Common sense tells us that motorcycle riders are injured or killed more often in crashes than other drivers. Statistical analysis backs up that intuition. A 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that approximately 13 out of 100,000 passenger cars were involved in fatal accidents. By contrast, more than 72 out of 100,000 registered motorcycles wound up in fatal crashes. In other words, a motorcycle was more than five times more likely to end up in a fatal accident, according to these data.
But what types of motorcycle accidents happen most often? Can you do anything to prevent them, whether you’re a cyclist or a driver? Read on for our analysis and general guidelines.
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Many motorcycle-vehicle accidents happen simply because the motorist does not see the cyclist. The bike might hide in a blind spot, or night-time visibility or poor weather might hinder the driver’s vision. Motorists should slow down in inclement weather and at night in order to avoid accidents.
A motorcycle rider might deftly maneuver through busy city streets, weaving through stuck traffic, seemingly unimpeded by stationary or slow moving cars. That easy travel can change in an instant, however, if the biker happens to zoom by a parked car when the door swings open at exactly the wrong moment, hitting the rider.
When one car or truck rear-ends another car or truck, the accident might result in a dented bumper, if that. However, when a much-larger vehicle rear ends a motorcycle, the force can flip the bike into the air, destroying the bike and causing serious injury or even death.
Thanks to their small size and two wheels, motorcycles are much more prone to skidding and losing control. Poor road conditions increase those risks. For example, the cyclist might turn a corner and hit gravel, sand or some other slippery substance in his or her path. Or he or she might misjudge and simply turn too quickly, resulting in a nasty spill.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 2.5 times as many motorcyclists as car or truck drivers will have a blood-alcohol content level of .08 percent or higher in a fatal crash. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides further data to support those figures: An estimated 46 percent of cyclists who are killed in crashes have at least some alcohol in their systems. While vehicle drivers might assume responsibility for many collisions, cyclists can reduce their risk by not drinking and driving.