Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are a serious problem in the United States. Every year, about 4,000 motorcyclists die, and another 70,000 are injured in collisions with other vehicles on America's roadways.
Were you involved in a motorcycle accident, or did you lose a loved one through another's negligent actions?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for motorcycle accident victims and can help your family too.
Call a motorcycle accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
To reduce this toll of a common motorcycle accident, all drivers must understand how to share the road safely with motorcycles. It includes understanding why motorcycle accidents occur so frequently at intersections and how to prevent them.
Motorcycle Riders and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified several factors contributing to motorcycle crashes when moving straight through an intersection, passing or turning across traffic lanes where cars or trucks pull out from side streets or parking lots into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
- Driver distraction
- Driver error
- Failure by drivers who make left turns in front of bikes to check for approaching traffic
- A lack of visibility due to blind spots created by car design
- Limited sight distance caused by lane positioning
- Poor weather conditions such as rain, dark, or limited lighting
- High speed by one or more road users
When turning left across lanes of oncoming traffic, turn-signal use is critical for ensuring that other drivers are aware of the intent to move. A rider's last-second swerve or maneuver to avoid a collision can be disastrous.
Data and Statistics: Motorcycle Accidents
While motorcycle crashes are not more common than any other type of auto accident, the severity of injuries suffered is disproportionately higher.
For example, a motorcyclist is 35 times more likely to die than someone crashing in a passenger vehicle in a common motorcycle accident, partly due to the limited protection provided for motorcyclists.
According to data, the motorcycle accident percentage rate of all traffic accidents has stayed approximately constant since 1996. However, the number of fatalities per accident involving a motorcycle has decreased over this period.
Motorcycle Accident Facts
The NHTSA statistics regarding motorcycle fatalities in 2012: Of the total 4,976 motorcyclists killed, 39% were not wearing helmets. In crashes where a motorcycle driver was speeding, 58% of the motorcyclists were also speeding. In fatal collisions with motorcycles, 39% failed to yield the right-of-way to the biker, and 33% did not see the motorcycle before colliding.
Most motorcycle accidents occur in clear weather (68%) and on dry pavement (74%). Less than 10% of accidents involve motorcycles colliding with fixed objects, animals, or pedestrians.
Understanding the common causes of motorcycle accidents is a valuable tool for motorcyclists and others occupying the road in the crusade to reduce the number of needless motorcycle-related fatalities.
If you have been injured, the Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC may be able to help you recover the compensation you require to move forward with your physical and emotional recovery. We specialize in motorcycle accident cases.
Motorcycle Accident and Passenger Vehicles
The sheer weight and size of a large passenger vehicle crashing into a motorcycle can be catastrophic. When a car or truck hits a motorcycle, the crash's impact often results in severe injuries and fatalities.
Vehicles on two wheels are more difficult for other drivers to spot, especially if they are in a blind spot or the driver is distracted. Motorcycles are also smaller than passenger vehicles, making them harder to see and less likely to be given adequate time to maneuver out of harm's way.
According to data from 2013, there were 4,986 motorcycle riders killed on America's roads. Of those fatalities, 35 percent weren't wearing a helmet.
There may be times when you think you can see a motorcycle, but it suddenly appears to the left or right as its rider maneuvers to avoid an obstruction such as another vehicle, object, or hazard in the road. Just as drivers must give other vehicles room to maneuver, motorcycle riders must do the same.
Motorcycle Accidents From Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end collisions are the most common type of accident involving motorcycles. When compared to cars and trucks, motorcycles can stop at a shorter distance. As a result, it is more likely that other drivers will end up bumping into them from behind.
As a motorcyclist, it is important to make sure you are visible to other drivers. It will increase the chance they will notice you and give you enough time to stop or maneuver out of harm's way.
Lane Splitting and Lane Switching Motorcycle Accidents
The most horrific common motorcycle accident resulting in catastrophic injuries and death involve lane splitting and lane switching. As the name suggests, lane splitting (and switching) is when drivers cut between lanes on a highway.
Some states prohibit this practice, others allow it with certain limitations and requirements, but most driver's manuals advise drivers not to maneuver in this fashion because of the risks involved. Even though many drivers feel they would like to do this to avoid traffic, those same drivers often feel differently when they see motorcycles maneuvering in this way.
In some states, lane splitting is generally allowed as long as a rider does it safely and at a speed no faster than 50 mph.
If you have been injured by a motorist who was cutting between lanes or if you have lost a loved one because of this avoidable accident, the Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC may be able to help you recover the money you need for your recovery.
