Riding motorcycles is becoming a highly sought-after form of transportation across the United States, both for commuting and recreation and it’s easy to see why. Not only does this thrilling mode of transport offer an exciting way to get around quickly, but also exposes riders to unique experiences with every journey they take.
Unfortunately, this popularity, if not properly regulated, can lead to an increase in motorcycle crashes. And these crashes have recorded a high number of fatal accidents through the years. That’s why it’s important to take a deep look at the factors that lead to motorcycle accidents so that we can better protect ourselves and others out on the roads.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released data showing the devastating consequences that can occur from motorcycle crashes.
A shocking 5,579 motorcyclist fatalities were reported by the NHTSA in 2020 alone. This figure accounts for 14% of all traffic-related deaths and is the most significant motorcycle rider deaths since 1975. The NHTSA has also reported that motorcycle fatalities are 28% higher than the number of deaths among occupants in passenger vehicles.
Particularly in Florida, the 2020 data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), showed that 1,104 motorcycle fatalities occurred in the state—the highest death rate since 2010 with a fatality-per-mileage ratio of 1.60%. This is 19.8% of the total number of motorcycle fatalities in the country. Truly, an alarming statistic.
Leading causes of motorcycle accidents
Knowing the most common causes of motorcycle accidents can help us to better prepare ourselves and others while out on the roads.
1. Motorcycle Driver Error
The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is driver error, and it includes the following:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) – DUI is a common cause of motorcycle crashes. Drinking alcohol or using drugs while driving can impair judgment and motor skills, leading to bad decisions on the road that can have dire consequences.
- Inexperienced Rider – Inexperienced riders lack the necessary experience and knowledge about how to handle a motorcycle in critical situations and thus are more likely to be the cause of an accident.
- Mental and physical fatigue – A tired rider is more likely to make mistakes on the road and is more prone to not paying attention.
- Inattention – Distracted driving is a major contributor to motorcycle crashes. Any activity that takes your focus away from the road can be dangerous, including using cell phones, eating, or even adjusting the radio.
- Mechanical malfunctions – Mechanical problems can cause the motorcycle to malfunction, leading to an accident. Poorly maintained brakes, tires, and other components of the vehicle can cause a rider to lose control and crash.
- Speeding – Speeding is often seen as an exciting way to ride a motorcycle, but it can be extremely dangerous. Going too fast reduces the amount of time and distance that a rider has to react to unexpected changes in the road environment.
- Reckless driving – Reckless driving includes weaving in and out of traffic, sudden lane changes, or passing other vehicles. It can leave riders vulnerable to the unexpected and cause them to overreact or lose control of their vehicle.
- Rider’s age – Ages ranging from 25-29 are most likely to be involved in a motorcycle crash, followed by ages 30-34. It is also important to note that riders with ages 50 and above account for 36% of motorcycle fatalities due to their lesser reaction speed and physical agility.
- Antilock brake systems (ABS) – Without antilock brake systems, riders may lock their brakes and lose control of the motorcycle. ABS can help prevent this from happening by keeping the wheels from locking up in emergency situations.
2. Other motorists on the road
Other vehicles also play a role in many motorcycle accidents which can be seen in scenarios such as:
- Miscalculation – They misjudge a motorcycle’s speed and distance from them, making it difficult for the rider to avoid an accident.
- Driving carelessly – Motorists who drive carelessly or while distracted often don’t pay attention to their surroundings and may not see a motorcycle on the road.
- Aggressive driving – driving aggressively in traffic, failing to yield right-of-way, tailgating, changing lanes without looking, turning in front of riders at intersections, and not allowing enough following distance can all increase the probability of an accident.
3. Road hazards
Road hazards also play a role in many motorcycle crashes and can include:
- Poor visibility – Poor visibility caused by a lack of streetlights, bad weather conditions like rain or fog, or overgrown vegetation can make it difficult for riders to see potential hazards on the road.
- Uneven surfaces – Potholes, gravel, oil slicks, puddles, and other uneven surfaces can cause a motorcycle to lose traction, resulting in the rider losing control.
- Poor road designs – Poorly designed roads that lack guardrails or have sharp turns can make it difficult for riders to navigate their way safely.
- Lane splitting – Lane splitting is when a motorcycle passes between two lanes of slow or stopped traffic. This increases the risk of the rider being struck by other vehicles that may not be paying attention, and can also confuse other drivers on the road.
