Most Common Causes for Motorcycle Accidents

Jan 20, 2021

What Is the Most Common Cause of a Motorcycle Accident?

There’s an inescapable complicating factor in nearly every motorcycle injury case – the biases people have against riders. Many drivers associate motorcycle riding with reckless behavior, so they consciously or subconsciously assume that the rider is likely responsible for an accident between a car and a motorcycle. There’s evidence to suggest that, more often than not, motorcycle operators aren’t to blame in multi-vehicle accidents. Experts analyzing Florida Department of Transportation data determined that four-wheeled motor vehicle drivers are more likely to be at fault in multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles. That doesn’t mean riders are never at fault. In approximately half of all motorcycle crashes that resulted in severe injury or death, there were no cars involved. These single-vehicle accidents, about 34 percent of all motorcycle accidents, tend to occur more frequently among motorcycle riders. Although riding may be more precarious – car drivers don’t have to worry about wiping out if they take a turn too fast – most safe riders have learned, by necessity, to be more cautious than drivers.

When Was the Last Time You Saw a Motorcyclist Texting While Riding?

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car and truck accidents right now. Injuries can result when a texter rear-ends a car or truck driver in front of them, even at low speeds. If the same texter rear-ended a motorcyclist at the same speed, the accident could easily become a fatality. One of the arguments riding advocates use in defense of lane splitting is the high risk for rear-end accidents in congested traffic. When a motorcyclist is between two cars at a stoplight, there’s a much lower risk that they’ll be rear-ended by an inattentive driver coming up behind them.

Left Turns Are a Leading Cause of Motorcycle Crashes

Car, truck, and SUV drivers tend to be better at judging oncoming car speeds than motorcycle speeds. This can result in drivers making left turns in front of oncoming motorcyclists who don’t have time to stop or evade. Recent estimates suggest 42 percent, nearly half, of all two-vehicle motorcycle fatality crashes are these types of left-turn accidents. People viewing the aftermath of a left-turn accident involving a motorcycle might assume the rider was at fault, but first impressions can be shaded by biases or incomplete information. If a driver attempts to turn left in front of an oncoming car that’s just seconds away, the left-turn driver will likely be at fault. The oncoming vehicle had the right of way. There are scenarios where a motorcyclist may be going over the speed limit when a left-turn accident occurs, but even then, the car driver likely wouldn’t be entirely free of liability. Drivers may attempt to use a contributory negligence defense, arguing they weren’t entirely to blame due to the speed of the oncoming motorcyclists. However, the rider would still likely recover most of a jury verdict.

Other Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Low visibility combined with a driver’s failure to check their blind spots adequately can result in cars or trucks merging into a motorcyclist’s lane, which may cause a crash or drive the rider off the road. Rear-end accidents in congested traffic or at stoplights are also a relatively common cause of motorcyclist injuries. Stop-and-go traffic is frequently a contributing factor in rear-end collisions. When it’s one car hitting another car at relatively low rates of speed, the damage and injuries usually aren’t all that serious. Still, these types of accidents can turn out much differently if a passenger vehicle or truck hits a motorcycle.

Alcohol and Rider Error

About 28 percent of riders killed in motorcycle accidents have a BAC of .08 or higher, with another seven percent having a BAC between .01 and .07. Most of these riders are 40 to 44 (38 percent), 45 to 49 (38 percent) or 35 to 39 (32 percent). Roughly 29 percent of riders killed in motorcycle accidents aren’t properly licensed to be riding, which means they likely have not undergone much if any, safety training or have much experience with accident-avoidance techniques. In more than half of all fatal motorcycle accidents, the rider or driver is at fault for the crash. The most common error made by riders in these types of accidents is to:

  • Lose control while navigating a curve
  • Run off the road and hit a guardrail or other object
  • Overcorrect when steering to avoid an object or surface on the roadway
  • Follow too closely (tailgating)
  • Drive at an excessive speed

Take Care and Ride Safely

The causes of motorcycle accidents are varied and complex. That said, the best way to avoid them is to practice safe riding and defensive driving at all times. Some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of an accident include the following:

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet: Motorcycle helmets are designed to protect your head and neck in the event of a crash. Wearing one could save your life.
  • Ride defensively: Always be aware of what other drivers are doing, stay out of their blind spots, and anticipate unexpected moves or errors.
  • Avoid riding after drinking alcohol: Impairment from alcohol will slow your reaction time and reduce your ability to make quick decisions in a crisis.
  • Check your motorcycle before each ride: Make sure all lights, brakes, and other systems are in good working order.
  • Stick to the speed limit: Excessive speed is one of the leading causes of serious accidents.
  • Consider taking a motorcycle safety course: A safety or defensive driving course may teach you the skills you need to remain safe on the road.

These steps can go a long way toward keeping you safe while riding your motorcycle, but there are no guarantees. Always be aware of your surroundings and drive defensively at all times to minimize your risk of a motorcycle crash. When traveling in congested areas, be aware of the risks posed by distracted driving, and use lane splitting or other defensive tactics to reduce your risk. Above all else, never ride faster than you can safely handle – it could save your life.

There’s No Simple Answer to Many Georgia Motorcycle Accidents

Auto accidents of all types can be complicated. It’s often left to law enforcement, insurance companies, and attorneys to piece together what really happened in an accident and make a case for who is responsible, or mostly responsible, for the injuries and deaths that resulted. Motorcycle accident cases can be particularly complex given the number of variables and pre-existing biases against riders. Suppose you’re dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident. In that case, whether you are riding or a passenger, it’s important to make sure both the legal and insurance issues are properly addressed.

Have an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer on Your Side

If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Atlanta or anywhere in Georgia, the attorneys at the Dressie Law Firm are ready to help. We have extensive experience representing clients in all types of complicated injury cases, and we won’t stop investigating until the facts of your case are as clear as possible. Call us at 678-909-1639 to request a free, no-obligation consultation.