A fatal motorcycle accident is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Anyone who rides a motorcycle is at a greater risk of injury over those riding in a passenger vehicle. The risks come from numerous sources. In some situations, the motorcycle driver makes the mistakes. In others, it is because other drivers fail to notice the presence of the motorcycle. Yet, many people love riding and should not have to give it up to remain safe. Understanding these risks and taking steps to prevent accidents can help protect the safety of motorcyclists.
Preventing Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
In This Article:
- Know the Risks of a Motorcycle Crash
- What Makes a Motorcycle So Much More Dangerous?
- How to Avoid a Fatal Motorcycle Accident
- Invest in Quality Motorcycle Safety
- Know the Most Common Cause of Accidents
- Managing the Blind Corner
- Vehicle Rear-Endings
- Vehicles Changing Lens
- Other Risks to Avoid
Know the Risks of a Motorcycle Crash
Knowing the statistics about motorcycle crashes can shed some light on just how worrisome it can be to get on a bike today. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 5,286 people killed in motorcycle crashes in 2016. This is about 5.1 percent higher than the number of people who died a year earlier.
When a person chooses to get on a motorcycle instead of a passenger car, the risks of a fatal accident increase dramatically. The same study shows a motorcyclist is 28 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than anyone who is in a passenger vehicle – per vehicle mile traveled. In short, individuals who decide to ride need to recognize just how dangerous it can be. Once they understand this, they can begin to see the value in taking steps to avoid a fatal crash.
What Makes a Motorcycle So Much More Dangerous?
Numerous factors contribute to the high level of danger associated with motorcycle riding. First, consider the road conditions. Bikes have two wheels and a significantly smaller frame. They cannot handle the amount of movement or shifts in roadway conditions that a typical vehicle can. A wet surface can be very dangerous – so take precaution.
Many motor vehicle drivers do not pay specific attention to motorcyclists on the road. This means a bike turning a corner is easy to miss. It also increases the likelihood of the bike rider suffering a fatal accident if he is not careful.
They also have less protection. If a car or truck hits a motorcycle, there is no protection for the driver. This is why motorcycle accidents tend to involve more deaths than passenger vehicle accidents. There is no framing around the vehicle to help protect the rider.
How to Avoid a Fatal Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycles are not without some level of protection. For example, motorcycle brakes are very powerful and fast-acting. Most motorcycles have tires designed to grip the road better than vehicle tires. Most are also easy to handle – allowing for easy turning to avoid an accident. Yet, the driver him or herself is the most important factor in avoiding a motorcycle accident.
Invest in Quality Motorcycle Safety Gear
Motorcycle riders can avoid many of the risks they face by the wearing proper gear every time they get on their bike. A good quality motorcycle jacket, such as one made of a high-quality leather or synthetic, with bright colors or large panels featuring reflective material will help people see the rider. The same type of material can protect the legs.
Helmets can mean life or death. Selecting a helmet approved by either the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Snell standard is a good start. It is important to choose a helmet that fits properly. It must have EPS foam in the lower area to protect the face. An inner lining of EPS foam is also beneficial.
Well-fitting, comfortable clothing is essential. Using bright colors also helps. It aids in letting other drivers see the rider. A good fit also minimizes the risk of being caught while turning or maneuvering with ease.
Know the Most Common Cause of Accidents
A fatal motorcycle accident is more common in situations where a car turns left in front of the rider. This often happens because the vehicle driver does not gauge the distance between the motorcycle and the car properly. It can also happen if the driver fails to see the motorcyclist. Unfortunately, many drivers look only for other cars in oncoming traffic. They fail to take notice of the bike.
The only way to avoid this type of accident is to pay attention. The rider cannot control the actions of the vehicles on the road with them. But, the rider can develop skills to help anticipate the actions of others. When approaching an intersection, riders must always assume oncoming traffic will not see them. Pay attention to the flow of traffic. If a car is waiting to turn, notice the gap in traffic opening a space for that vehicle. Slow down and be ready to move or stop if the vehicle starts to turn.
It is also possible to simply notice the movements of the car to predict what is happening. If the tires are turning, riders need to be ready to take evasive action. If the road surface is wet, riders need to take this into consideration as well. It can mean the vehicle will swerve. Other conditions matter as well. This includes the speed of other vehicles and where the driver is looking.
Managing the Blind Corner
A blind corner is a dangerous situation in all cases. But, it is not uncommon for the motorcyclist to be unable to maintain proper control. A simple patch of gravel or sand can cause the rider to skid and wipe out. The blind corner makes it impossible to notice the problem – giving the rider no warning of what is to come.
The best route to minimizing this risk is to simply take every blind corner as if it is a risk. To do this, slow down. Riders must never move faster than what his or her vision allows. When turning a truly blind corner, riders can minimize risks by taking the turn as wide as possible. Doing this expands the amount of vision had. Then, once around the corner, the rider can pick up speed to match traffic.
It is not uncommon for passenger vehicle drivers to fail to notice a motorcycle rider. This includes one stopped at a red light. When a vehicle hits a bike rider from behind, the rider has no ability to know what is happening. It can happen at an intersection or a stop sign. The worst risk occurs when the vehicles are moving. Being hit at full speed is the type of motorcycle crash that turns deadly fast.
When stopping, move up as close to or even next to another vehicle. Other drivers are likely to see the car and stop. This gives the motorcyclist more cushioning to avoid risks. If there is no other vehicle, riders can minimize some risk simply by moving to the side of the lane or road.
Unfortunately, even in this situation, riders need to be ready to move. To do this, it is important to be aware of what is happening. Riders who notice a vehicle is fast approaching must try to get out of the way. When stopped, pump the brakes to create a red, flashing light that is more noticeable. And, riders always have to be ready to move.
Vehicles Changing Lanes
Yet another risk motorcycle riders face has to do with the inability of other drivers to successfully change lanes when a bike rider is on the road with them. Every vehicle has blind spots. Recognize this. Anticipate the movements of the other drivers on the road. It is important to realize motorcycles fit into blind spots very easily.
To avoid risks, riders need to monitor the actions of all vehicles around them on the road. Notice turn signals indicating other drivers are switching lanes. Watch the movements of tires to notice if the cars are moving towards a new lane. It is also important to monitor the other drivers for distracted driving. A driver looking down is a sure sign he or she is on a phone.
Other Risks to Avoid
A fatal crash can happen for many reasons. The more prepared the rider is, the less risk he or she will face on the road. There are several ways to minimize risks beyond these.
#1: Monitor road conditions all of the time.
Wet and icy roadways are dangerous. When rain happens suddenly, riders need to be able to take fast action. Having good tires matters here. Notice things like potholes and manhole covers. These tend to be a higher risk when the roadways are wet.
#2: Drive sober.
Motorcycle riders are at a higher risk when they are under the influence. It is simple to avoid this. Do not drink or take any drugs before hitting the road.
#3: Monitor opening doors.
The space between parked cars and a non-moving line of cars is worrisome. The swing of the door can cause a deadly accident. Avoid moving through this area.
Being involved in a fatal motorcycle accident is unfortunate. If you do find yourself filing for a suit, it’s important to know the damages you may be able to claim in the video below.
In every situation, a motorcyclist has to be very aware of his or her surroundings. While you may follow each of these steps to be extra careful, accidents still happen from time to time. If you need a Sacramento motorcycle accident lawyer, call the Law Offices of Edward A. Smith at 916-921-6400 or 800-404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.
Do you have other unanswered questions about preventing fatal motorcycle accidents? Don’t hesitate to share them below.