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Common Causes for Motorcycle Accidents

If you’re someone who can’t wait to jump on your motorcycle and head for the open road, you’re not alone. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that bike registrations in the U.S. topped 8.6 million in 2021, more than double the number (4.3 million) registered in 2002.

While there’s no doubt that riding can be an extremely exciting, freeing and exhilarating experience, you also need to recognize that you stand an 80% chance of sustaining serious injuries or even dying if you crash.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Motorcycle accident statistics are sobering at best and include the following:

  • In 2020 alone, 5,458 riders died in accidents, the highest number ever recorded and a 9% increase over the previous year.
  • In 2019, 79% of rider fatalities involved alcohol usage, either by the rider himself or herself or by the motorist involved in the accident.
  • Considerably more bike accidents happen in southern states than in northern states, where winter weather often curtails the bike season.
  • Even though wearing a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation reduces your head injury risk by 69% and your death risk by 42%, helmet usage among riders has decreased by 2% in recent years.
  • Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire have no helmet laws at all, while 18 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws for all riders; the remaining 29 states only require helmets for specific riders, generally based on age.

Motorcycle Accident Causes

Unfortunately, bike riding is an inherently dangerous activity. Not only do motorists often not give you the respect they give to passenger vehicles and trucks, but your bike does not offer you the protections available to passenger vehicle occupants.

Numerous causes exist for motorcycle accidents, but they can be broken down into the following three categories:

  1. Those attributable to others
  2. Those possibly attributable to you as well as others
  3. Those attributable to other factors

Causes Attributable to Others

Given that upwards of 276 million motor vehicles were registered in the U.S. in 2020, these bigger and heavier vehicles far outnumber motorcycles. Consequently, what their drivers do can catastrophically impact you. The most common causes of bike accidents attributable to others include the following:

  • Making improper or careless left turns
  • Falling prey to “inattentional blindness,” that is, looking at you, but not really seeing you or your bike because that’s not what’s expected
  • Opening a left-side car door when parallel parked
  • Stopping suddenly in front of you
  • Failing to properly signal for turns or lane changes
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way to you when required to do so

Causes Possibly Attributable You as Well as Others

It should come as no surprise to you that bike riders can be just as guilty of poor driving habits as motor vehicle drivers. If you engage in any of the following practices and an accident ensues, you may share responsibility with the other driver for causing it:

Causes Attributable to Other Factors

While most motorcycle accidents involve the bike and a motor vehicle, usually a car, your bike can crash without the cause being someone’s negligence or recklessness. Usually, inclement weather or hazardous road conditions cause these types of accidents.

Inclement Weather

It goes without saying that riding your bike during inclement weather poses an even greater danger to you than riding on a clear, warm, sunny day. Bad weather, including the following, makes riding extremely hazardous:

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Heavy rain

Hazardous Road Conditions

Finally, hazardous road conditions, such as the following, can cause a crash before you have time to avert it:

  • Pavement defects, including potholes, uneven lanes, poorly resurfaced roads, etc.
  • Insufficient road shoulders, including those with a severe drop-off
  • Unmarked shoulders and lanes
  • Puddles that could hide serious holes or black ice on which you almost surely will skid and possibly lose control of your bike
  • Loose gravel or sand, especially on curves
  • Railroad tracks that cross the road
  • Trees, other vegetation or signage that obstructs your view
  • Poor lighting at night

Potentially Devastating Accident Consequences

Most motorcycle crash injuries are notoriously serious ones. After all, you have only your clothing, and hopefully your helmet and a pair of goggles, to protect you from whatever you hit — or whatever hits you.

The most common bike injuries consist of the following:

  • Head injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Arm and leg injuries
  • Road rash

Head Injuries

While wearing a DOT-approved helmet can save your life, it can’t prevent you from sustaining a traumatic brain injury. Defined as what happens when your head violently impacts a hard object, such as the pavement, a guardrail, a tree, a bridge abutment, etc., a TBI is an extremely serious injury that can disable you for life.

Unfortunately, no two TBIs are the same, so it’s impossible to predict the lingering effects yours could have on you. Nevertheless, common long-term TBI consequences include the following:

  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Mobility problems
  • Balance problems
  • Cognitive problems
  • Emotional control problems, especially those associated with anger, frustration, anxiety or depression

Neck and Back Injuries

If you break or otherwise damage your neck or back in your bike accident, the result could well be a spinal cord injury that partially or totally paralyzes you.

The precise location of your SCI and the severity of it determine how much paralysis you may experience. If you injure your middle to lower back, the result likely will be paraplegia, i.e., paralysis and loss of sensation in your hips, legs and feet. If you injure your neck or upper back, the result likely will be quadriplegia, i.e., paralysis and loss of sensation in your arms, hands and trunk in addition to your hips, legs and feet. Either way, you may never be able to walk again and need to use a wheelchair to move from one place to another.

Arm and Leg Injuries

Your arms and legs are at particular risk in a bike crash, with common injuries including the following:

In addition, you also face the very real possibility that your bike will fall on you, possibly causing a crush injury so severe that your affected arm or leg will need to be amputated.

Road Rash

It’s almost inevitable that you will receive road rash injuries in your bike crash as you slide along the pavement or other surfaces. At highway speeds, the sliding could well tear off your clothing, leaving your skin unprotected from the abrasions that road rash causes.

In severe road rash cases, the wounds could go through your underlying muscles and other tissues all the way to your bones. If this happens, you face skin grafting and possibly reconstructive surgery. These, in turn, likely will leave lasting scars.

Get the Legal Help You Need

If you become involved in a motorcycle accident anywhere in Idaho, Texas or Utah, come to Fielding Law. We are a premier personal injury law firm composed of lawyers who aggressively represent people injured in all types of accidents, including motorcycle accidents. We offer you a free initial case evaluation, and you never pay a legal fee unless and until we favorably resolve your accident claim.

Sources:

https://www.iihs.org/api/datastoredocument/bibliography/2225

https://www.ride.vision/blog/10-top-motorcycle-accident-causes/

https://quotewizard.com/news/posts/dangerous-states-for-motorcycles

https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/Motorcyclists

https://www.statista.com/statistics/192998/registered-passenger-cars-in-the-united-states-since-1975/

https://www.gardenstatepain.com/blog/5-most-common-motorcycle-injuries

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20378557

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-cord-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20377890

https://www.verywellhealth.com/road-rash-treatment-1298921

https://www.fieldinglaw.com/

https://www.fieldinglaw.com/practice-areas/motorcycle-accidents/