- Animals crossing – Animals crossing the road can also be a hazard, particularly on rural roads where wildlife is more prevalent.
- Structural defects – Structural defects like crumbling or broken pavement can cause a rider to lose control of their motorcycle and crash.
- Traffic situation – Traffic congestion during rush hour or holiday and weekends can lead to more aggressive driving habits which increases the chances of a crash occurring.
3. Weather conditions and Seasons
Weather conditions play a role in many motorcycle accidents. Rain and other wet conditions can decrease traction and make it difficult for riders to control their motorcycles. Snow, ice, or hail can cause skidding, particularly on roadways that have not been properly maintained. Heat waves can also lead to dehydration among riders who are exposed to the sun for long periods, leading to fatigue and loss of concentration.
Where many motorcycle accidents happen
According to 2020 NHTSA Traffic Safety Data, fatal motorcycle crashes occurred more often on urban roads, accounting for 61% of all crashes. Non-intersections were the most common site for a crash, accounting for 65% of all crashes. The majority of these crashes happened in clear/cloudy weather in daylight.
Urban areas contain higher volume of vehicles and because of this, motorcycle accidents occur here more often. However, it is also worth noting that rural roads can also be riskier due to their narrower and winding paths, as well as minimal visibility.
Non-intersections, such as curves and hills, can be particularly dangerous due to the increased risk of losing control. Intersections, on the other hand are also a common site for motorcycle accidents. Due to the size of motorcycles, they can be difficult to spot when cars are making turns or merging lanes. The lack of visibility combined with higher speeds and sharp turns makes these intersections particularly hazardous for riders.
Accidents in clear weather and during the day are more common due to the higher volume of riders and drivers on the road. The increased visibility and dry roads can lead to higher speeds and more aggressive driving, increasing the chances of accidents. While night-time and bad weather can also be dangerous for riders due to decreased visibility and traction.
Ultimately, the risk factors associated with motorcycle accidents often depend on the individual rider and their environment. All of these can contribute to an increased possibility of an accident. Riders need to be aware of their surroundings and take the necessary precautions to stay safe.
Accident Prevention Tips
Motorcycle riders can take steps to reduce their risk of being involved in an accident by following these safety tips:
• Wear the right gear – Helmets, gloves, boots, and other protective gear can help protect riders in case of a crash.
• Follow traffic rules – Obey speed limits, always check your mirrors and use turn signals when changing lanes or turning.
• Keep a safe distance – Maintain at least three seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
• Be aware of your surroundings – Always check for other vehicles, animals, or debris on the road before making any maneuvers.
• Make sure your motorcycle is well maintained – Check your brakes, fluids, tires, and other components regularly to ensure your motorcycle is in good condition.
• Take a safety course – Attending a motorcycle safety course can help riders become more aware of the potential hazards associated with riding.
What to do after a motorcycle accident?
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself and your rights.
• Call 911 – Emergency services should be contacted immediately following the crash.
• Seek medical attention – Even if you don’t think you are injured, it is important to visit a doctor or hospital right away.
• Document the scene of the accident – Take photos of the vehicles, debris, and any other relevant details.
• Obtain contact information – Get the contact information of all involved parties including witnesses.
• Contact an attorney – An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure your rights are protected.
How personal injury attorneys can help you
A personal injury attorney can provide valuable assistance after a motorcycle accident. Your lawyer can help you by:
• Collecting evidence – Gather and analyze relevant evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photos of the scene, and medical records.
• Negotiating with insurance companies – Working with your lawyer can give you an advantage when negotiating with insurance companies.
• Representing you in court – Your attorney can represent you in court, if necessary, to protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Having an experienced personal injury attorney by your side after a motorcycle accident can be invaluable. Your lawyer will work hard to ensure that you receive the compensation you need.
Motorcycle riding comes with unique risks that can lead to deadly slashes. While not every motorcycle crash can be prevented, knowing which factors lead to more motorcycle crashes than the others can help riders and passengers make informed decisions to stay safe. However, even those who take all necessary precautions may still find themselves in an accident, and sometimes these accidents might not even be their fault. If you find yourself involved in a situation like this, it is best to seek the advice of qualified legal representation from the Jared Spingarn law firm to ensure that you get what you deserve in your settlement for medical bills and any other damages related to your injury.
>> If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident in Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jared Spingarn, Accident Attorney, at 1-954-781-2316 for a Free Case Review or drop a message on their Contact Us page.