Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents & How to Avoid Them

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If you ride a motorcycle, statistics show that you’re at a greater risk of being seriously injured or dying in a crash than driving in a car.

However, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself and prevent yourself from being involved in a motorcycle accident in the first place.

This page will cover some of the most common causes of accidents involving motorcycles and how to avoid them.

1. Cars Turning Left in Front of a Motorcycle

Left turn accidents at intersections are one of the most common causes of crashes between motorcycles and cars.

Left turn crashes can occur when:

  • A car makes an unprotected left when a motorcycle has the right-of-way going straight.
    OR
  • A motorcycle tries to pass a car on the left that is making a left turn.

Either of these can results from a combination of distractions, poor judgement, or lack of visibility.

How to Avoid It

The best way to avoid being involved in an accident with a car turning left is to look for the hazard and avoid it.

When you approach an intersection, assume that the cars are going to make it dangerous for you. Look for clues that a car might be turning left.

Slow down, spot your exit routes, and be prepared to stop if necessary.

2. Excessive Speed

Riding too fast is a major cause of accidents for motorcyclists just as it is for cars.

When you increase your speed:

  • You have less time to react to hazards.
  • You need more time to stop.
  • It makes it even more difficult for other drivers to see you.

How to Avoid It

Always drive at speeds no faster than what is safe for the current conditions.

This means you need to adjust and judge your appropriate speed based on:

  • Other traffic.
  • Your surroundings.
  • Curves or turns.
  • The road surface.
  • Other potential hazards.

Being able to speed up quickly is a powerful tool in a motorcyclists evasive maneuvers available to avoid a crash – if you’re riding too fast, you likely won’t have that option.

3. Riding Under the Influence

Riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a common factor in many deadly motorcycle crashes.

Riding drunk:

  • Reduces your vision.
  • Impairs your judgement.
  • Weakens your reaction time.
  • Lessens your control over your bike.

Vision, judgement, reaction time, and control are all extremely important things that a safe motorcyclist needs. Doing anything that would intentionally reduce them is idiotic.

How to Avoid It

Simple. Don’t drink and ride. Don’t take drugs and ride.

4. Poor Road Conditions

Poor road conditions like loose gravel, potholes, uneven road surface, slippery surfaces, dirt, or oil can be dangerous for motorcycles.

Any of these things can lead to a reduction in traction or cause you to loose control of your bike.

How to Avoid It

The best way to avoid a crash caused by poor road conditions is to not ride over them in the first place.

The best way to avoid these types of things is to spot them before you get too close. Learn to increase your field of vision and identify hazards in front of you.

The next thing you can do to avoid this type of crash is to reduce your speed into curves and blind corners.

If you must cross over a hazard on the surface of the road, maintain a slow speed, cover the brakes, and make smooth movements.

5. Panic Stops & Skids

Panic stops or emergency stops in which you stop too quickly because of an unexpected hazard can cause you to loose control of your bike and go into a skid.

How to Avoid It

First, you’ll need to be able to recognize and prioritize potential hazards before they become an immediate problem. Look for safer paths and exit routes so you can avoid panic stopping in the first place.

Next, you’ll need to be good a using your brakes.

Use the front brake lever and rear brake pedal at the same time. Spend some time practicing your stopping distance and control in an empty parking lot until you’re a pro.

6. Cars Changing Lanes without Looking

Inattentive drivers can be a huge problem for motorcycles.

Lots of drivers fail to check their blind spots when they change lanes.

In many cases, drivers are just blind to motorcycles due to their size and speed.

How to Avoid It

Don’t linger in the blind spots of other drivers. Get in and out quickly.

Learn how to recognize when a car might change lanes. Look for clues like the turn signal, the driver’s eye, and where the driver is looking.

Make yourself as visible as possible.

7. Lane Splitting

Even in places where lane splitting is legal or allowed, it can still cause collisions.

Lane splitting crashes often happen when:

  • There is not enough space between vehicles.
  • The speed of traffic makes it unsafe to lane split.
  • The motorcyclist is splitting lanes at an unsafe speed.
  • A car changes lane in front of a motorcycle that is lane splitting.

How to Avoid It

Lane splitting has been proven to have benefits for motorcycles and other vehicles when done safely.

To avoid crashes while splitting lanes:

  • Only do so at a safe speed.
  • Only do so when you have enough room.
  • Learn how to recognize potential dangers before they become a problem for you.

8. Improper Cornering

Bad cornering is one of the most common causes of single vehicle motorcycle crashes.

Not knowing how to corner on your motorcycle can lead to you:

  • Veering off the road way.
  • Loosing control of your bike.
  • Entering the opposite lane of traffic and colliding with another vehicle.

How to Avoid It

To avoid crashes while cornering, you’re going to need to learn how to corner properly and practice your skills. Good cornering involves:

  • Entering at a safe speed and speeding up through the turn.
  • Looking through the turn where you want to go.
  • Leaning properly.
  • Counter steering.

9. Car Doors Opening

If you’re riding along surface streets near parked cars, opening doors can be dangerous.

If a parked car doesn’t check before opening their door and you’re too close, a dangerous crash is likely to occur.

How to Avoid It

Avoid riding too close to parked cars, and avoid splitting between parked cars and traffic moving in your direction.

10. Reckless Riding

Reckless riding is another top cause of motorcycle accidents. Being reckless on a motorcycle can take many forms, such as:

  • Not wearing the right safety gear.
  • Weaving through traffic.
  • Doing wheelies or trick riding on the street.
  • Excessive speed.
  • Running traffic lights.

How to Avoid It

Reckless riding invites hazards to you.

When you get on your bike you should be in the habit of recognizing and avoiding danger.

Always wear the proper safety gear, ride safely and responsibly, and be respectful of other motorists and your motorcycle.

Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents and Staying Safe

Knowing the potential hazards is an important part of avoiding them in the first place. Some other things you can do to stay safe and avoid accidents include:

  • Practice and improve your riding skills.
  • Keep your bike maintained and in safe condition.
  • Wearing all the motorcycle safety gear all the time.
  • Making yourself as visible as possible.
  • Learning how to quickly recognize and react to potential hazards before they become a problem.

If you are involved in an accident, it might be a good idea to consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer to help your case.

Find some more new motorcycle rider tips here.

Tips for other Motorists

Nobody ever wants to be involved in a crash, and it’s every driver’s responsibility to be safe and respectful on the road.

Automobile drivers can help prevent accidents with motorcycles by:

  • Making a conscious effort to spot motorcyclists when they drive.
  • Double checking for motorcycles before making turns and changing lanes.
  • Giving motorcycles the full lane.
  • Keeping a safe following distance behind a motorcycle rider.