How Likely Are You to Get Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident?
Many people enjoy riding motorcycles, but it’s essential for new and veteran riders alike to understand the severe risks of injury that come with motorcycling. Motorcycles are smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable than most other vehicles. This makes them especially vulnerable in an accident, and these vehicles offer virtually no physical protection to riders and passengers. It’s crucial for everyone who operates or rides on a motorcycle to understand the significant risk of serious injury that comes with motorcycling and how to minimize the risk of experiencing a motorcycle accident.
It’s important to remember that while many statistics indicate motorcycling can be very dangerous, your safety on a motorcycle hinges on your own experience level, awareness, and ability to anticipate the actions of other drivers. However, it is not reasonable to expect any motorcyclist to be able to predict everything other drivers can possibly do at any given time, so all motorcyclists must know their options for legal recourse when another driver injures them due to recklessness or negligence.
What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Occur in Injury or Death?
Motor vehicle accidents continue to be one of the leading causes of accidental injuries and deaths in the United States. When accidents involving passenger vehicles occur, roughly 45% of them result in injuries. By comparison, nearly 98% of motorcycle accidents result in some type of injury.
The risk of fatal injury is also much higher on a motorcycle. About 20% of all passenger vehicle accidents result in a fatality, but more than 80% of motorcycle accidents cause fatal injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that motorcyclists are about 30 times more likely to experience a serious accident than passenger vehicle drivers.
Do Motorcycles Get in More Accidents Than Cars?
There are vastly more passenger cars on the roads in the US than motorcycles, so car accidents are far more common than motorcycle accidents. However, motorcycle accidents have a much greater chance of causing severe damages, including catastrophic injuries and fatalities. While motorcycles get in fewer accidents than cars, the accidents motorcycles experience are generally much more damaging.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accidents happen for many reasons, but the most common cause of these accidents is negligence. This is a legal term that refers to a party’s failure to act with reasonable care in a given situation. Negligence on the road can take many forms, including:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI is illegal throughout the United States. Operating any vehicle under the influence can cause devastating accidents resulting in catastrophic or fatal injuries.
- Distracted driving is a violation of a driver’s duty of care to pay attention to the road at all times. Drivers must stay focused and refrain from distracting actions such as cell phone use while operating their vehicles.
- Moving violations such as failure to use a turn signal when appropriate, running a stoplight or stop sign, or speeding are dangerous for all drivers. When drivers engage in these actions around motorcycles, they are far more likely to result in serious injuries.
- Aggressive driving, or intentionally maneuvering a vehicle in dangerous ways to intimidate other drivers, is not only negligent and illegal but also incredibly hazardous. A driver who causes an accident due to aggressive driving will likely face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability for the damages they cause.
These are only a few possible examples of how negligence can cause catastrophic motorcycle accidents. It’s essential for all drivers and motorcyclists to understand their duty of care and do everything they can to avoid accidents at all times.
At What Speed Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
Most people assume that the majority of motorcycle accidents likely occur at higher speeds. While it is true that accidents at higher speeds are more likely to result in serious injuries and fatalities, the NHTSA estimates the average speed for most motorcycle accidents to be around 30 miles per hour.
Motorcycle accidents do not only happen on highways in excess of 55 miles per hour; they also occur in urban and residential areas with lower speed limits. Drivers and motorcyclists should not assume that a low speed limit means a lower risk of an accident.
How Can You Avoid Getting Hurt on a Motorcycle?
Riding a motorcycle requires a different skill set than driving a car. It’s essential for anyone who wishes to ride a motorcycle to understand the value of proper training, professional safety courses, and the best available protective equipment to minimize their risk of experiencing a motorcycle accident injury. There are several tips all motorcycle operators and their passengers should know if they want to avoid accidents and injuries:
- Investing in appropriately-fitting safety gear is a great way to reduce your risk of a severe injury. Motorcyclists should wear heavy boots, thick pants, and protective jackets. Leather is especially helpful for reducing injury from friction burns, also known as “road rash,” and you can find motorcycle outerwear with protective padding as well. All motorcycle riders and passengers in California must wear Department of Transportation-approved helmets at all times while riding, and helmets can significantly reduce the risk of a fatal head injury in a motorcycle crash.
- Riders should refrain from speeding and only ride when they feel comfortable with the current weather and road conditions. Unfortunately, motorcycles encourage some riders to speed and take unnecessary risks that often lead to serious accidents.
- Motorcyclists should attempt to make themselves as visible as possible to other drivers. This can mean wearing bright colors and ensuring they use their vehicle lights when necessary. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than larger passenger cars, so anything a motorcyclist can do to boost their visibility to others can potentially lower the risk of an accident.
- Never operate a motorcycle (or any other vehicle) under the influence of alcohol or drugs. DUI is not only extremely dangerous to yourself and other drivers around you but also illegal. You could not only experience a severe accident but also incur criminal liability.
- Avoid risky maneuvers on your bike. Some motorcyclists will weave between lanes of slower-moving traffic or ride side-by-side with another rider in the same lane. While California law does not expressly forbid lane-splitting and the practice is actually legal in some situations, the practice is extremely dangerous.
These tips can potentially help you reduce your risk of experiencing a motorcycle accident or mitigate the damage from an accident. Remember that always erring on the side of caution is one of the best ways to avoid serious motorcycle accidents.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
While you can take steps to minimize your own risk of experiencing a motorcycle accident injury, the reality is that you cannot always anticipate the actions of other drivers nearby. In the event another driver causes an accident with you while riding your motorcycle, it’s vital to know your legal options for recovering your losses.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney is your best resource if you need answers about your current legal situation after you or a loved one experienced a motorcycle accident. At the Law Offices of Susan Handel, we understand how damaging a motorcycle accident can be and the uncertainty that can follow such an event. If you need legal advice after a motorcycle accident, contact us today and schedule a consultation with an experienced and compassionate motorcycle accident lawyer.