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What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcycle Crash Statistics

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 5,172 motorcyclists and passengers died in crashes in 2017, and motorcyclists represented 14% of all 2017 traffic fatalities. This is despite the fact that motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles in the US and only 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the US. In fact, motorcycle rider and passenger fatalities have more than doubled since 1997.

Motorcycle accidents are unfortunately all too common. Due largely to the exposed nature of motorcyclists, these accidents also tend to be very serious. With this in mind, it is important to be aware of the common causes of motorcycle accidents and how you can avoid them.

The most common causes of motorcycle accidents in the US are:

  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Speeding & reckless driving
  • Lane splitting
  • Left-hand turn accidents
  • Sudden stops & rear-end accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Collisions with objects (such as telephone poles)
  • Dangerous road conditions, road hazards, & bad weather
  • Mechanical problems
  • Other vehicles

Safety Precautions Motorcyclists Can Take to Help Avoid Accidents

While you may not be able to control other motorists, there are things you can do as a motorcyclist to protect yourself and avoid injury. One of the best things you can do as a motorcyclist to keep yourself safe is to be aware of the hazards you face as a rider. From being aware of road hazards to learning more about personal motorcycle safety, preparation is key.

Keep reading for three motorcycle safety tips that can help you avoid injury.

Ride Responsibly

One of the top causes of motorcycle accidents is riding while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Never ride your motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even small amounts of alcohol can harm your ability to respond to sudden road hazards. Always have a backup plan for getting home in case you are in a position where you are impaired and unable to drive yourself.

Similarly, avoid driving when you are tired. Being tired can seriously impact your ability to respond to road hazards. Furthermore, you want to avoid falling asleep while driving. If you are too tired, call a friend or family member for a ride. Or, call a cab or utilize a ride-sharing app, like Uber or Lyft. It is always better to pick up your motorcycle the next day than to risk getting in a serious accident.

Avoid Riding in Bad Weather

Rain, snow, ice, and high winds can be particularly hazardous to motorcyclists. Because motorcycles are less stable than cars and other vehicles, a strong gust of wind or ice on the road can throw a motorcyclist off balance. Meanwhile, snow and rain can seriously impair visibility. If the weather is bad, leave the bike at home.

If you have to ride in bad weather, reduce your speed and distance from other motorists. If you or another vehicle has to slam on their breaks, you need plenty of space to stop. Rain, snow, and ice can make quick stops difficult, and you may slide or drive into the car in front of you.

Similarly, never split lanes. Not only is splitting lanes illegal in Georgia, but it is even more dangerous in bad weather where visibility is low, and road conditions are bad. If you get in an accident while splitting lanes, you may be held legally liable.

Keep Up with Your Motorcycle Maintenance

It may be surprising, but keeping your motorcycle in good condition can help you avoid an accident. In addition to scheduling regular tune-ups and oil changes, check your bike before heading out each time. Make sure all indicator lights, headlights, and brake lights are working. If you notice any mechanical issues or problems with your bike, have them fixed before going out for a ride.

It is equally important that you keep your motorcycle gear in good condition too. It is a good idea to invest in protective motorcycle gear, such as riding jackets and jumpsuits designed to protect you in an accident. Additionally, always wear your helmet while riding. A full-face helmet is best, and make sure it fits well. Helmets should be replaced every five years.