Top 10 of Motorcycle Crashes & How to Avoid Them

Being a motorcycle driver or passenger requires more risk than other types of vehicles. In fact, in 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists lost their lives to motorcycle crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This fact shouldn’t come as a surprise as motorcycles inherently have less stability than vehicles with more wheels. Motorcyclists also have less protection without the luxury of safety features like airbags on their side. 

Considering all of these issues, it is essential that those who ride on motorcycles take specific precautions to remain safe on the road. Even still, taking precautions will not eliminate the risk of an accident. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, a seasoned California motorcycle accident lawyer can help you.

The top 10 motorcycle collision types and what you can do to avoid them:

1. Another Vehicle Turns in Front of You

It’s not uncommon for drivers to not pay attention. They become distracted and ignore what is going on around them. Another vehicle could turn right in front of you simply because they were not paying attention and did not see you.  They might also turn in front of you because they misjudged your speed. If this occurs, you need to act quickly.

What You Can Do

Be sure that you are paying attention while on your bike so you can see the other vehicle turning. It is imperative that you acquire a sixth sense for other drivers on the road when you are operating your motorcycle. Be on guard and watch for various clues that another driver might turn in front of you. For example, if someone is sitting in an intersection or there is a gap between vehicles.

If you notice these signs, slow down and prepare to act. Assess the driver; are they looking? Do they see you coming? You also need to assess other drivers around you and the road conditions. If you need an escape route, you need to know where you can go. This situation does not require you to lay your bike down. You have a higher chance of survival if you can slow down and steer through another driver’s poor decisions. Slowing down even just 10 MPH can decrease the chances of a crash. If a crash still occurs despite your best efforts, you should contact a motorcycle accident attorney in California to find out what your rights are for compensation. 

2. Another Vehicle Comes Into Your Lane

Other drivers often pull into the lane of traffic that you already occupy. This commonly happens because motorcycles are difficult to see. Motorcyclists are perfect for fitting into blind spots, and most drivers will not bother to look for you. 

What You Can Do

You should take the time to learn the location of blind spots. By knowing where they are, you can make every effort to avoid them. A general rule of thumb is that if you can see the driver’s eyes through their rear-view mirror, they can see you. However, this does not ensure that they are looking or paying attention. 

Be mindful of patterns in traffic. If traffic slows, it is only natural that other drivers will want to make lane changes to keep going. Even if you are in a hurry, get out of the fastest moving lane as that is where other vehicles will be moving. 

You can watch for signs that another motorist is preparing to change lanes. For example, look for turn signals, wandering vehicles, a driver checking mirrors or moving their head to look around them, and wheels turning. Being aware of what other drivers around you are doing will help you avoid collisions from people trying to move into your lane. However, if this situation does occur, a California motorcycle accident attorney can help you. 

3. You Are Going Too Fast at a Corner

As you move into your turn, you suddenly realize that the corner is tighter than you thought. Even though you now know that you aren’t going to make it, it’s too late to avoid a crash.

What You Can Do

Slow down, and do not push your limits while on your bike. If you do enter a corner at higher than ideal speeds, trust your bike. Do what you can to continue turning and have faith that you are underestimating your motorcycle. You can hang off of your bike to remove some of the lean from your turn. Doing this will push it up ever so slightly. Motorcycle experts recommend that you focus on where you want your bike to go and operate the controls as smoothly as possible in this situation. 

4. Your Front Brake Locks Up

You are enjoying the freedom of the open road when suddenly a deer jumps in front of you. Naturally, you hit the brakes, but you end up on the pavement while your motorcycle continues down the street. 

What You Can Do

Become a master of your front brake. Even though it is difficult to learn, it is crucial because this brake is the fastest way to decrease your speed in a pinch. You can do this by finding an empty lot. Start with a specific speed and brake when you hit. Determine how long it takes you to stop. Keep doing this, focusing on decreasing your braking distance.

You will likely feel your front tire lock and your back wheel lifting off the ground. Getting a feel for this will make you better prepared to handle the situation in real life.  If you own a motorcycle with ABS, this won’t be as much of a concern. Whenever you need to make a quick emergency stop, squeeze your brake lever. 

5. Another Vehicle Hits You From Behind

You come to a stop at a red light or stop sign, but the driver behind you does not. They hit you while going full speed, likely because they are distracted. In most cases, there won’t be any damages to the vehicle or its driver, but it can cause severe injuries to a motorcyclist. 

What You Can Do

Unfortunately, the only thing you can do to avoid rear impacts is to remain alert to your surroundings. If you need to complete your stop off to the side of the lane instead of in the middle. Tap your brakes several times to make your lights flash rapidly to gain the driver’s attention. 

Leave your motorcycle in gear with your hand on the throttle. By doing this, you can get out of the way if needed before a crash happens. In situations where visibility is less than ideal, be extra alert. If you are involved in an accident of this type, be sure to reach out to a skilled California motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you recover your damages. 

6. Lane Splitting

Motorcyclists who drive between two lanes of slow-moving traffic are being extremely risky. This recipe for disaster is also called white lining or stripe-riding. It places bikes and cars very close to each other, increasing the chances of a collision. In these circumstances, the motorcyclist also has less room to move. 

