and pedestrian are: 
  • Tailgating a motorcycle rider too closely.
  • Incorrectly estimating a motorcycles speed.
  • Failing to concede the right-of-way.
  • Failing to check blind spots before switching lanes. 

Lane sharing or lane splitting is legal in California but is considered incredibly dangerous and exposes motorcyclists to an increased risk of being involved in an accident. Beware of other motorists who divert their attention from the road or are hostile about sharing the road with motorcyclists. To decrease the occurrence of low or high-impact collisions, motorists should operate their bikes responsibly and remember that they are sharing the road with all different types of vehicle operators and pedestrians. If a driver fails to heed these simple rules, they risk causing potentially devastating accidents. 

Contact a West Coast Trial Attorney for Answers to All of Your Questions


Victims injured in accidents, including motorcycles, automobiles, bicyclists, and pedestrians, are entitled to some form of compensation. One of our exceptionally talented personal injury lawyers can help you receive compensation for any serious injuries you've sustained as well as property damage. Drivers who act negligently and violate another persons' rights on the road should be held liable for their reckless behavior. Our attorneys understand California motorcycle laws and regulations and will fight for your right to fair compensation. 

Contact us at (888) 979-9356 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation. You may also use the form below to speak with one of our compassionate attorneys. 

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