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What Common Road Hazards Cause Motorcycle Accidents?

Published on Mar 18, 2022 at 2:46 pm in Motorcycle Accidents.


When you first decided to purchase or operate a motorcycle, you likely received a lot of feedback from others expressing concern over your decision. They probably tried to give you advice that you were already planning to implement, such as always wearing a helmet, notifying other motorists of your plans to turn by making hand gestures, and protecting your limbs by keeping them covered.

While the idea of you taking proactive measures to keep yourself safe is always a good measure to implement, it doesn’t fully protect you from all the dangers that you face on the road, including the ones described below.

Motorcyclists’ Biggest Obstacles Are Other Motorists

The most significant hazard that motorcycle riders have to contend with is passenger car drivers. A groundbreaking study, the Hurt Report, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1981, chronicled how at least 75% of all motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Of those incidents, Rideshare notes that 76% of them involve a motorist striking a motorcyclist in a front-end collision. Why do these incidents occur? It has to do with visibility and gauging time.

Motorists will often tell responding police officers that they didn’t see a motorcyclist before they crashed into a motorcycle at an intersection or when changing lanes. Over the years, traffic safety analysts have theorized why motorists often say this. They’ve determined that these comments are likely attributable to the narrowness of the motorcycle’s body (compared to cars).

Drivers often register that a motorcycle is approaching too late for them to take evasive action to avoid causing a crash. Passenger car drivers also often report not seeing motorcyclists in an adjoining lane, leading them to think the path is clear to merge when it really isn’t.

A lack of visibility or bad timing may result in a motorist doing the following, causing the motorcyclist’s injuries:

  • Pulling out of a parking lot or driveway in front of them
  • Changing lanes, cutting them off
  • Opening the car door in their path
  • Crashing into the rear of the motorbike
  • Turning in front of or into them

This insight has motivated traffic safety analysts to identify ways in which motorcyclists can make themselves more visible to motorists to minimize their chances of becoming entangled in a collision. Three approaches to doing so include:

Wearing high visibility clothing: The authors of a study previously published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) determined that motorcyclists’ use of high visibility clothing featuring reflective materials or brightly colored hues decreases their chance of being struck by 37%.

Using headlights: A headlamp can call motorists’ attention to the fact that you’re approaching, especially if it’s dark or there’s inclement weather. Since motorists will likely only see a shadow if you’re far away and the light will brighten as you near, this will aid them in gauging how far away you are. Some safety analysts even recommend that you carry a spare light bulb and tools necessary to change it with you on your bike to ensure that you never go without it.

Weaving within the lane a bit: Motorists tend to lose sight of bicyclists and motorcyclists. While changing lanes in a slight diagonal so that the broad portion of your bike is visible can aid in a motorist seeing you, there is one more thing that you can do for enhanced visibility. Try sweeping the lane you’re in every so often to ensure that you remain ever-present in nearby motorists’ minds.

Distractions, fatigue, and intoxication can all affect a motorist’s ability to notice you or make sound judgment calls necessary to keep you safe. Reckless driving may impact response times, leaving you vulnerable to getting hit too.

While the prospect of a motorist striking you is undoubtedly a hazard you must concern yourself with as a motorcyclist, it’s not the only one you need to be wary of.

Roadway Hazards Are a Big Concern for Motorcyclists

Motorcycles aren’t built with the capacity to withstand changes in surfaces like vehicles can with their onboard shock and suspension system. One example of a situation that often worries motorcyclists is approaching a bridge. They worry about how wide its bridge joint will be, as the wider it is, the more challenging it tends to be for a rider to cross it successfully.

A similar concern arises with railroad tracks. Not only are the materials used to construct the tracks often slippery in inclement weather, but motorcycle tires are just the right size to become trapped between the railroad ties, leaving motorcyclists vulnerable to being struck by a train.

Other roadway concerns that can be hazardous for motorcyclists include:

  • Uneven pavement due to construction
  • Speed bumps in parking lots
  • Potholes
  • Humps created by overweight trucks
  • Roadway joints

Anything on the roadway, such as gravel, rain, oils, snow, and ice, can make it challenging for a motorcyclist to control their bike, including stopping it.

There’s also an added danger of road or construction debris, such as blown tires or wild animals entering the roadway. While any motorist would need to keep a watchful eye out for these, motorcyclists particularly need to, given how they don’t have the added protection of a shell around them as passenger car operators do.

After learning about how significantly road conditions may impact a motorcyclist’s safety, it may not come as a surprise that even debris like grass clippings and leaves can cause a motorcyclist to lose traction. Taking winding country roads or turns at a high rate of speed can also be hazardous.

Where To Turn When a Motorcycle Accident Has Left You Injured

No one plans to have an accident. Having to deal with a loss of your mode of transportation is bad. Dealing with significant injuries is even worse. Doing both of these can be time-consuming.

Your recovery process is likely to take up the majority of your time in the aftermath of a motorcycle crash. Our attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, have the know-how necessary to determine the liability required to hold any negligent parties accountable for your Charleston motorcycle crash. Let us advocate for you while you’re focusing on getting better.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice. Viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Prior case results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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