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Motorcycles accidents: Why they occur and how to prevent them

There are thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the United States, each having their own reason for loving to ride their two-wheeled passion. Some of those reasons include camaraderie, fuel efficiency, cost of ownership, and the freedom of the road in open air. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents rank very high in the number of personal injuries and fatal accidents.

Statistics shows that motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a collision than are passengers in the motor vehicle that hit them. They are also five times more likely to sustain an injury.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that

  • Motorcycles make up 3% of all registered vehicles

  • Motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in 2016

  • 26% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were alcohol impaired

  • 91% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were male

  • 36% of all fatalities in 2016 were older riders.

Common causes of motorcycle accidents

Why are there so many motorcycle accidents with serious injuries and fatalities? Here are a few common causes.

  • Other drivers fail to see motorcyclists: Other vehicle drivers who have hit a motorcyclist consistently report that they did not see the motorcycle, and it’s probably true. A driver looking for cars perceives an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle. Also, motorcycles are relatively small and drivers don’t see them.

  • The most common type of motorcycle accidents occurs at intersections when the driver of a vehicle is making a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist. These accidents frequently occur when the motorcycle is going straight through the intersection, or is passing a car.

  • Research shows that drivers find it difficult to gauge the speed of motorcycles when passing them or when turning into an intersection, and most often underestimate the speed of the motorcyclist.

  • Motorcycles do not provide any real protection for its riders, made worse by the lack of mandatory helmet laws in many states. Also, motorcyclists frequently do not wear appropriate clothing to prevent severe road rash, in the case of an accident.

  • Drivers don’t anticipate a motorcycle’s movements.

  • The driver is distracted!

  • Poorly maintained roads with cracks and potholes can cause a motorcyclist to lose control of his bike; so can, gravel, debris, mud, dead animals, and spills.

As you can see from the list, most motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers; however, there are instances when the motorcyclist is negligent, due to lane splitting, speed, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and inexperience.

Types of motorcycle crash injuries

Serious injuries, other than tragic fatalities, can arise from motorcycle crashes. Among them are:

  • Broken bones

  • Facial disfigurement (usually when the rider is not wearing a helmet)

  • Concussions

  • Traumatic brain injury

  • Road rash

  • Biker’s arm (a nerve damage injury to the upper body caused by landing on one or both arms)

Everyone on the road needs to participate to prevent motorcycle crashes

Everyone on the road has a responsibility to prevent motorcycle crashes.


  • Be aware that you share the road with motorcyclists (and bicyclists), and take great care when turning at an intersection, checking that a motorcycle is not in your blind spot, or is coming in the opposite direction.

  • Use your turn signal to alert motorcyclists of your intentions.

  • Check before making a right turn, as there may be a cyclist on your right. Be careful not to cut him off

For Motorcyclists:

  • Wear a helmet and protective clothing.

  • Get professional training and learn about motorcycle safety.

  • Maintain your bike.

  • Don’t share lanes with other vehicles.

  • Avoid road hazards.

  • Don’t speed.

  • Drive defensively.

  • Know your skill level.

  • Learn proper group riding etiquette when driving with riding buddies.

  • Don’t be a showoff or an idiot.

For more information on motorcycle safety, the NSC has some excellent information.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact us.

Please click on to read our other personal injury articles. If you have any questions related to personal injury law, please call us at 920-725-8464, or toll free at 1-800-529-1552. Our personal injury consultations are always free.

The content of this blog was prepared by Law Offices of DiRenzo & Bomier, LLC for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Offices of DiRenzo & Bomier, LLC -client relationships can only be created by written contract.

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