Even for the most experienced riders, motorcycling brings an element of risk. The truth is that motorcyclists are more vulnerable on the road than other drivers, even if they follow every precaution in the book.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, motorcyclists were nearly 29 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident compared to passenger car occupants.
The devastation that these crashes can cause to family, friends, and colleagues is huge. As the Chicago Motorcycle Safety Lawyers state, “We’ve seen first hand with our own personal friends, neighbors, and clients the devastation an accident, a difficult recovery, or a failed recovery can cause”.
By learning about how most motorcycle accidents are caused, you can reduce the chances of being involved in a collision. With that said, here are five of the most common motorcycle crashes and what you can do to avoid them.
Accidents at Intersections
Data from the NHTSA suggests that collisions at intersections account for around half of all motorcycle accidents. This is because intersections are full of activity, with multiple vehicles moving in different directions all at once.
Motorcycle accidents at intersections are often caused by:
- Left-turning cars,
- Rear-end collisions,
- Vehicles running a traffic light or stop sign.
As is the case for many motorcycle accidents with other vehicles, intersection collisions usually occur when the car driver doesn’t spot the motorcyclist.
To minimize the risk of collisions at junctions, pay extra attention to the other vehicles around you. Focus on the driver’s line of sight as well as if the wheels of the car are already moving. If you anticipate movement from the car, decelerate.
Collisions While Overtaking
Overtaking on a motorcycle can be a dangerous maneuver for riders. In the UK, 15% of motorcyclists were recorded as performing an overtake when involved in a crash compared to just 2.6% of cars.
Accidents while overtaking can occur where hidden vehicles pull out at a junction or the car being overtaken makes an unexpected movement. However, this is one type of crash that is usually caused by the motorcyclist’s negligence.
Before overtaking, motorcyclists need to have a clear picture of everything that is going on around them. In addition, they should be aware of their vehicle’s acceleration over short distances. An understanding of these factors will enable them to judge whether an overtake is safe or not.
Accidents Whilst Lane Splitting
Lane splitting or filtering refers to when a motorcycle drives between two lanes to pass stationary or slow-moving traffic. Although it is illegal in some states, it is a common occurrence at traffic congestions or traffic lights.
Lane splitting is rife for collisions because:
- Cars don’t expect an overtake in slow-moving traffic so they are less observant,
- There is close proximity between cars and motorcycles,
- The motorcyclist has little room to maneuver if they need to get out of the way.
Collisions whilst filtering can occur when a driver makes a sudden movement, opens a door, or sticks their arm out of the window. The best way to avoid this kind of accident is simply to avoid lane splitting. Otherwise, exercise maximum caution when doing so.
Head-on collisions are not uncommon and are extremely dangerous as they typically occur at higher speeds. When the motorcycle is stopped abruptly, riders can be crushed by the impact or sent through the air. Unsurprisingly, these accidents are the most likely to have fatal consequences.
Head-on crashes crop up on narrow country roads or other thoroughfares with only one lane. Driving on the wrong side of the ride or too close to the other lane frequently leads to a collision, particularly around bends with poor visibility.
To avoid these accidents, keep to the outside of your lane as much as possible. Keep your eyes on the oncoming traffic; if you notice a vehicle jerking towards you, always reduce your speed in anticipation.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Whilst accidents relating to surface conditions are not as common as those involving other vehicles, road conditions should still be at the forefront of any motorcyclist’s mind. Risk increases where the weather is bad and the road is poorly maintained.
Examples of dangerous road conditions include:
- Debris on the road
- Edge breaks
- Animals on the road
- Slick surfaces
Motorcyclists should have a good understanding of the roads before they set off on their journey, including particular areas for concern. In wet conditions, always ride cautiously. You can always check the news for weather reports or road issues.
Besides driving, there are several other steps motorcyclists can take to avoid harm. Never drink and drive. Notably, around a third of fatal accidents occur when the motorcyclist is alcohol-impaired.
If you are involved in an accident, wearing a helmet goes a long way to preventing serious or fatal injury. Protective gear combined with safe driving practices is the best way to prevent accidents from occurring and safeguard against any resulting damage.