What Are the Main Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?By Stewart J. Guss on February 24th, 2020
Motorcycle accidents resulting in fatalities have decreased across the nation in recent years. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports a whopping five percent decrease in one recent year. Yet, fatal and non-fatal motorcycle accidents still occur far too often.
Do you know why? CARELESS and RECKLESS motor vehicle and truck drivers don’t know how to safely share the road with two-wheelers. Bikers aren’t dumb. They understand they have less protection on their bike than in a car, which is why most bikers are safe drivers who follow traffic laws and operate their motorcycles in a safe manner.
Safe bikers, however, cannot control the actions of motorists who think they own the road and don’t watch for other traffic, especially motorcycles. If you suffer a motorcycle accident, you have a higher likelihood of fatality. If you’re lucky enough to live through the accident, you can have debilitating injuries that will dog you for years to come, if not for the rest of your life.
Motorcycle accidents can leave victims cannot return to work and with a pile of medical bills to cause major stress and anxiety. That doesn’t even take into account the physical pain of recovery and healing and the impact on family members who have to pick up the slack at home when an injured biker can no longer perform the same chores around the house.
If you sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, YOU DESERVE COMPENSATION FOR THE DAMAGE a bad driver caused, so contact a skilled and aggressive motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. If you have been fortunate enough to avoid accidents on your bike or you are new to motorcycles, we want to offer you information about the causes of motorcycle accidents so you can avoid falling victim to inexperienced, careless, and negligent drivers.
This guide provides a broad overview of several negligent driver behaviors that cause severe, sometimes fatal motorcycle accidents.
Drunk and Drugged Driving
Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking or using drugs is one of the most reckless things a motorist can do. Alcohol and drugs impair a drivers’ ability to process information as they are driving, and the impairment is often worse when both substances are present.
Impairment from alcohol and drugs makes it difficult, sometimes impossible for drivers to react to traffic control devices, animals in the road, other vehicles, and road hazards. Sometimes drivers react too late and don’t look where they are going when they turn or swerve and they run right into a motorcycle. In other cases, a driver might react too slowly to a motorcycle in front of them and strike them from behind.
Some drivers don’t need to be impaired to never check their mirrors or clear their blind spots while driving. When alcohol or drugs are involved, it’s even more likely a driver will run into a motorcycle. Drunk and drugged drivers are especially dangerous at night. Motorcycles can be difficult to see for even the best drivers, but adding darkness to impaired driving is a deadly combination that can result in a fatal accident and painful injuries.
Remember that prescription drugs can impair a driver too. If those in cars don’t take prescriptions as directed by their doctor or mix alcohol with their prescriptions, they put everyone on the road in danger, especially motorcycles.
Driving While Distracted
If you encounter a noticeably distracted driver on the road, pull your bike over, let them pass, or get by them as quickly as you can. When drivers are distracted, it means their eyes, hands, and/or mind isn’t on the task at hand. This is pretty irresponsible considering most passenger vehicles weigh between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds.
When drivers don’t pay attention to driving, they turn their vehicles into rolling death machines that can cause treacherous motorcycle accidents.
When you think of common driver distractions that cause accidents, it’s likely your mind goes to cell phones. It’s true that cell phone use, especially texting and driving can lead to serious traffic collisions. Texting and driving is a triple threat because it takes a driver’s mind off driving, hands off the wheel, and eyes off the road.
This is why many states have implemented strict laws requiring hands-free use of cell phones and laws that prohibit young drivers from all cell phone use. Yet distracted driving has caused accidents long before cell phones were invented.
Other distractions include:
- Adjusting a radio, GPS, climate controls, or other vehicle features
- Eating and drinking
- Helping backseat passengers
- Having intense conversations or arguments
- Watching another event outside the vehicle
- Combing hair, putting on makeup, and other personal grooming activities
- Reaching for something in the backseat, passenger seat, or on the floor
Driving a vehicle is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. Drivers need to focus to drive safely and to see motorcycles and other traffic, as well as follow traffic regulations. When drivers get distracted by choice or no fault of their own, they cannot respond to the information in front of them, putting motorcyclists and others who share the road at risk for a severe traffic accident and accompanying injuries.
Driving Too Fast or Driving Too Slowly
Speeding isn’t typically a direct cause of motorcycle accidents, but speeding is strongly correlated with a driver losing control of a vehicle. When drivers lose control they can swerve, rear-end, or strike a motorcycle on the side, causing severe injury. Speeding doesn’t only include traveling over the posted speed limit. It also includes drivers who aren’t smart enough or safe enough to slow down for bad road conditions, inclement weather, or in heavy traffic.
Even more reckless are drivers who speed around curves and corners and over hills. A car can easily swerve into oncoming traffic, causing a motorcycle accident. Speed increases the force of a collision, which also increases the danger of injury and the likelihood of fatality in a motorcycle accident.
