Due to the unprotected environment, a motorcycle rider is more likely to result in serious injury or death. It pays for motorcyclists to learn about the most frequent causes of accidents and then use this awareness to reduce their level of risk.
Motorcycles in Head-On Collisions
Crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles account for 56% of motorcycle accident deaths. In the vast majority of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front –78% of the time. (The car strikes the motorcycle from the rear only 5% of the time.) Head-on collisions between a car and motorcycle are often fatal to the motorcyclist.
Cars Making Left-Hand Turns
The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists occurs when cars are making left-hand turns. These collisions account for 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car. Usually, the turning car strikes the motorcycle when the motorcycle is:
- going straight through an intersection
- passing the car, or,
- trying to overtake the car.
These types of accidents are common between two cars as well, but the motorcycle’s smaller size makes it even less visible to the turning vehicle. Motorcycles that pass cars within the same lane are even more vulnerable –cars don’t expect, and are often surprised by, such motorcycle maneuvers.
Almost always, a vehicle that hits another vehicle while making a left-hand turn will be found at fault for the accident. However, if the motorcyclist was speeding or in the wrong lane, the motorcyclist may be partly at fault for the accident.
Motorcycle Lane Splitting
Lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of stopped or slowly moving cars, usually in traffic jams. This is not legal in Massachusetts, but that doesn’t stop some motorcyclists from breaking the law. Lane splitting is a common cause of motorcycle accidents due to several factors:
- the close proximity of the cars to the motorcycle
- the reduced space the motorcycle has to maneuver, and
- the fact that the cars don’t anticipate that any vehicle or motorcycle will be passing them in slowed or stopped traffic.
Road Hazards Facing Motorcyclists
Motorcycles face higher dangers from road hazards than do cars and other vehicles. Due to the smaller size and less stable nature of the motorcycle, potholes, dead animals, slick pavement conditions, uneven heights between lanes, and other irregularities or unexpected objects in the road pose a serious safety threat to motorcycles. Take this into consideration when driving near or behind a bike. They may nee to react to things that a car driver would never notice.