Motorcycle accidents result in $12 billion in costs and losses each year throughout the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motorcycle riders face a serious risk of being hurt or killed in a crash. It is important for motorcyclists to understand the risks they face on the road. Drivers of passenger cars and trucks also need to know how their actions can impact the safety of motorcycle riders, so drivers can exercise caution and try to protect motorcyclists from collisions.
One of the best ways to reduce motorcycle accidents is to understand how and when this type of accident occurs. One big thing to be aware of is that there are more motorcycle crashes on rural roads than there were 20 years ago. CDC reports that close to half of all motorcycle crashes today occur on rural roads.
Of course, motorcycle accidents can happen anywhere, including both rural and urban environments, if either the motorcyclist or other drivers fail to exercise reasonable care and caution. One state's Motor Vehicle Administration provided in-depth information about the most common situations when motorcycle accidents happen. These situations include:
- Accidents at intersections with drivers making left turns. If a driver is making a left in front of a motorcycle, this is a very dangerous situation for a motorcycle rider. Drivers at intersections frequently don't see motorcycles because motorcycles are so much smaller than passenger cars are. This can cause a driver to cut off a motorcycle or hit a motorcycle that is coming straight on. Drivers also frequently misjudge how fast motorcycle riders are going due to their size.
- Accidents when a motorcycle is in a car's blind spot: If a motorcyclist is riding along a lane of cars, the driver may not see him. The driver could strike the motorcyclist when trying to change lanes.
- Accidents due to poor road or weather conditions: Motorcycle riders are more affected by problems with road surfaces than drivers are. Motorcycle riders may also need to change lanes to avoid potholes or debris. Drivers may not be expecting this and a crash could occur. Bad weather can also be harder for motorcyclists to navigate safely, especially when the ground is slick with rain or when it is very windy. A strong gust of wind, including wind gusts from large trucks, could cause motorcycles to move across lanes.
Accidents can be prevented, despite the risk that motorcycle riders face. Some tips to prevent common motorcycle crashes include:
- Drivers must look carefully for motorists, taking into account their smaller size.
- Drivers should try to anticipate in advance what types of maneuvers a motorcyclist may need to make.
- Drivers should respect the rights of motorcycles. This means giving motorcycles a full lane and treating every motorcycle as if it was exactly the same as a car or truck.
- Drivers should leave ample space between their car and a motorcycle that they are following so the motorcyclist will have time to react to road problems.
These common-sense strategies will hopefully help motorcyclists and drivers to take steps to reduce crash rates.