Riding a motorcycle can be very dangerous. If you get in almost any type of accident on a motorcycle you can expect some serious injuries and you could easily die. Of course, this danger and the thrill it generates is exactly what draws people to motorcycles in the first place.
Have Fun and Not Die
There are certain basic safety principles that anyone riding a motorcycle, sports bike, or similar vehicle needs to follow. The first and most obvious is the use of protective gear. Wearing a helmet is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself on a motorcycle. If you’re wearing an appropriate helmet and you get in a motorcycle accident, your chances of suffering a brain injury will be decreased by 67%. Your chance of dying decreases by 40%.
Helmets are not the only form of protective gear that motorcyclists should consider. Protective pants, jackets, boots, and gloves can also significantly reduce a rider’s risk of injury in an accident. These forms of protective gear can really make a big difference in minor, low-speed motorcycle accidents.
Another guiding principle of motorcycle safety is training and education. All riders should seriously consider taking a motorcycle safety course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. These classes give invaluable information and training that go way beyond just the basic introduction course that is required to get a motorcycle license. They teach riders how to anticipate and avoid collisions and how to protect themselves when collisions do occur.
There are certain types of accidents that motorcycle riders are most vulnerable to. Below is a list of the most common types of motorcycle accidents and how they can be avoided.
Left Turn Motorcycle Accidents
A car or truck turning left across oncoming traffic presents the greatest danger to motorcycle riders. Left-turn accidents are the most common category of accidents involving motorcycles. Just over 42% of all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle making a left-hand turn. The collision with left-turning vehicles occurs most often when the motorcycle is going straight through an intersection in the opposite direction. Drivers often do not notice motorcycles coming towards them because they present a different visual profile compared to cars and trucks.
These types of accidents can be particularly hazardous for the motorcycle rider who has no protection from the sudden and violent impact. In most cases, the vehicle making the left turn will be found at-fault for the accident. But the outcome may be different if the motorcycle was illegally passing or otherwise violating traffic rules at the time of the accident.
Avoiding Left Turn Motorcycle Collisions
The key to avoiding left turn motorcycle accidents is anticipation. The motorcycle rider needs to be able to anticipate the vehicle turning left into their path. This enables the rider to react sooner and avoid the collision. There are certain key indicators to help anticipate a car turning left in front of your motorcycle.
- Car is waiting to turn at the intersection (this one is pretty obvious)
- You are at the front of a gap in traffic on a 2-way road in which left turns are made.
- The car driver appears to be looking for an opening
Any of these indicators of a possible left turn should prompt the motorcycle rider to take defensive actions. The rider should slow down and move to the outside portion of the lane farthest away from the turning car. The motorcycle rider should also be prepared to break suddenly if necessary. Even if there is no car in sight that appears to be waiting to turn, motorcycle riders should assume that traffic gaps in front of them will invite attempts to turn from unseen vehicles. Remember, car drivers may not notice motorcycle riders even if they are directly in their line of vision. They are mentally programmed to look for and react to larger vehicles.
Making eye contact with other drivers (if possible) can be a good way of ensuring that they notice you. It is also important to remain alert for things that could be obstructing their line of sight. Other things to look out for are the direction that the vehicle’s tires are pointing and whether the driver appears to be alert and paying attention.
Lane Changing Motorcycle Accidents
Another very common type of motorcycle accident involves lane changing. This is when a car on a multi-lane road or highway changes from one lane to another and hits the motorcycle in the adjacent lane. This happens with high frequency because motorcycles have a smaller visual profile and can easily go unnoticed in a driver’s blind spot.
Avoiding Lane Changing Motorcycle Accidents
One of the most effective ways for motorcycle riders to avoid getting hit when cars make lane changes is to stay out of the car’s blind spots. If you can’t see the driver’s face in the mirror or you can’t see the car’s rear-view mirrors at all, then you’re in that driver’s blind spot and they can’t see you either. Motorcycle riders should be careful to stay out of blind spots as much as possible. Another strategy for avoiding lane changing accidents is to look for signs that the driver is looking to change lanes, these can include:
- Turn signals (obviously)
- Turning wheels
- Driving body language
- Tailgating car in front of them
Head-On Collision Motorcycle Accidents
Head-on collisions are the most dangerous of types of motorcycle accidents. Although head-on accidents account for only a small percentage of all motorcycle accidents in total, they cause over 50% of motorcycle accident fatalities.
Avoiding Head-On Motorcycle Accidents
There is a list of safety tips for avoiding head-on collisions that the National Safety Council refers to as the “Four Rs”:
- Read the road in front of you
- Driver on the Right
- Reduce speed
- Ride of the road
Reading the road in front of you simply means to pay attention and remain proactive in looking for oncoming dangers. Drive to the right is a sound strategy that suggests that motorcycle riders always ride in the right-hand lane and/or on the right side of a single lane to be as far as possible from opposite direction traffic. Ride off the road advises motorcycle riders to slow down and bail out on the shoulder or grass on the side of the road if necessary to avoid an oncoming collision.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Miller & Zois
If you cannot avoid an accident on your motorcycle and end up seriously injured, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault driver. Contact the Maryland motorcycle accident lawyers at Miller & Zois for a free consultation.