Deaths in motorcycle crashes are over 30 times more common than other accidents. On average, over 5,000 people are killed on motorcycles each year and nearly 100,000 motorcyclists are injured. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 75 percent of motorcycle accidents lead to injury or death. As a motorcyclist, it is important to know the most common causes for motorcycle crashes, in order to keep yourself safe on the road:
1. Head-on collisions: Over half of motorcycle accidents result from head-on collisions. These are almost always fatal to the motorcyclist. This occurs when the front end of a car crashes with the front end of a motorcycle. Even if the accident is a near miss, a motorcyclist will likely lose control and crash trying to avoid the collision.
2. Intoxication: Alcohol is a contributing factor to a large percentage of motorcycle crashes. Over 30 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2014 involved a drunk motorcyclist. This number increased to almost 45 percent when the accident involved only the motorcycle rider. Researchers believe the comradery and good weather surrounding motorcycle riding tends to promote a drinking atmosphere.
3. Lane splitting: Lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle drives down the middle of two stopped or slowly moving lanes to get through traffic. This is illegal in many states, including Maryland, but many motorcyclists are unaware or continue to do it regardless. Because of people’s common tendencies to switch between lanes, this can be extremely dangerous to motorcyclists. Not only can motorcycles be hard to see, but they offer little protection to riders in the event of an accident.
4. Car doors: The next time you open your car door, remember to look in your mirror to see if a motorcycle is approaching. When a motorcycle hits a car door, it is common for the motorcyclist to flip over the car door and land in the street. Over 25 percent of motorcycle deaths result from collisions with fixed objects, and crashes with car doors can cause some of the most serious injuries.
5. Left turns: Left-hand turns can be dangerous for any motor vehicle, but especially motorcycles. Cars turning left can have a hard time seeing an oncoming motorcycle. In most cases, the vehicle making the left-hand turn will be at fault. However, motorcyclists have a high chance of injury or death when one of these accidents occurs.
Other common causes for motorcycle crashes can occur from speeding, unsafe motorcycles, and otherwise reckless driving. Nothing is more important than your safety. If you are a motorcycle rider, remember to follow the rules of the road and educate yourself on how to prevent these accidents from occurring.