Driving too slowly might not cause fatal accidents as often, but it can still lead to severe injuries when accidents occur, especially for bikers. When drivers go too slow they block the movement of traffic that can create unneeded slowdowns and bottlenecks: these are EXTREMELY dangerous for bikers.
Slow drivers create the most danger for others when they travel in the fast lane of a highway or interstate. In many states, it’s illegal to obstruct traffic in the left lane of a multi-lane road; drivers must stay to the right unless they are merging into traffic, exiting to the left, making a left-hand turn or going faster than other traffic.
Slow drivers in the left-lane can start a chain reaction causing a multi-vehicle crash, putting bikers at high risk for accident and injury. Bikers who are involved in a multi-vehicle crash are lucky to walk away. Many times, these crashes lead to a motorcyclist getting pinned between or stuck under vehicles.
Impatient and inexperienced drivers cause accidents when they follow others too closely. Teenage drivers who haven’t been on the road long might not understand how important it is to leave enough space when following others. Impatient drivers choose to drive recklessly and tailgate others.
Driver education courses instruct new drivers to leave a two-second gap with following other vehicles, and defensive driving instructors recommend a four-second gap, especially in inclement weather and high amounts of traffic. When a driver follows close enough to cause an accident, they are breaking the law in most states and putting motorcycles at risk for a severe rear-end collision.
When drivers tailgate a motorcycle, they also risk running over the bike and/or biker. If the biker needs to apply his brakes or make a turn, drivers who tailgate don’t have the time or distance to react to the situation. When drivers are impaired from drugs or alcohol or drowsy, it makes matters worse. Additionally, dangerous hazards on the road such as trash, tire rubber from a blowout, and animals can start a chain reaction when traffic is present. If a motorcycle tries to avoid these things, drivers who are tailgating might even CRASH into the biker.
Disobeying Traffic Control Devices
Most drivers don’t purposefully disobey stoplights, stop signs, and other traffic control devices. Instead, it’s often drowsy and fatigued drivers, drunk drivers, or distracted drivers who don’t properly watch for signals and signs. Regardless of intent, disobeying traffic control devices is illegal and can cause dangerous accidents at intersections. Motorcycles and other vehicles might not have the time or distance to avoid a crash when a negligent driver runs a sign or light.
Many drivers do, however, ignore No U-turn signs. Drivers who make illegal U-turns, usually do so quickly without checking mirrors or blind spots. It’s not uncommon for these drivers to miss motorcycles who might be behind them or in a blind spot and ending up cutting one-off, which can result in a DANGEROUS AND DEADLY motorcycle accident.
Another intentional example of ignoring traffic control devices is playing “beat the yellow light.” Reckless and impatient drivers don’t want to stop when they see a yellow light getting ready to turn red. Instead, they RUSH through the intersection. If traffic from the other direction starts moving, these drivers risk causing an accident. Bikers are especially at risk because the likelihood of an impatient and reckless driver noticing them is low. Sometimes in rural areas, drivers choose to run stop signs because traffic is light or non-existent. All it takes is for ONE motorcycle to be traveling through the intersection, and the consequence is a deadly, maybe even fatal, motorcycle accident.
Failure to Use Turn Signals
Even the safest drivers forget to use or choose not to use their turn signals all the time. It might be LAZINESS. It might be COMPLACENCY. Some just figure others know where they are going (HA!). In fact, a recent national study surveyed thousands of motorists and found only 75 percent of them use their turn signals when turning and almost half don’t use their turn signals when changing lanes. These startling numbers result in about two million traffic collisions per year across the nation, which the United States Department of Transportation reports as double the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.
Most state laws require drivers to use their turn signals at least 100 feet before an intersection to signal their intention to turn. When drivers correctly use their turn signals they send information to those who share the road about their intentions. This gives other drivers and bikers the chance to respond appropriately to the maneuver. EVEN BETTER, using turn signals REQUIRES ALMOST ZERO EFFORT!
Bikers are especially in danger when motorists don’t use their turn signals when they change lanes on interstates and highways. It’s easy for a driver to run into a motorcycle, which is difficult to see. Large semi-trucks, who frequently travel on interstates, are especially dangerous for bikers when they don’t clear blind spots and use their signals. When a semi-truck and a motorcycle get in an accident, it’s highly unlikely the biker will live through the ordeal. When a biker sees a turn signal, they can slow down or change lanes to avoid a potentially severe traffic crash.
Consult an Attorney After a Motorcycle Accident
Even if you are a safe biker who wears a helmet and proper gear, and drives defensively, you still risk inexperienced and impatient motorists causing an accident while you ride. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial stress of your accident and injuries because some other reckless driver couldn’t be bothered to follow traffic laws, because he thinks he owns the road and doesn’t care about the safety of others.
If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you take legal action. An attorney can handle all of the unpleasant communications with the insurance company, investigate your accident, and advocate for you to make sure you get every single penny you deserve!