With summer finally here, more and more motorcycle enthusiasts will be taking to the open road. Cruising around, the wind in your hair, and the sun on your face can be an awful lot of fun; however, it can also be dangerous. The government reported that per mile traveled in 2006 there were approximately 45 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than car accidents (Michon, n.d.). That’s a pretty shocking statistic. Let’s dive into some common causes of motorcycle accidents and how you can protect yourself.
Cars Turning Left
Believe it or not, the largest number of collisions between a car and a motorcycle occur when the car is making a left-hand turn: collisions of this nature account for 42% of all motorcycle-car accidents (Michon, n.d). Factors that contribute to these collisions include the fact that motorcycles are less visible than other vehicles so many motorists simply don’t see them and the fact that motorcycles can fit into spaces where another car couldn’t so motorists don’t think to look for them.
To protect yourself from this type of motorcycle accident, be aware of cars turning left. Don’t try to pass them; instead, wait until after the car has turned to move on. Furthermore, wear a piece of brightly colored clothing or put something bright on your bike to increase visibility.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting
When a motorcycle drives between two lanes of traffic, whether that traffic is moving or stopped, there is a higher risk for accidents. This act, known as lane splitting, causes accidents because of (Michon, n.d.):
- The motorcycle’s close proximity to vehicles.
- The limited space the motorcycle has in which to maneuver.
- The lack of visibility – again, many drivers simple don’t see motorcycles. In traffic jams or slow moving traffic, motorists don’t expect anyone to be whizzing by them so they often don’t think to check for motorcyclists.
To protect yourself from this type of motorcycle accident, avoid lane splitting. Traffic isn’t fun but neither is an accident.
Speeding or Alcohol Use
Approximately 50% of the accidents that involve just a single motorcycle are the result of speeding or alcohol use. These are also predominate factors in car crashes. Unfortunately, because motorcyclists often have so little protective equipment, the results of a motorcycle accident can be much more serious.
Protecting yourself from this type of accident is a bit of a no-brainer. Don’t speed and don’t drink and drive. This goes for motorcycles and cars!
Collisions with Fixed Objects
25% of motorcycle accident fatalities can be attributed to a motorcyclist colliding with a fixed object such as a tree (Michon, n.d.). This type of collision may be caused by several factors such as speeding, loss of control, bad weather, and road hazards. Again, as mentioned above, because motorcyclists don’t have the same amount of protection as the driver of a car, these crashes tend to be much more serious.
To protect yourself from this type of accident:
- Obey all traffic laws.
- Be observant – always be on the lookout for road hazards like debris or an animal crossing the road.
- Ensure your bike is in good working order.
- Try not to drive in bad weather.
- When you’re newer to the realm of motorcycles stick to “easier”roads such as those without hairpin turns.
- Always wear safety equipment such as a helmet.