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Are Motorcycles Actually That Much More Dangerous Than Cars?

Are Motorcycles Actually That Much More Dangerous Than Cars?

Are Motorcycles Actually That Much More Dangerous Than Cars?

And If So, What Can A Cyclist Do To Stay Safe?

Many who are not already licensed motorcycle riders have at least entertained the thought of riding one. They are cheaper and more fuel efficient than cars and are often seen maneuvering through dense lines of vehicles while others are trapped in traffic. The most common considerations that leads to the dismissal of these thoughts are the associated safety hazards.

But how dangerous are motorcycles really? And if they’re as dangerous as we’ve been led to believe, what can a motorcycle rider to do minimize their risk of injury?

The Facts

Since 1994, deaths resulting from motorcycle crashes have been slowly but surely increasing. And with the passage of lane-splitting laws, the fear that this trend will continue has only grown. In 1994 there were 2,320 motorcycle fatalities recorded in California. By 2016, that number had grown to 5,286, accounting for over 14% of total vehicular deaths (from 1994’s 5%).

  • California is ranked 15th in the nation for frequency of motorcycle deaths with Nevada taking the lead at a rate that exceeds 22% of total vehicular deaths (8% greater than California’s already high number)
  • According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) released in the California Governor’s Report of May 2018, late 2015 to early 2016 experienced a 6% surge in motorcycle fatalities.
  • Motorcycle riders are 28 times more likely to die in a collision than passenger-vehicle drivers are with more than 80% of crashes resulting in death or serious injury

It’s Not All Bad

  • Motorcycle fatalities decreased 15.57% from 578 in 2017 to 488 in 2018.
  • Motorcyclist deaths from not wearing a helmet decreased 33% from 45 in 2017 to 30 in 2018.
  • A 2017 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association reported a 28% reduction in motorcycle fatalities from 566 down to 406 while fatalities in the United States as a whole dropped 5.6%

The Theories

When considering the facts associated with motorcycle deaths, the inherent danger of that mode of transportation becomes apparent. But what are possible reasons for these trends? An understanding of their underlying causes may help drivers exercise more caution on the roads.

There are many theories regarding significant contributing factors to the increasing danger of operating a motorcycle, some of the most prominent include:

  • Faster bikes encouraging more dangerous speeds
  • Increased prevalence of cell-phone use will driving, even motorcycles
  • Population growth contributing to an overall increase in the number of riders
  • Greater prevalence of impaired driving under the influence of alcohol, as well as the recent legalization of marijuana
  • Climate change causing a rise in the number of riding days

In What Situations Is A Motorcycle Accident Most Likely To Occur?

This is where awareness could really contribute to a safer driving experience for both motorcyclists and drivers of normal cars. By understanding the most dangerous situations for motorcycles to maneuver in, motorists may be able to take the necessary precautions when they arise. The list below highlights the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:

  • Unsafe lane changes – Motorcycles have blind spots just like larger vehicles and changing lanes without proper awareness could prove fatal.
  • Car doors – Many motorists are not looking both ways as they do when crossing an intersection when they open their doors. Sometimes a motorcycle drivers realizes all too late that a car is opening its door in their path. This is why it is crucial to exercise greater caution when driving by stopped vehicles.
  • Speeding – Bikes have only grown faster and they will continue to do so. It is imperative that the speed these vehicles can achieve is only tested on licensed race tracks.
  • Driving under the influence – Often the complex motor skills required to operate a vehicle prove too much to handle for even a mildly inebriated driver. This is why drunk-driving laws are so strict. Motorcycles require an even greater array of more sensitive motor skills and are thus much more dangerous to drive under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.
  • Lane splitting – Although legal, this practice can prove very dangerous when other drivers are not looking-out diligently for passing motorcycles as they change lanes.
  • Sudden stops – Sudden stops are much less controlled for two-wheeled vehicles as they are for four-wheeled vehicles since the former relies on momentum to stay upright. A sudden stop may quickly send a motorcycle careening of course.
  • Inexperienced drivers – Young drivers are the most common operators of motorcycles. This demographic is also known for exercising less caution, taking greater risks, and taking more time to react to unfamiliar situations.
  • Left turn accidents – Many motorcyclists incorrectly judge the distance of a left turn which can lead to them driving into an opposing lane of traffic or colliding with a curb or streetlight.
  • Dangerous conditions – Vehicles with four wheels are much better equipped to handle unsafe infrastructure such as rough roads or potholes. Even a minor flaw in the road could cause a motorcycle to lose traction.
  • Manufacturing defects – Again, due to the need to maintain constant traction a motorcycle handles sudden operating defects with much less control than a passenger-vehicle would.

How To Stay Safe As A Motorcyclist

Although safety is never guaranteed in any vehicles, there are precautions any motorist can take to minimize their risk of being in a serious accident. A motorcycle driver must make sure that they are always operating their vehicle with the proper safety gear on, including a helmet, gloves and jacket.

Additionally, a cyclist should go through the following safety checks before going on a ride:

  • Check for cracks or bulges in the tires
  • Check for sign of wear on the tire tread
  • Search for signs of leakage under the bike, this could indicate an oil or gas leak
  • Test both your front and rear lights to ensure they are in working order
  • Hydraulic and coolant fluids must be checked every week at a minimum
  • Try out the clutch and throttle to see if they are working as expected, if something feels off then investigate further before driving
  • While driving slowly on an open road or lot, test the functionality of the front and rear brakes, they should feel as if they are firmly stopping the vehicle when the driver wants
  • Finally, make sure the horn is in working order

Further, although the classic tenets of motorist safety go without saying, they need further emphasis for drivers of risk-sensitive vehicles. Always make sure you are sober, awake, and alert before riding a motorcycle. Follow any and all traffic rules.

And most importantly, ride defensively. Like it or not, other drivers tend to consider motorcyclists least when pondering the dangers of the road. This is why it is imperative to not place your trust in other drivers and instead drive on the defensive.

Contact A Personal Injury Attorney

Were you or a loved one recently injured in a motorcycle crash caused by another party? As the article above notes, motorcycle collisions are far too common, and many involved are lucky to leave with their lives despite serious injuries they may have sustained in the process.

An experienced personal injury attorney like Napolin Auto Accident Lawyer can help you obtain a fair settlement. This settlement can help greatly with related expenses such as lost wages and medical bills.

Still unsure if you need to hire an attorney? With our Free Consultation Policy you can talk with a member of our team to make sure that you are making the right decisions, at no cost. Call today!

Alexander D. Napolin, Esq.