How Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
Motorcycle Injuries Are Serious. Here’s Why They Happen
America loves motorcycles. From classic Harley Davidson choppers to futuristic Yamaha racing models, no vehicle quite captures the American imagination like a motorcycle. While riding them may be fun, it also comes with a unique set of safety considerations.
More than 5,000 people die every year from motorcycle crashes. As motorcycles also lack many cars’ safety features, they have a higher fatality rate when accidents occur. Even if a motorcycle accident isn’t fatal, affected motorcyclists face a much higher chance of sustaining debilitating or lifelong injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, or loss of a limb. These injuries can be life-altering and often come with steep medical expenses.
Awareness and preparedness are both vital aspects of motorcycle safety. To that end, motorcyclists need to understand the unique dangers they face on the road. Here are some of the most common conditions for motorcycle accidents:
Left Turn Collisions
Intersections can be dangerous places for motorcyclists, and left-handed turns are a big factor. Around 56% of motorcycle crashes happen on urban roadways, and most urban accidents occur at intersections.
The most common form of a left turn collision comes from a motorist failing to notice a motorcycle traveling in the opposite direction while attempting to make a left-hand turn. This can also happen when a motorcyclist tries to overtake a car in an intersection without the driver being aware that a motorcycle is nearby.
In either case, this creates plenty of opportunities for the vehicles to collide. A motorcycle might crash directly into a turning car, or it might be sideswiped as the vehicle steers mid-turn without checking its blind spots. This can be a recipe for dangerous motorcycle accidents and collisions with cars.
Driving in Georgia, especially in Atlanta, Macon, Athens or Savannah, can require some intense split-second decisions, and the most effective way to avoid accidents like this is to see them coming. Being mindful of cars that are about to turn can save lives. Keep an eye out for gaps in traffic that cars might try to utilize, and pay special attention when you see a car ‘inching’ over in an intersection. If anything happens that would suggest a car is turning, slow down to give yourself more time to react. After all, any time you save by speeding up is lost when you hit something.
Debris on the Road
Every driver has encountered something weird on one of Atlanta’s interstate highways. Whether it’s a burst tire on I-20 or I-85, some loose lumber on I-285, or a full port-a-potty stranded in the center lanes from construction on I-575, there’s always the chance that your drive will be interrupted by debris.
While no driver wants to hit debris while on the road, different types of vehicles face vastly different considerations if they do. Motorcycles don’t have the same mass, shock absorption, or passenger protections that cars do, and hitting something loose on the road comes with the genuine risk of being thrown from your seat.
As mentioned above, the most effective way to avoid this accident is to give yourself time and room to react. Driving at a manageable speed and staying aware of what’s on the road prevents you from having to make frantic, split-second decisions, or worse: hitting the object in front of you.
Drunk or Negligent Drivers
Drunk driving poses a serious danger to anyone sharing the road, and distracted driving isn’t too far off in the risks that it poses. Unfortunately, as a motorcyclist, there’s no way to prevent people from driving drunk. While you don’t play a part in the reckless decisions that lead people to drive while intoxicated, you can certainly find yourself caught up in the consequences of their behavior.
What makes drunk drivers uniquely dangerous to motorcycles is their diminished ability to see them. If a drunk driver is staying on the road by following lights on a car in front of them or drifting from lane-to-lane, they’re unlikely to notice a motorcyclist until it’s too late. If a vehicle on your road is exhibiting drunk behavior, your goal should be to get away as quickly as you can safely. Taking a detour onto a side street or pulling off into the next exit might increase your drive time, but it’s worth it to avoid being in the potential impact zone of a drunk driver.
While negligent drivers aren’t as immediately dangerous as drunk drivers, they still pose a risk. Drivers who repeatedly check their phones or engage in other distracting behavior are essentially putting a mini-blindfold on. Given that motorcycles can already be tricky for some motorists to spot, negligent drivers are also unlikely to see you until it’s too late. As noted above, taking the long route can save you from a potentially serious crash.
Motorcycles approach braking very differently than cars do. While you would think that being smaller and more compact than a passenger car would make for a shorter braking distance, this isn’t generally the case. Motorcycles often need more space to slow down than cars do. Expert motorcycle drivers can go from 45mph to a complete stop at around ~67 feet. That’s close to the braking distance of your average 4-door car, and it’s worth noting that most motorcycle riders are not going to be braking like experts.
Additionally, motorcycles don’t have engine space in front of them in the same way that cars do. While the front bumper of a vehicle can absorb impacts, motorcycles aren’t able to do that. This means that colliding into something at even “slow” speeds can be fatal.
Giving yourself a generous braking distance is vital in avoiding accidents. By paying attention to the road and being prepared to stop long before you need to, you can avoid being in a situation where you need to stop your vehicle and don’t have enough space to do so.
If there’s one theme that constantly pops up in discussions about motorcycle safety, it’s the need to drive at a safe, manageable speed. Doing so is the single most effective way to prevent yourself from sustaining a personal motorcycle injury. Speeding limits your ability to drive responsibly. In addition to limiting the time you have to respond to traffic, it also increases your braking distance and makes sharper turns riskier. When riding a motorcycle in Atlanta, this can make a huge difference.
Regardless of how safe you are, however, there’s always the chance of getting injured when riding a motorcycle. If that happens, you need an experienced motorcycle injury attorney on your side to ensure that you get all the resources required to recover.
As motorcycles offer limited protection to their riders, recovery from an Atlanta motorcycle injury can be an uphill battle. Victims of a motorcycle crash can face costs far beyond large hospital bills, including costs of physical therapy, physical rehabilitation, and trauma counseling. Motorcycle personal injuries like paralysis can be life-long considerations that seriously impact your ability to work.
Having an Atlanta personal injury lawyer on your side goes a long way in helping you recover. An affordable personal injury lawyer will fight to make sure that any at-fault parties adequately compensate you and that you’re able to cover any medical expenses that your Atlanta motorcycle accident may incur.
Michael M. Day Law Firm has represented more than 5,000 personal injury clients. We have a wealth of experience fighting for motorcycle accident victims, and we don’t rest until you get the settlement you deserve. With clients across Georgia, including Atlanta and Savannah, you can trust us to make a difference in your case. Contact us today to see how we can help clients put their auto accidents in the rearview mirror.