What You Can Do

You can avoid lane splitting accidents by not participating in this practice in the first place. If you decide to do it, only do it at slow speeds and do not operate your bike at any more than 10 MPH than the cars you are passing. When traffic speeds begin to pick up again, you want to stop riding in the middle. If you see a gap in traffic and are not entirely sure you will fit it, don’t attempt it. You should also avoid passing between two long vehicles that are positioned parallel to each other.

7. Group Riding

Similar to lane splitting, riding with other bikers can cause the same types of collisions. It’s not technically considered lane splitting, but it comes with the same risks. Every biker in your group needs to understand and follow stagger formation to keep everyone safe. Doing so will improve visibility for everyone and allows for riders to move out of line if necessary.

What You Can Do

Space is on your side while you are riding. Whether you want to bypass some traffic or head somewhere with your biker buddies, the more room you have, the safer you are.

8. Slippery Roads

The ideal road condition for motorcyclists is dry. Obviously, with the California weather, this isn’t always going to happen. You may find yourself needing to ride when the road is wet and cold. These are not ideal conditions for bikers to ride in.

What You Can Do

The most important thing you can do to increase your safety under these conditions is to invest in a quality set of tires. With these tires, your bike will better handle wet and cold roads. You should also be sure to reduce your speed and remain in control of your bike. Whatever you do, do not panic. Keep your eye on the road to avoid obstacles. 

Even utility hole covers will be slippery when the roads are wet. Be watchful for other fluids on the roadway, and if you see a substance reflecting rainbow-like colors, do your best to move out of the way safely, as it is probably oil. Road conditions are usually the worst during the first hour after a rainstorm, as this is when oil is floating on top of the water.

If possible, delay going anywhere on your bike to avoid riding during that hour. Take a coffee break if you need to. In bad weather, reduced visibility is also typical. Keep in mind that other vehicles also need more response time and distance to stop if visibility is poor. 

9. A Car Door Opens in Front of You

Driving down city roads, there is a line of parked cars to your right. Drivers who are not paying attention will often open their doors without any thought as to where you are. The result is a collision with their door.

What You Can Do

When possible, stay out of the lane between heavy traffic and parked cars. Ride as far away from the line of parked cars as you can. This is the best way to avoid these types of accidents. It’s tempting to ride in this lane, but it places you too close to parked vehicles, and it can make it more difficult for pedestrians to see you. 

If you do find yourself about to hit a car door, brake as hard as you can. The goal is to reduce your speed as much as possible. Even if you cannot entirely avoid a collision, a collision at lower speeds is better than one at higher speeds. 

10. Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol

Up to 28 percent of motorcycle deaths involved bikers who were alcohol-impaired at the time of the accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). There is no arguing that alcohol consumption significantly reduces motorcycle safety.

What You Can Do

There is never any reason to drink and ride your motorcycle. Doing so will put your life and the lives of other pedestrians and motorists at risk. Taking the chance is not worth it.

The Importance of Motorcycle Safety Gear

Even the best and most experienced motorcyclists are at risk for accidents. Riding a motorcycle comes with many inherent risks, but you can reduce these risks by using appropriate safety gear. When you use safety gear, you significantly reduce the chance

Currently, only 19 states, including New York and Washington D.C., have enacted legislation that requires motorcycle riders to wear helmets. Even though less than half of the states regulate wearing them, there is no doubt that helmets save lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates helmet use reduces the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of head injury by 69 percent.

In addition to helmets, you can also protect yourself by wearing protective jackets, pants, suits, boots, gloves, and eye protection. 

You can be an avid and experienced rider, but you cannot control the variables around you. Road and weather conditions, distracted drivers, and drunk drivers on the road will always increase your risk of injury. Safety gear can protect you against these risks and is worth your money. If you do get into an accident, a motorcycle accident attorney in California can protect your interests.

Heed These Top Safety Tips While Riding Your Motorcycle

Adhere to these tips to stay safe on your bike. They may even save your life.

  1. Always wear your helmet and other safety gear
  2. Obey all traffic rules
  3. Drive defensively while paying attention to what is going on around you to prepare for any unexpected circumstances
  4. Always assume that other drivers cannot see you and stay out of their blind spot
  5. Never drink and ride, sober riding is the only way to go
  6. Before getting on your bike, always inspect the tires, lights, and fluids to ensure that it is road-ready
  7. Once you are on your bike, check the clutch, throttle, mirrors, brakes, and horn before proceeding down the road
  8. Drive at safe speeds
  9. Observe the roads for hazards so that you can avoid them
  10. Avoid riding your bike in adverse weather conditions
  11. Do not cut between vehicles to get to your destination faster
  12. Keep your riding skills sharp by taking refresher classes, even if you think you do not need them

When you invest your money and efforts into ensuring you are doing everything you can to reach your destination safely, you can truly enjoy your time on the open road responsibly. If, however, another driver causes your bike accident don’t hesitate to discuss the accident with an experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer. We serve the entire state from Sacramento to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and beyond!

You can contact Arash Khorsandi and his colleagues today at Arash Law by phone (888) 488-1391 or receive a free online case consultation.

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DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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