Motorcycle Accidents Differ from Car Accidents in Many Ways
The open road is a dangerous place. At any given moment, there are 218 million cars, large trucks, and motorcycles traveling on the road, according to IHS Automotive. These drivers are commuting to and from work, transporting goods, and taking vacations.
Unfortunately, all of these drivers on the road means a greater chance of getting into an accident. In 2015 alone, there were 6.4 million accidents in the United States, resulting in injury, property damage, or death.
No one is immune to being injured in an accident. Even drivers of large semi-trucks can be seriously or fatally injured in crashes, even though they are driving some of the largest vehicles on the road.
Motorcyclists can also suffer serious injuries in an accident, due to the lack of protection. Unlike car and truck drivers, motorcyclists are not protected by reinforced steel cages, airbags, and seatbelts. As such, when an accident occurs, there is little protecting them from the hard pavement below.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 89,000 motorcyclists were injured, and 5,172 were killed in 2017 alone. Per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to be killed in a traffic crash than passenger car occupants. They account for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.
If you or someone you love is injured in a motorcycle accident, you need a trusted personal injury law firm on your side from the beginning.
Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous Than Cars?
Today’s cars are equipped with various safety features that have been designed to reduce the number of fatalities on the road. Newer cars have anti-lock brakes, extensive airbag systems, seatbelts, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitors, and collision warning systems. They have backup cameras and side-view cameras, and many are equipped with pedestrian detection systems.
Motorcycles, on the other hand, do not have many of these safety features. There are no seatbelts or airbags to protect you during a crash. And there is no steel cage keeping you safe from harm. Instead, motorcyclists must rely on helmets and protective riding suits to keep them safe.
One of the best ways to prevent injury is to wear a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. In states without universal helmet laws, 57 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents were not wearing a helmet at the time of a crash. In states with universal helmet laws, just 8 percent of motorcyclists killed were not wearing a helmet. The NHTSA estimates that 1,872 motorcyclists would still be alive in 2017 had they worn helmets.
Yet, helmets can’t protect every motorcyclist from suffering injury. Serious fractures, burns, and internal organ damage can occur when motorcyclists are thrown off their bikes during a collision.
Reduce the Risk of Injury in a Motorcycle Accident
There are ways motorcyclists can reduce the risk of being seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Some of these include, but are not limited to:
- Wear a DOT-approved helmet at all times
- Perform regular maintenance on your motorcycle
- Wear bright or reflective clothing at all times
- Wear Kevlar or leather suit when riding to protect against road rash
- Wear motorcycle boots or leather closed-toe shoes
- Wear eye protection, such as goggles
Common Causes of Accidents
Common Causes of Car Accidents
A car accident can occur at any time and to anyone. There are numerous causes of car accidents, including:
- Distracted driving – According to the NSC, 25 percent of all car accidents are related to distracted driving. Distracted driving includes using a cell phone, texting and driving, and even interacting with passengers.
- Driver fatigue – the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 328,000 accidents are caused by fatigued drivers. This is more than three times the number of accidents that are actually reported.
- Alcohol use – An astonishing 28 percent of all car accident fatalities are caused by drunk drivers. Even worse, 17 percent of all traffic deaths among children under the age of 14 involved a drunk driver.
- Speeding – Excessive speed is a contributing factor in more than 30 percent of all fatal car accidents. In 2017, nearly 10,000 people lost their lives in speeding-related car crashes.
- Aggressive driving – The NHTSA reports that more than 11,000 people are killed every single year because of aggressive drivers. Aggressive driving behavior includes speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and tailgating.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Unlike car accidents, motorcycle accidents are often caused by other drivers failing to recognize the motorcyclist on the road. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Cars making left-hand turns – This is the number one cause of motorcycle accidents, and a shocking 42 percent of all motorcycle accidents involve a car driver turning left into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist.
- Alcohol use – In 2016, 25 percent of all motorcycle fatalities were caused by a drunk motorcyclist or drunk driver. An intoxicated driver may be less likely to recognize an oncoming motorcyclist or may even not see a motorcyclist at an intersection. The results can be deadly.
- Speeding – Approximately half of all single motorcycle accidents involve either excessive speed or alcohol use.
- Collision with fixed objects – Motorcyclists are at an increased risk of suffering fatal injuries when they collide with a fixed object. Hitting a fixed object, such as a tree or light pole, accounts for 25 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents. In comparison, hitting a fixed object in a car accounts for only 18 percent of all fatal crashes.
Tips for Avoiding a Serious Motorcycle Accident
Unfortunately, motorcyclists cannot avoid every accident. However, there are some ways a motorcyclist can reduce the risk of getting into a serious accident. Some of those include, but are not limited to:
- Keep your tires inflated properly
- Avoid riding in inclement weather
- Always obey the speed limit
- Never tailgate or ride in-between traffic
- Never drive drunk
- Never drive under the influence of drugs
- Avoid riding when fatigued
- Never ride in a vehicle’s blind spot
- Use extra caution when riding through intersections
- Ride defensively and be aware of other drivers at all times
Motorcycle Injuries and Fatalities
According to the NHTSA, 13 car drivers out of every 100,000 are involved in a fatal collision. In comparison, motorcyclists have a fatality rate of 72 out of 100,000. This is a significant increase in risk.
As you can see, motorcyclists suffer far more serious injuries than car drivers and occupants. A human body is not made to withstand the severe forces of a car accident. When a motorcyclist is involved in a car accident, they are often thrown from their bikes and into other objects, vehicles, and even into oncoming traffic. The results are often catastrophic and deadly.
Statistics show that motorcyclists that are involved in an accident have a 98 percent chance of suffering injury. They’re also 26 times more likely to die in an accident than passenger vehicle occupants, and they are five times more likely to be hurt.
Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Back injuries
- Severe fractures
- Crushing injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Road rash
- Biker’s arm, where nerves are permanently damaged
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident because of another person’s negligence, you may have cause to file a claim. Motorcyclists often suffer horrific and deadly injuries in a crash. As such, they need an experienced motorcycle accident law firm fighting for them after a crash.