Roadway Defects and Motorcycle Accidents
Even though many drivers feel motorbikes are dangerous on any road, statistics show that most fatal motorcycle accidents occur on highways and rural roads. Although Illinois is not one of the states that prohibit this practice, there are certain areas on roadways where motorcycle riders are prohibited from splitting lanes.
We believe it took too long for Illinois to make some previously legal maneuvers illegal for motorcycles while increasing penalties for drivers who fail to give riders room when they practice them legally.
Motorcycle Accident and Passenger Vehicle Defects
If you've been in a motorcycle accident, the last thing you want to think about is whether or not your motorcycle was defective. However, there are times when the causes of motorcycle accidents could be traced to a defect involving the motorcycle or a component.
One example of this is the problem with Takata airbags in at least five deaths due to defective inflators.
Motorcycle Accidents Involving Potholes, Curbs, and Other Road Defects
Potholes are often found on city streets and rural roads alike. Even though potholes can cause damage to all types of vehicles, they are particularly dangerous for motorcycles.
A motorcycle's tires can drop into a pothole and cause the driver to lose control of the bike, and it is one of the common causes of motorcycle accidents that can result in serious injuries or death.
Road hazards such as recessed or exposed maintenance hole covers, curbs, raised intersections, potholes, broken pavement, sharp turns, uneven road surfaces, and debris in the road can cause a motorcycle rider to lose control and crash.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
All riders must wear an approved motorcycle helmet in Illinois while riding on public streets, roads, and highways. It is another law in place that has helped reduce the number of fatal motorcycle crashes.
Riders who refuse to wear helmets are often involved in more serious accidents than their helmet-wearing counterparts because they frequently suffer head injuries.
Whether you are a motorcycle rider or involved in an accident with one, knowing about laws concerning riders can help you better understand the risks involved and how to avoid them.
The Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycle injuries can result from motorcyclist and driver negligence, and there is a myriad of ways in which motorcyclists can suffer harm. Our Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers believe that understanding these causes can help everyone on the road avoid accidents in the future and save lives.
Here are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Left-hand turns: Studies have shown that performing a left-hand turnat a busy intersection is one of the most dangerous maneuvers behind the wheel today. Depth perception and the ability to accurately gauge the speed of oncoming vehicles are required to time the turn correctly. Unfortunately, drivers tend to lose these capabilities as time goes by. As a result, motorcyclists are often involved in catastrophic accidents when cars pull in front of them while making left-hand turns.
- Head-on collisions: Over half of all motorcycle fatalitiesare the result of head-on The force of impact is to throw a motorcyclist from a bike and into another object or vehicle, colliding with it. Even if the victim survives, the chances of serious and debilitating injuries are high.
- Turning car strike: some vehicles involved in catastrophic motorcycle accidents happen when the turning car strikes touring motorcycles going straight through the intersection, hurting the biker and passenger car occupants.
- Lane splitting: one of the most annoying actions taken by motorcyclists during rush hour is to occupy the space between two lanes to move past slow-moving or stopped vehicles. The motorcyclists themselves are more likely to collide with vehicles due to a limited amount of space on the same lane between cars, and drivers are less likely to notice the motorcyclist when attempting to shift lanes.
- Collisions with fixed objects: motorcycles are much more difficult to control than other vehicles due to the need to balance and shift the bike's center of gravity to perform maneuvers. Should motorcycle riders lose control, they may collide with barricades, road fixtures, signs, railings, or buildings.
- Speeding: As with all other types of auto accidents, speed plays a significant factor in the risk of a crash and the severity of the injuries suffered in one. Many accidents can be prevented if drivers and motorcyclists alike would merely slow down.
- Tailgating: Motorcycles are rarely provided the space or respect on the road they deserve, and it is much more difficult for motorists to react when a motorcyclist needs to come to a quick stop. A motorcyclist tailgating other vehicles are equally at risk of being involved in a motorcycle crash, putting their lives at risk merely to arrive at their destination a few minutes earlier.
- Two-wheel instability: Every motorized two-wheel vehicles are unstable around the vertical axis, which means that most two-wheel vehicles are inherently unstable. This lack of stability is because motorbikes have not been designed to minimize the effects of two-wheel instability around the vehicle's center of gravity (CG) or its roll axis.
- Loss of control: Motorcycle drivers risk losing control of the vehicle, especially when skidding with two-wheel stability around the CG. The high risk of losing control is because bikes are not designed to minimize this phenomenon.
