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How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Motorcycle Accidents

motorcycle accident

There is something deeply iconic about the image of a motorcyclist getting on their bike and heading off into the sunset. From the Hells Angels to Evel Kineval, rebel motorcyclists throughout the years have captured the public imagination with their freewheeling ways. However, behind this thrilling image lies a more sombre truth: motorcycle accidents are more likely to prove fatal to the riders than any other motor vehicle.

Although safety equipment is improving year on year, motorcycles – by default – are inherently dangerous. As a result, motorcycle accidents continue to be a problem for traffic safety. A motorcycle accident is much more likely to cause serious injury than a regular vehicle accident. Understanding these basic implications is something every motorcycle rider must do when they acquire their license. 

motorcycle accident

Although motorcycle riding comes with inherent dangers, many accidents that occur can be avoided with proper forethought and precaution. The following list of common motorcycle accidents contains examples that are all avoidable.

The Left turn Accident

The first major cause of motorcycle accidents is the left turn accident.

A vehicle that makes a sudden left-hand turn in front of you as you are trying to pass. This common and highly dangerous accident accounts for 42% of all motorcycle-car accidents. 

Drivers are subconsciously looking out for larger vehicles and often miss the smaller motorcycle approaching. At the same time, motorcycles are harder to see than other vehicles and can get lost in the driver’s mirrors.

The usual scenario involves the motorcycle either going through an intersection, passing a car, or trying to overtake a car that is about to turn. It is an accident that also occurs frequently between cars but is much more dangerous when a motorcycle rider is involved.

Avoiding this accident is about anticipating the driver’s move. You should always be on the lookout for signals that a car is about to turn. Head movements looking left and right, gaps in the road, waiting at an intersection, all these could mean the car is ready to turn. When you do move to pass or overtake, give yourself room to maneuver in case the car turns unexpectedly. Try to make your presence known to the driver and make sure they are not distracted by something else. 

The Do’sThe Don’ts
Look out for the signs that a car is about to moveGive yourself plenty of roomAssume you can be seenOvertake at high speed

The Lane switching Accident

This accident occurs when you fall into a driver’s blind spot. Motorcycles can easily be obstructed by other vehicles in a car drivers mirror, making them think it is safe to pull out into your lane without giving you enough time to move. 

You should always be aware of the fact that you might be in a driver’s blind spot, if they begin to move unsafely, assume they have not seen you. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see the driver in their mirror. If you can see the driver’s mirrors they should be able to see you. Again, be vigilant to signs that a driver is about to change lanes. This can come in the form of turning signals, wheels turning, driver checking mirrors or swivelling their head.

The Do’sThe Don’ts
Find the drivers mirrorsAnticipate movementAssume you can be seen
Fall into a driver’s blind spot

The Head-On Collision Accident

Three-quarters of all fatal crashes involving a car and a motorcycle are caused by head-on crashes. These crashes are fatal for obvious reasons, and the number of advance warning signs they create are minimal. Instead, this is a case driving safely at all times. 

The so-called “Four R’s” recommendation is an instructional list to help avoid this deadly kind of accident.   

The 4 R’s

  1. Reduce your speed
  2. Ride off the road
  3. Read the road ahead
  4. Drive to the Right
  1. Bringing your speed down by 10 to 20 MPH can be the difference between life and death.’
  2. If you see something happening, ride your motorcycle as slowly as possible of the road and out of traffic. 
  3. By reading the road, we mean using the proactive and defensive tactics we mentioned earlier. Generally, this means scanning the road ahead of you for hazards. 
  4. Be in the right-hand lane, or outside lane whenever possible. This gives you a chance to avoid the oncoming vehicle by veering off the road.

The Lane Splitting Accident

We have all sat in traffic and watched in annoyance/admiration as a motorcyclist drives off at speed straight through the middle of it. Lane splitting as it is known is an illegal move and an easy one to avoid. Riding in the middle of two lanes of slow-moving traffic to escape congestion is asking for trouble. The close proximity of the vehicles and hard to predict the nature of their movement make this an inadvisable situation to put yourself in as a motorcycle rider. On top of that, it is illegal. 

Although we must insist on denigrating this behaviour, if you must do it, the same defensive driving measures apply. Look for any sudden movements, turn signals, or wheel turning, and give yourself as much room as possible.

The Do’sThe Don’ts
Ride defensivelyGive yourself roomSplit LanesSpeed

Intoxicated Rider accidents

Driving while intoxicated is the cause of 43% of all motorcycle accidents that involve just the rider. As we touched upon in the beginning, there is a rebelliousness that goes hand in hand with motorcycle riding. Couple this with an outlaw attitude, and the gang-style camaraderie that many riders enjoy, it’s no surprise that many riders take to the road with alcohol or drugs in their system. This is not the majority of riders by any means but it does account for a large group of accidents involving motorcycles. 

If you are on or close to the drinking limit it is not worth the risk. The sensory impairment that goes along with intoxication is the last thing you need when operating a motorcycle. As such, there is only one piece of advice worth giving: never drink and drive. Whatever adjustments you have to make, make them and keep the road safe.

The Do’sThe Don’ts
Get a cabRide while intoxicated

The Corner Turning Accident

motorcycle accident

Coming into a turn to fast, or hitting some material in the road while turning are both ways you can wipe out while turning corners on a motorcycle. Many drivers have misjudged a tight turn and left themselves no time to compensate. The result is an out of control motorbike liable to crash. At the same time, a driver could come across a patch of gravel,water, or ice that causes them to lose traction. 

Controlling your speed is the only way you can give yourself time to react in these situations. If the rider is going at a steady speed they may have time to compensate once they sense their bike getting away from them. As far as corners go, slow in ,fast out is the general rule of thumb for safety.

Learning How to Take a Turn

The road signs should also be a good indication of what the upcoming terrain holds in store, make sure you pay attention to any signage while riding. Hazardous materials such as gravel or sand tend to form in well worn pockets of the road, learn how to read the road at a slower speed before pushing it. 

If you do take a turn too quickly you should stay very calm and lean into the turn. Any drastic adjustments you attempt to make mid turn are likely to cause more damage then if you ride the turn out. Slamming on the brakes is also a bad idea as it often causes a loss of traction that will catapult you from your bike. Trusting your bike and leaning into the turn is the safest way to deal with the issue

The Do’sThe Don’ts
Lean into the turnStay CalmTrust your BikeSlam the breaksStraighten out
(Both these actions will make things far worse)

Motorcycles are inherently dangerous, but they’re also fun and liberating. There is no reason a person should not be able to ride a motorbike safely. The problem comes when riders routinely violate the traffic laws or try to run before they can walk so to speak. 

It should go without saying that you are obliged to wear all the appropriate safety gear including high visibility clothing. Ride at a safe speed and follow the law of the road. At the same time, don’t assume your safety. You should be extra vigilant for reckless drivers who turn without seeing you. For more interesting reading on motorcycle safety and danger, the Hurt Report is an extensive study with a breakdown of all the major dangers of road riding. 

If you have any questions or comments concerning motorcycle safety, please leave them below. Feel free to contact us here at Accidents.Law