Millions of vehicles are on the road every day, and whether the people behind the wheel are commuting to and from work, transporting goods, or taking vacations, their abundance on major thoroughfares can turn roads into a dangerous place.
With all these drivers on the road, the chances of accidents occurring greatly increase. In 2015 alone, there were 6.4 million accidents in the United States, all of which resulted in injury, property damage, and death.
The human body cannot withstand the intense impact of any accident, so when a person is involved in one, the results are often severe and fatal. But no two accidents are the same, and while both car and motorcycle crashes can be life-threatening, they differ in more ways than one.
How do motorcycle accidents differ from car accidents?
No accident is ever good, but some accidents can be more dangerous than others. Between a motorcycle accident and a car accident, the former is proven to be more fatal.
Cars today are more advanced as far as safety features are concerned, and they are specifically designed to prevent accidents and reduce fatalities on the road. Some of these features that newer cars are equipped with are anti-lock brakes, extensive airbag systems, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitors, collision warning systems, rear and side-view cameras, and pedestrian detection systems.
Motorcycles lack these modern safety features. A motorcycle rider does not even have the basic protection seatbelts and airbags can offer. The only thing a rider can do to protect himself on the road is to wear a helmet and protective gear, but even that cannot completely guarantee safety.
Stability is not a common issue for car drivers, but a common cause for concern of motorcycle riders. Riding a small, two-wheel vehicle requires a great deal of balance. But even the most skilled riders are not safe from harm, especially when external factors cause the motorcycle to get off balance.
You would be thankful for the helmet in the unfortunate event that you lose the balance of your vehicle. It may not give 100% protection, but a helmet can significantly lessen the impact when your head hits the ground.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in states without universal helmet laws, 57% of motorcycle riders killed in accidents were not wearing a helmet during the crash. However, in states with universal helmet laws, only 8% of motorcycle riders killed were not wearing a helmet.
The NHTSA estimated that in 2017, about 2,000 motorcycle riders would still be alive had they worn helmets.
Vulnerability on the road
Given their size, lack of safety features, and exposure due to lack of protection from not being enclosed and shielded by metal, motorcycles are undeniably one of the most unsafe modes of transport. Yet many people still opt to use them despite the inherent dangers that might happen every time they are on the road.
Aside from being vulnerable, motorcycle riders also face other major risks as opposed to car drivers, like limited visibility to other vehicles and road hazards such as debris, rocks, and slippery pavements. These may be minor dangers for drivers of four-wheeled vehicles, but such hazards can be fatal for motorcycle riders.
Motorcycle accidents by the numbers
• The number of riders who die from motorcycle accidents is 30 times higher than the number of fatalities from car accidents.
• Riders over the age of 40 are 20 times more likely to be injured in a motorcycle accident than car drivers of the same age.
• Riders under the age of 40 are 36 times more likely to be fatally injured in a motorcycle accident than card drivers of the same age.
• Motorcycles are estimated to represent 2% of registered vehicles in the US, but approximately 5% of all road deaths.
• Only 13 out of 100,000 car drivers are involved in a deadly car crash in the US every year, but 72 out of 100,000 riders are involved in fatal motorcycle accidents.
• Motorcycle riders involved in an accident have a 98% chance of suffering serious injuries. They are also five times more likely to be hurt and 26 times more likely to die in an accident than car drivers and passengers.
• There are about nine million registered motorcycles in the US—which is only 3% of all registered vehicles—yet they account for 14% of road-related injuries and deaths.
• Motorcycle riders who were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident are likely to be involved in a fatal crash that can result in long-term injuries or death.
• Motorcycle riders have a risk of a fatal accident 35 times higher than car drivers for every mile traveled.
Car accidents by the numbers
• The US Department of Transportation estimates that the average car driver will be involved in some type of accident every 6 years and have a close call at least once or twice a month.
• In 2005, there were 39,189 car accident fatalities in the US. Included in this number were 27,472 drivers and 10,036 passengers who were seriously injured.
• There are about two million cases of injuries from car accidents every year that result in long-term disabilities.
• As many as 75% of car accident victims still have symptoms for at least 6 months after the crash.
• An estimated 28% of passengers involved in car accidents suffer minor to moderate injuries, while about 6% sustain severe or fatal injuries.
• Nearly 2.6 million people in cars, both drivers and passengers, are injured in road-related accidents every year. This accounts for 95% of all crashes that cause serious, long-lasting injuries.
• Of all the people killed in car accidents annually, about 55% of them were not wearing seat belts at the time of crash while 28% of the fatalities resulted from being ejected from the vehicle upon collision.
Road safety tips
Whether it is a car or a motorcycle involved, accidents are likely to happen every day. And while there is no sure way to stop them from happening, there are certain measures that can help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that result from these unfortunate events.
Wear bright and reflective clothing
Because of its size, a motorcycle is often not seen by other drivers until it is too late. To avoid this, riders should wear bright colors and reflective clothing so they can be easily visible on the road.
Motorcycle riders should also try to avoid riding at night as much as possible because it is more difficult for other drivers to see them, therefore increasing the risk of an accident.
Use a helmet
Wear a helmet that fits properly; not too tight but not too loose on your head either. Head injuries are the leading cause of death among motorcycle riders, and while helmets do not completely prevent injury, they can still give your head some protection.
In addition to this, your get-up will not be complete without proper headgear, so you should always wear a helmet on every ride. If your helmet does not have a face shield, consider wearing protective goggles instead.
Suit up with leather
You should also take into consideration the material from which your gear is made, and leather is one of the best materials for motorcycle gears.
Because of its thickness, leather can help protect you from sliding across concrete and other road hazards. Leather motorcycle boots are also great in protecting your feet, not only from the asphalt in the event of a crash but also from the heat of the engine.
Forget your ego
Leave your ego at home and only drive within your skill level. Never attempt to travel at high speeds or weave in and out of traffic if you are not capable.
Have enough room
While motorcycles are small and may take less space, they actually need more room than you might think. When you are in transit or about to stop at a traffic light, leave a generous distance between yourself and the vehicles both in front and at the back of your motorcycle.
Do not get distracted
Try to avoid being distracted on the road as much as possible. Distracted driving is already bad enough as it is on a regular car, but it is even worse when you are balancing a two-wheel, heavy piece of steel under you. If you are on your phone or any gadget and driving at the same time, you are essentially cutting your reaction time to road hazards, making accidents more likely.
Be conscious of your surroundings
Never assume that other drivers on the road can see you, so always ride on high alert and be responsible for staying safe around cars.
Monitor the weather
Two wheels give you half the traction of the car and since motorcycles are significantly less stable than other vehicles, riding in the rain can be more dangerous. Aside from this, the absence of windshield wipers will also compromise your visibility.