- Counter steering: Many two-wheel vehicle riders compensate for this lack of stability with counter-steering techniques. Counter-steering is the most known and used by riders to control two-wheeled vehicle instability around the CG safely. However, the act of counter-steering a motorcycle requires training from experienced riders and must be learned under controlled conditions.
- Drugs and alcohol: A staggering 50% of accidents occurring only a motorcyclist are linked to alcohol and drug use with a high blood alcohol concentration level. In addition to reducing reaction time, the influence of alcohol can impact the Motorcycle riders' abilities to maintain balance and operate their bikes.
- Poorly maintained roads: Road hazards are much more likely to be one of the common causes of motorcycle accidents than other types of auto accidents. For example, potholes, uneven pavement, and sudden lane narrowing can throw cyclists off balance or make them lose control of their bikes. Poorly placed or inaccurate signage may also cause an accident if it leads vehicles into the wrong lanes, unlike driving on a motorcycle safety course.
- Distracted driving: One of the most dangerous habits is reckless or distracted driving. Many motorists that share the roads with motorcyclists are multitasking, where vehicle drivers never see an oncoming motorcycle. They are having phone conversations or sending and reading text messages, which makes them a danger to everyone else on the road, including a motorcyclist.
- Driver assistive technologies: Many of the technologies advertised to reduce the risk of a common motorcycle accident may also become the cause of one. Features such as autonomous braking may cause a vehicle's brakes to engage when the car senses danger ahead. It becomes precarious when the car is followed by a motorcycle, and the brakes engage due to a false positive. These assistive technologies also provide drivers with a false sense of security and diminish their natural driving abilities and instincts.
- Adverse weather conditions: Conditions such as fog, rain, or ice can contribute to the common causes of motorcycle accidents. While many motorcyclists avoid the roads during the winter months, some can be caught off guard by a late spring or fall snowstorm. In addition, fog, rain, and glare from the sun can make it more difficult for other drivers to spot and track motorcycles, placing their operators at higher risk.
- High-performance bikes: Motorbikes classified as a sport and supersport motorcycles are lighter-weight bikes that operate at much higher speeds. Their riders are far more likely to act recklessly, testing the limits of their motorcycles' speed and maneuverability. Somesupersport bikes can reach speeds more than 160 mph, which is a deadly speed to be traveling before an impact or dismount.
- Road rage: a motorcyclist can often be involved in road rage incidents due to their behavior toward other motorists or other drivers' impatience with them. Regardless of who is at fault for these incidents, there is no excuse for dangerous acts, especially when they threaten the lives of all those involved.
Although high-performance motorcycles account for a small percentage of the total number of motor vehicles on the road, they are involved in a disproportionately high number of serious accidents with severe injuries and death.
Our Chicago motorcycle injury lawyers hope that drivers and motorcyclists become more aware of the hazards they face on the road and minimize their risk of being involved in an accident.
The injuries suffered in these types of collisions are far more severe and likely to alter or bring an end to the victims' lives. It is for this reason that motorcycle safety should always be taken seriously.
Avoiding High-Speed Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle accidents are far more likely to result in severe or fatal injuries compared to accidents with other types of motor vehicles. In addition, high-speed crashes are considered the most dangerous type of accident for motorcycle operators and passengers.
The danger that high speeds pose to a motorcyclist is partly due to the lack of protection in an accident. In addition, riders who are not involved in accidents may be injured or killed due to their proximity to other vehicles or objects that cause serious injuries, such as lacerations, broken bones, and rib fractures.
Tire failure is one of the common causes of motorcycle accidents at high speeds. Potholes, small rocks, oil slicks, wet pavement, and dry pavement can all cause tires to fail, especially when traveling at speeds as high as 70 mph or more.
For all those who ride bikes and those who love them, finding ways to minimize the risks of accidents is always a top priority. According to the NHTSA, there are many things that a motorcyclist can do to protect themselves on the road. These include:
- Wearing protective gear: helmets, goggles, boots, jackets, and gloves all serve to protect riders in the event of an accident
- Wearing reflective clothing at night or during times of low visibility
- Keeping themselves visible to other motorists by wearing bright colors
- Riding sober
- Choosing routes that are well-suited for a motorcyclist and avoiding distractions
- Be a defensive driver
Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Attorney to Resolve a Compensation Case
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC routinely represents motorcyclists who have been injured in accidents and their families. If you have been in a crash, we would like to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to for the cost of your medical treatment, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses.
Contact our motorcycle accident law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation for immediate legal advice.
Arrange a risk-free consultation with one of our award-winning Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys to learn more about your rights. If we are unable to collect compensation on your behalf, our services will be free of charge.