No contest exists when a motorcycle is hit by a large truck or a souped-up pickup. Even a small sedan can take an enormous toll on the motorcyclist if a crash occurs. This happens because of the relative sizes of the motorcycle versus a larger vehicle.
A motorcyclist is unprotected by the structural shielding a motor vehicle has. The average car weighs about 4,000 pounds, and a loaded semi comes in at roughly 80,000. Both can decimate a motorcycle in a crash. Overall, the difference in protection, stability and size has an enormous effect on motorcycles vs larger vehicles.
Lack of Protection
One of the most significant factors in dangerous motorcycle collisions is the lack of protection the motorcyclist has. A motor vehicle has protections that absorb the impact of another car or truck. Unfortunately, this does not happen to a motorcyclist. The motorcyclist is subjected to dual impacts. The first occurs in the initial collision, and the second happens when the motorcyclist hits the pavement.
During a rear-end collision, a driver will be restrained by seat belts and cushioned by an airbag. This does not happen when a motorcyclist is hit from the rear. Instead, the driver is more likely than not thrown from the bike. After that, the motorcyclist may be dragged along the pavement, pushed by the force of impact. In other instances, the motorcyclist may collide with a fixed object.
Distribution of Force
The distribution of force that impacts a vehicle differs between a motorcycle and a car. For instance, if another vehicle hits a passenger car, the force of impact will be distributed across the frame. However, if the same occurs to a motorcycle, the force is not distributed in the same way and the motorcyclist absorbs the impact of the collision.
The Force of Impact Is Proportional to the Mass and Speed of the Vehicle
The bigger the vehicle is, the greater its mass. The force with which an object is hit depends on the speed and the mass of the object. Thus, a truck traveling at 70 mph can cause a serious or deadly accident when it strikes a motorcyclist.
In a head-on collision, the motorcyclist’s momentum is less than that of a truck. Remember, the truck’s momentum is considerably greater than that of the motorcycle since a big component is the mass of a semi. So, in a head-on collision, the momentum of the truck is greater than that of the motorcycle and more likely to cause damage.
Trucks Have More Blindspots
A tractor-trailer driver sees little directly behind them on their left and even less to their right. This is due to the truck’s blind spots. Another area that is invisible to the trucker is right in front of them and immediately behind them. These are called no zones.
Since motorcycles are small, the rider needs to take special care when merging in front of a truck and must leave enough room (several car lengths) when going back into the lane after passing a truck. This is important since the truck driver cannot stop on short notice and could easily hit the motorcycle in the rear.
A Motorcyclist Can Add Some Protection
Motorcyclists can protect themselves by adding the following:
- Helmet: It is important to use a certified helmet when riding a motorcycle. Check to make sure that it is certified by the Department of Transportation or other agency depending on the state. It is also essential not to wear a helmet that was in an accident.
- Protective wear: These may include leather clothing and heavy boots. Specialized protective jackets with built-in airbags are also available.