How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?

Many people living in California own and enjoy riding motorcycles. While these vehicles can be incredibly fun, they are also some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road for several reasons. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are almost 30 times more likely to die in crashes than drivers of typical passenger vehicles.

All motorcyclists need to understand the risks their vehicles present. While you may enjoy riding your motorcycle as an alternative to conventional passenger vehicles, there are substantial risks that every rider must acknowledge. Motorcycle accidents tend to cause catastrophic and fatal injuries, often resulting in substantial economic losses for victims and their families.

How Do Most Motorcyclists Die?

Most fatal motorcycle accidents that occur in the US involve a motorcycle and another vehicle. Fatalities most often happen when the other larger vehicle strikes the motorcycle from the front. Head-on collisions are some of the deadliest accidents for any driver, but motorcyclists are especially vulnerable since they have no physical protection from the impact of a crash. Motorcycles also do not have the safety features found in passenger cars, such as impact-resistant vehicle frames designed to crumple and absorb crash forces, airbags, and safety belts.

Multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcyclist fatalities happen for many reasons, including:

  • Distracted driving. All drivers must pay attention to the road so they can react in time to adjust to sudden changes in traffic conditions.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI). DUI is illegal in the US and one of the leading causes of fatal accidents, including fatal motorcycle accidents. A driver who causes a fatal accident due to DUI will likely face criminal charges in addition to civil penalties to the victim’s family.
  • Aggressive driving. Drivers who engage in risky maneuvers like weaving between traffic lanes, passing on the shoulder, or swerving to scare nearby drivers are an extreme risk. It’s always best to keep your distance from any driver who appears to be dangerously aggressive.
  • Speeding. While it’s not uncommon to see the flow of traffic a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit, it is always best to adhere to speed limits at all times. This not only helps avoid tickets for speeding but also lowers the risk of losing control of your vehicle at a dangerous speed.
  • Moving violations, such as failing to signal before changing lanes, running stop signs, or violating posted traffic signals.

It’s vital for all drivers and motorcyclists to understand these risks, and they must know how to identify dangerous conditions on the road in real time.

What State Has the Highest Motorcycle Fatalities?

According to data from the NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the most dangerous states in the US when it comes to the highest numbers of motorcycle fatalities include Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, Hawaii, and North Carolina. These states have the highest numbers of fatalities per 10,000 registered motorcycles. California ranks quite low based on this metric. Still, it ranks among the highest when it comes to the total number of fatal motorcycle accidents each year due to the very high number of motorcycles on California roads compared to most other states.

You should not consider your state’s fatal accident rate as a metric for gauging your overall safety on a motorcycle. It’s possible to ride a motorcycle and suffer a fatal accident in the state that is statistically safest for motorcyclists. It is equally possible to ride for years without experiencing a motorcycle accident in the state that is statistically most dangerous for motorcyclists. Your risk of dying on a motorcycle fluctuates around many different factors that are constantly changing every time you leave your home.

Why Do Motorcycles Increase Driving Risk?

Motorcycles are inherently riskier to drive than conventional passenger vehicles for several reasons:

  • A passenger vehicle is enclosed, and the vehicle’s body panels and frame protect the driver and passengers from crash impact forces. Motorcyclists have virtually no physical protection from crash impact forces.
  • When a motorcycle crashes with another vehicle or vice versa, the force of the crash is likely to throw the motorcyclist off their bike. This means they are likely to suffer injuries from both the initial crash and the secondary impact of hitting the ground.
  • Motorcycles are smaller and more maneuverable than larger passenger cars, which unfortunately tempts some riders to engage in risky maneuvers like lane-splitting and weaving around slower-moving traffic.
  • Due to their smaller size, motorcycles are harder to see than standard passenger cars. If a motorcyclist lingers in another vehicle’s blind spot, the other driver may not notice them and cause an accident with a lane change.

If you wish to own and ride a motorcycle in California, you must complete a specialized driving test and display practical knowledge of your vehicle. It’s wise to invest in professional motorcycle training to further increase your confidence on the road. While you cannot anticipate the actions of other drivers all the time, you can take steps to minimize your own personal risk level and become a more confident rider.

Will I Die if I Ride a Motorcycle?

Ultimately, if you are worried about dying in a motorcycle accident then it is probably best to avoid riding a motorcycle. It is undeniable that riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than riding in a passenger vehicle and carries a much greater risk of fatal injury.

It’s possible to take several steps that can potentially reduce your risk of dying in a motorcycle accident, such as investing in rider training courses, purchasing reliable safety equipment, and only riding during optimal driving conditions. However, it is impossible to predict the actions of the other drivers you will encounter on the roads. While it is not accurate to say that you will definitely die if you ride a motorcycle, it is safe to say that your risk of dying on a motorcycle is much greater than your risk of dying in an enclosed passenger vehicle.

Legal Options Following a Fatal Motorcycle Accident

If a loved one recently died in a motorcycle accident and the accident might have occurred due to another driver’s negligence, contact our firm. It is essential to contact a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. If your loved one would have had grounds to file a personal injury claim following their accident, you and your family likely have the ability to file a wrongful death claim instead of a personal injury action.

Handling a wrongful death claim can be incredibly challenging, both emotionally and financially. It is essential to choose a reliable and experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to represent your case if you decide to take legal action for a recent wrongful death. A successful wrongful death action can potentially secure compensation for any and all losses resulting from the death in question, as well as additional compensation for the family’s pain and suffering.

If you recently suffered severe injuries in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver or have lost a loved one due to another driver’s negligence, The Law Offices of Susan Handel can help you determine your best available options for legal recourse. Contact us today to schedule a case evaluation with an experienced and compassionate motorcycle accident attorney.