Motorcycle riding is exhilarating and fun, but due to the nature of the ride, it is inherently more risky than other types of commuting. In fact, according to federal government statistics, there are 35 more deaths per mile traveled for motorcycle accidents than car accidents. Though that’s an alarming amount, it’s even more disturbing to consider that crashes involving motorcycles and other types of vehicles make up 56% of deaths from motorcycle accidents.
When you are riding this summer, be sure to wear a helmet and protective clothing. However, these protective measures can only do so much. Consider these common causes of motorcycle accidents and how to steer clear of them when you’re on the highway.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Collisions
Head-on Collisions. What is most surprising about accidents involving motorcycles is that 78% of the time the accident is a result of a vehicle hitting the motorcycle’s front, only 5% result from back end accidents. If that’s the major cause, it implies that most of these deaths could have been prevented with a bit of extra caution.
To avoid head-on collisions when riding, make sure there is plenty of space around you and other vehicles. It’s not only an issue of other drivers not seeing you; it’s that motorists often misjudge how they can maneuver around motorcyclists. Take their errors in judgment as a likelihood and ride with room on all sides, if possible.
Cars Making Left Turns. 42% of all accidents involving cars and motorcycles are a result of a car making a left-hand turn. Motorcyclists are at their most vulnerable during this situation. These collisions usually happen when:
- Motorcyclists are going through an intersection
- Motorcyclists are attempting to pass the car
- Motorcyclists are trying to overtake the car
Of course, left-hand turns are responsible for many car-to-car accidents, but since motorcycles are less visible and more vulnerable, these collisions can be much more deadly. Unfortunately, cars and trucks aren’t generally on the lookout for motorcycles.
Motorcyclists can make themselves more visible to protect themselves in these situations. Only pass in the same lane as the cars around you when you are sure those drivers have seen you. As a general rule, try to pass in another lane for safety.
Lane-Splitting. Legal in some states, lane splitting is when motorists ride between the lanes of slowly moving or halted traffic. This practice, which is illegal in West Virginia, causes accidents due to:
- The motorcycle’s proximity to other vehicles
- The lack of space the cyclist has to maneuver
- Other drivers not expecting movement during the slowed traffic
For personal injury lawsuits, lane splitting can be a mitigating factor. If a cyclist is injured as the result of someone’s negligence but was lane splitting, that act may affect the amount of awarded damages. West Virginia has a comparative liability statute, which means that lane splitting may have caused the cyclist to be partially at fault. For your protection against injury and a ticket, avoid lane splitting.
Speeding or Intoxication. A common cause of motorcycle accidents, speeding and riding while intoxicated both dramatically increase the chances of an accident or injury. Remember the power of your bike – you need all your mental faculties to ride safely for yourself and others. You may feel like you can speed and still control your motorcycle, but speeding can have dire consequences for motorcyclists.
For motorcyclists who have been injured, speaking to a qualified West Virginia personal injury attorney who understands the nature of motorcycle accidents is crucial. Discuss your options with the team at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC today. We offer complimentary case reviews after motorcycle accidents.