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5 Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

causes of motorcycle accidents

Last year saw an uptick in the overall number of fatal crashes involving motorcycles. Cars and trucks are designed to crumple under the force of a crash to protect riders, but motorcycles don’t have these features. A collision that would be a benign fender-bender between two cars might cause severe injury to a biker.

In motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles, car drivers are more likely to be at fault for specific unsafe actions, and motorcyclists are more likely to be at fault for others. Being aware of the most frequent causes of motorcycle accidents is one of the first steps toward preventing them.

1. Failing to Yield the Right of Way

Imagine you’re waiting to turn left at a four-way intersection across incoming traffic. It may be easy to judge the speed of oncoming cars because you’re used to sharing the roads with those kinds of vehicles. But motorcycles are smaller and faster, and it may not be as easy to judge how fast they’re going from a distance. It is better to wait until the motorcycle passes to make a turn, rather than risk turning too soon and colliding.

In motorcycle accidents, drivers of other vehicles are more often at fault for failing to yield the right of way. This can happen at stop signs and intersections as well as highway merge lanes. In Indiana, the merging vehicles must yield the right of way to vehicles already on the highway. Motorcycles must try extra hard to stay out of blind spots, so it is always important to check your blind spot and mirrors before merging onto the highway.

2. Unsafe Backing

In multiple vehicle accidents involving motorcycles where unsafe backing was the primary cause, over 90 percent of the fault is attributed to other vehicles. That is because it is easier to miss a motorcycle than a car or truck. They’re smaller and easily concealed behind obstructions, other vehicles, and blind spots.

Parking lots can become hazardous for cyclists rather quickly if we’re not paying attention. If you don’t take the time to carefully check your rear view and side mirrors, or turn to get a panoramic view of what’s behind your vehicle as you back out, it can be easy to miss an approaching motorcycle.

3. Unsafe Speed

sideview mirror

It’s not uncommon to see a motorcyclist taking advantage of their size and acceleration by speeding through traffic. It’s fun to get wrapped up in the freedom and speed of the vehicle, but that doesn’t make excessive speed any less dangerous.

Drivers focused on safely passing the car in front of them may not notice a speeding motorcycle approaching behind or beside them. This is called inattentional blindness: by filtering out distractions in order to focus closely on something, we may not see unexpected objects — like missing a speeding motorcycle when trying to pass on a three-lane highway.

Also, motorcycles can’t just slam on their brakes if someone pulls out in front of them. Abrupt braking can throw the rider off their bike and may result in road rash, broken bones, or even traumatic brain injuries.

In multivehicle accidents involving motorcycles where speeding was the primary cause, cyclists are more often at fault. If you have a motorcycle be sure to keep to the speed limit, and give yourself enough distance to brake safely should something happen in the road in front of you. If you are driving your car behind a motorcycle, give them extra space so you have time to react if they stop or slow down.

4. Loss of Control

In multivehicle crashes involving motorcycles, motorcycle drivers are three times more likely to be at fault for loss of control. After driving a car, adjusting to a motorcycle can take some getting used to. Motorcycles are heavy and require tighter control—a nearly 1-to-1 relationship between the driver’s body and the bike itself—and there are more regulations a cyclist must learn than a standard vehicle operator.

One of the leading cause of motorcycle crashes is new or unendorsed riders who haven’t completed proper safety training. Injuries may occur if a motorcyclist fails to properly negotiate a bend or curve in the road, or if they lose control while at highway speeds. The turbulence from getting passed by a a large vehicle like a semi truck could also cause a motorcycle to wobble.

New motorcyclists must must undergo training and essential earn their drivers’ license all over again before they can legally hit the road. Losing control of your bike for even a moment can result in a crash. Stay vigilant.

5. Improper Turning

Improper turning includes switching lanes or making a turn without using turn signals, turning left on a red light, and failing to stop or yield when turning right on a red. Cars are more often at fault for switching lanes and infringing on a motorcycle’s right of way.

Up to 42 percent of accidents between cars and motorcycles occur when a car is making a left-hand turn. It’s easy to guess why – motorcycles are smaller and faster, and other drivers may not see them or may misjudge the distance between them when switching lanes.

About a quarter of these accidents are the fault of the motorcycle rider. It may be tempting to speed off at a turn in front of a car, trusting the speed of your bike to outrun the car. Be careful to give yourself adequate time to turn safely, and always remember to use your turn signal. Cars should ensure that there is a distance of at least two cars between them and the motorcycle before switching lanes.

Help from an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer

Motorcycle accidents tend to be more serious than car accidents because they are smaller vehicles and offer less protection for the driver. If you or someone you know has been hurt—seriously or otherwise—in a motorcycle accident because of another driver’s negligence, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.