Over the years, several reports and studies have proven that motorcycles are a dangerous form of transportation. But despite the risks, riding a motorcycle remains a popular leisure activity and convenient mode of transport for many people.
While motorcycle riders are more likely to be involved in fatal road mishaps, several measures can ensure safety during the ride. And for these measures to be effective, you need to know what causes motorcycle accidents.
The most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
• Riding while under the influence of alcohol
• Sudden turns and lane changes
• Reckless driving
• Lane splitting
Shorter travel time, high-speed performance, flexibility, and low cost are the most common reasons many people choose motorcycles as their primary mode of transport. However, the fatality rate among motorcycle riders remains significantly higher than that of vehicle drivers.
In the 2016 report of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 33% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents were speeding. This is significantly higher than the percentage of car drivers, 19%, light truck drivers at 15%, and significant truck drivers at 7%.
Riding while under the influence of alcohol
Because of the extreme physical and mental coordination needed to ride a motorcycle, you would think that riders will always have the common sense to not ride after drinking. This is not the case because riding while intoxicated remains a common cause of motorcycle accidents.
Not only does it make you criminally liable, but you are also putting yourself and other motorists in grave danger. In 2016, the NHTSA reported that motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents had a higher percentage of alcohol-related impairment than any other type of vehicle driver.
The NHTSA also said that out of all the motorcycle riders who died in road-related accidents in the same year, 25% of them were found to have exceeded the blood alcohol content limit of 0.08%.
Sudden turns and lane changes
Car drivers often make errors in judgment when making turns. There are times when they miscalculate the distance of another vehicle from them, and with motorcycles being smaller than most vehicles, they are even less visible to car drivers.
In addition to this, cars quickly changing lanes can also put motorcycle riders in danger. There are many instances where car drivers switch lanes without checking their blind spots first, and since motorcycles move fast, it might be too late by the time car drivers acknowledge their presence.
In 2016 and 2017, more than 35% of motorcycle accidents were caused by reckless driving. Such negligence can come in many different forms, such as texting while driving, not observing speed limits, failing to pay attention to the road ahead, and being inexperienced.
Inexperienced drivers can cause more damage than one would initially think. Another report from NHTSA stated that in 2016, 27% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes did not have a valid license.
However, you have no way of knowing this when you are on the road, so the best course of action is always to assume that behind every wheel is an inexperienced driver.
Riding between two unmoving or slow traffic lanes is illegal in most states. But even though some states do not explicitly prohibit it, common sense should tell that lane splitting is usually a bad idea.
Motorcycles are smaller and more flexible, giving riders the ability to weave in and out of traffic jams by riding between cars. However, one wrong move can put both motorcycle riders and car drivers in extreme jeopardy.
As a result, lane splitting causes numerous accidents because of a motorcycle’s proximity to other vehicles. With the limited space, maneuvering around cars becomes more complex, and since lane splitting is illegal in many states, car drivers do not expect motorcycles to be riding next to them.
Motorcycle accident statistics
• Motorcycles are involved in 11% of all road accidents in the United States.
• Frontal collisions account for 74% of motorcycle accidents in the United States.
• Car and motorcycle accidents combined are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Half of the new spinal cord injuries every year are a result of these road mishaps.
• About 80% of reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death.
• Injuries are sustained in 90% of motorcycle accidents that involved riders who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This is significantly higher than the 33% of car accidents that involved high and drunk drivers.
Motorcycle accident fatalities in previous years
Fatalities are more common in motorcycle accidents than in any other road incident. But even if you do not get killed in a motorcycle accident, the chances of you sustaining fatal injuries that could lead to permanent disability are very high.
• In 2018, motorcycle accidents killed 4,985 motorcycle riders in the United States.
• In 2017, motorcycle riders were 27 times more likely than car drivers and passengers to die in motorcycle-related accidents per mile traveled.
• Mississippi has the most fatal motorcycle accidents, followed by Texas and South Carolina.
• Severe traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
• Motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States, but they account for 14% of all road-related fatalities.
• Riders over the age of 40 make up a considerable percentage of motorcycle accident deaths in the United States.
• In 2017, 91% of riders who died in motorcycle accidents were male.
• The death rate of riders using supersport motorcycles is four times higher than that of regular motorcycle riders.
Statistics of the causes of motorcycle accidents
• Sudden turns are responsible for about 40% of motorcycle accident deaths every year.
• In 2018, 28% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved drunk drivers.
• In 2017, 34% of motorcycle accidents were caused by speeding.
• Because riding is perfect when it is sunny and bright, states with warmer weather continue to see high numbers of motorcycle-related deaths every year.
• 61% of deaths from motorcycle accidents occur in urban areas.
• In rural areas, 24% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved drivers who are under the influence of alcohol.
Statistics of motorcycle accident safety precautions
Helmets, motorcycle jackets, and armored boots are just some of the protective gear proven to be effective in reducing injuries in motorcycle accidents. Just because riding a motorcycle comes with dangerous caveats does not mean you cannot lessen your chances of being fatally injured.
• Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of severe head injuries by 69%.
• In states with universal helmet laws, riders involved in motorcycle accidents have fewer rates of head injuries.
• Out of all the states in the US, helmet use for all riders is mandatory in only 19 states and the District of Columbia.
• About one billion dollars in economic costs could be saved by the government if wearing helmets is mandatory in the whole country.
• The risk of feet and ankle injuries is reduced by 90% by wearing armored motorcycle boots.
• Riders using motorcycles equipped with anti-lock brakes are 31% less likely to be involved in fatal motorcycle accidents than riders who use motorcycles without this safety feature.