Driving a motorcycle in America appears to be getting safer, but 2018 still saw almost 5,000 people lose their lives as a result of a motorcycle accident.
While that might be a five percent improvement from 2017, motorcycle safety is still paramount, and every rider should know the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. You can’t avoid something if you don’t know what that something is.
Five Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Driving a motorbike makes you smaller, harder to see, and more vulnerable than other motorists. So let’s take a closer look at the five most common causes of motorcycle accidents, and how to avoid them.
1. Left Turning Cars
Vehicles making a left turn and turning straight into the path of an oncoming motorcycle they haven’t noticed is perhaps the single biggest threat faced by motorcyclists. Left turning cars account for almost half of all fatal motorcycle accidents.
The motorcyclist’s best protection against left-turning vehicles is observation and vigilance. Always watch to see what other cars might be doing. If a car is slowing down, while approaching an intersection it is a good sign that it is likely to turn. Look to see if the driver is indicating. To be safe, always slow down and never try to overtake at intersections.
2. Vehicles Changing Lanes
The bigger the vehicle the bigger the blind-spot, but all vehicles have them. As a motorcyclist, you are harder to see anyway, so as a driver changes lanes motorcyclists are at an increased chance of falling into these blind-spots and being hit by the vehicle.
Motorcyclists should always be aware of blind-spots and avoid riding in them at all times. You can also improve your visibility with high-visibility closing and using your lights to help ensure drivers know that you’re there.
3. Lane Splitting
One of the advantages of riding a motorbike is that it fits into spaces that cars and other larger vehicles don’t. Driving between lanes of slow-moving or stationary traffic is known as ‘lane splitting’.
The danger of lane splitting is that drivers don’t necessarily expect motorcycles to be driving down the aisle between cars, so they won’t always be looking out for riders when moving within the lanes. Lane splitting does save time, but be incredibly mindful that drivers won’t be looking out for you.
Operating any vehicle at excessive speeds puts the driver at an increased risk. The motorcyclists, perhaps more so than others. Exceeding speed limits puts you at risks in a number of ways:
- Increased chance of losing control
- Takes longer to stop
- More susceptible to poor road or weather conditions
- More chance of an accident being severe
Always observe speed limits, and be sure to adjust your speed according to weather, road, and traffic conditions.
5. Driving Under the Influence
Around 30 percent of riders who died as a result of a motorcycle crash are alcohol-impaired. Being under the influence of any substance can severely affect your reflexes, ability to focus, sense of judgment, and vision. And, as it’s totally illegal, your chances in a motorcycle accident lawsuit are slim to none.
Always Ride Responsibly
Now that you know the causes of motorcycle accidents, you can stay alert and enjoy a much greater chance of avoiding accidents on the road. Always wear a helmet and be sure to carry out basic maintenance checks on your bike before riding.
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