There are many contributing factors in motorcycle accidents, which are very common. Unfortunately, they are also very deadly. In 2019, motorcycles were about 3 percent of registered vehicles in the US, but about 14 percent of all traffic deaths were attributed to crashes involving motorcycles. Another 84,000 motorcycle riders were hurt in bike crashes that same year. This overrepresentation of motorcycles in fatal crashes is likely due to motorcycles lacking some of the protective features of passenger vehicles.
Often motorcycle drivers are not the cause of the accident, and motorcycle riders can’t prevent every potential accident, but knowing the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in North Carolina can help everyone to reduce the risk:
Failure to yield. Failure to yield is often the cause listed when a car or other large vehicle turns in front of a bike. In fact, it’s very common for passenger vehicles to turn in front of a motorcycle. For the year 2019, the NHTSA reported that in almost half of all fatal motorcycle/passenger vehicle crashes, the passenger vehicle was making a left turn and failed to yield to the bike.
While there are many factors that can contribute to this situation, frequently the turning driver says that they just didn’t see the motorcycle. This is due to the bike’s relatively small size. Essentially, the most common cause of motorcycle accidents is the failure of other motorists on the road to notice the motorcycle. Sometimes this is due to poor visibility, but it can also happen because the driver is distracted or going too fast.
What can you do? Regardless of what kind of vehicle you drive, remember to “look twice and save a life” before turning or pulling out onto a roadway. This can help you see smaller vehicles you might otherwise miss if you just take a quick glance.
Speeding. A factor in some failure to yield accidents, speeding can also contribute to other kinds of crashes. It can be problematic whether the motorcyclist or the passenger vehicle is speeding, but about a third of fatal bike crashes in 2019 involved a speeding motorcyclist.. Reckless driving is also an issue. While you can’t control what other drivers on the road do, you can be careful to follow the speed limits, and avoid aggressive or inattentive driving. Tailgating should also be avoided.
Head-on Collisions. However, only 7 percent of motorcycle accidents involve the bike being hit from behind. In most (75 percent) crashes involving a motorcycle and passenger vehicle, the larger vehicle hit the motorcycle in the front. This is particularly dangerous for the motorcyclist, as they aren’t protected by air bags or metal doors the way the car’s passengers are. Head-on collisions can be caused by factors like distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and disobeying traffic laws.
Road hazards. These aren’t safe for anyone, but can be particularly dangerous for motorcycles, which are less stable due to their size. Slippery roads, uneven road surfaces, gravel on roads, debris in the roadway, and railroad tracks can cause a bike to destabilize. Slowing down in wet or foggy weather and keeping an eye out for any issues on the roadway are important safety precautions for bikers to take.
Driving While Intoxicated. Almost a third (30 percent) of motorcyclists in fatal crashes for the year 2019 had a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher. If you’ve had a bit too much to drink and wouldn’t get behind the wheel, you shouldn’t get on your bike, either.
Once you’ve taken steps to prevent accidents, take another step to reduce the risk of injury or death if you are in one: Wear a helmet. The NHTSA estimates that for every 100 motorcycle riders killed in accidents who aren’t wearing helmets, 37 of them could have survived if they’d worn a helmet. Traumatic brain injuries can also present serious, long-term issues for crash survivors, and a helmet can help reduce the risk of head injuries.
Between medical bills and lost income, motorcycle accidents can be devastating for the victim and their family. And in many cases, another party is at fault in the crash. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a motorcycle crash, please contact us for a free consultation to learn your legal options for compensation.