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What is the Most Common Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

While motorcycle crashes aren’t as frequent as other traffic accidents, they are more likely to cause injuries or death. 

It is estimated that per mile traveled, 35 more fatalities result from motorcycle accidents than from car collisions. And according to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than car occupants to die in a crash.

What causes these crashes? We look at some accident facts and statistics to identify the top causes of motorcycle accidents, and how to avoid them.

Car Making A Left Turn

This is considered to be the single most dangerous scenario for motorcyclists in traffic. Some estimates say as many as 42 percent of car-and-motorcycle collisions involve the car trying to make a left-hand turn. Typically, the motorcycle is on the left side of the car, moving to pass it at an intersection. But because motorcycles are smaller, car drivers may not immediately see them when maneuvering to the left.

How to avoid this accident: Any vehicle must slow down when approaching an intersection. A vehicle attempting a left turn should look out for oncoming traffic in the left lane. At the same time, the rider (or driver) that is behind another vehicle at an intersection must look for signs that the vehicle is about to make a turn.

Head-on Collision

According to a 2018 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 76 percent of motorcycles in two-vehicle collisions were hit in the front. Head-on collisions are particularly dangerous to motorcyclists because these usually occur at high speeds — the rider could be thrown in the air or otherwise crushed by the other vehicle.

How to avoid this accident: The “Four Rs” are recommended to reduce the possibility of colliding head-on: Read the road ahead, drive to the right (or stay in the right-hand lane), reduce speeds, and ride off the road slowly when a head-on crash seems imminent.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting or lane riding is the practice of driving between two lanes of vehicles, usually in a traffic jam. Motorcyclists are often blamed for doing this, but lane splitting is actually legal in California, albeit with strong guidelines. If not done safely, lane splitting increases the risk of an accident because of the motorcycle’s close proximity to surrounding cars, its minimal space to maneuver, and its small size that makes it less visible to unsuspecting drivers.

How to avoid this accident: In general, a motorcyclist might want to avoid lane splitting altogether if they don’t want to be blamed for potential accidents. But if it has to be done, the rider must follow the guidelines of the California Highway Patrol. These include: travel at a speed within 10 mph; opt to ride between the far left lanes if possible; be visible to other motorists and never remain in their blind spots.

Speeding, Intoxication, Or Reckless Driving

Drivers of all sorts of vehicles can be guilty of overspeeding, drunk-driving, or reckless driving. However, when a motorcycle is involved, the consequences can be much more injurious or deadly. 

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 24 percent of California motorcyclists killed in a crash had a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher in 2018.

How to avoid this accident: There is no better way around it than to obey basic driving rules: stay within speed limits, don’t get behind the wheel when intoxicated, and avoid reckless behavior on the road.

Road Hazards for Motorcycles

Compared with regular passenger cars, motorcycles are less stable, lighter, and smaller. This means that even mild hazards on the road — such as gravel, bumps, potholes, debris, and slick pavements — could be more dangerous to motorcycle riders. It’s easy for a motorcycle to wipe out when it comes across these road hazards. The risk is even greater when the motorcyclist is riding too fast for road conditions.

How to avoid this accident: Riders must always be on the lookout for road conditions ahead of them, and maintain safe speeds depending on these conditions.

Consult With Reliable Motorcycle Injury Attorney in California

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Robert Hamparyan RidingWith the many circumstances surrounding a motorcycle accident, it can be challenging to establish a certain party’s fault. Motorcyclists often face bias that presumes them as irresponsible riders, but many of these crashes are caused by other drivers.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a California motorcycle accident, fellow rider and Super Lawyer Robert Hamparyan from Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers, APC can help. Call (619) 550-1355 today for a free motorcycle accident injury case consultation.


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