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What Are the Top Risks to Motorcyclists?

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Motorcycle on road at sunset

Motorcyclists face a higher risk of serious injuries or death when they are involved in collisions. In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported a total of 5,014 motorcycle accident fatalities, meaning that motorcyclists were 29 times more likely to be killed in a crash than other vehicle occupants. Understanding and exploring the top risks to motorcyclists might help you take steps to prevent being seriously injured in a crash.

The Top Risks to Motorcyclists

In 2016, the NHTSA released a safety facts sheet for motorcyclists based on data it had collected that year. The agency identified several top risks to motorcyclists in terms of their contribution to fatalities. During that year, the following contributing factors presented the greatest risk of motorcycle accident fatalities:

  • Colliding with another vehicle – 55 percent of all fatal crashes
  • Riders age 40 and older – 54 percent of fatalities
  • Not wearing a helmet – 41 percent of fatalities
  • Speeding – 33 percent of fatalities
  • Alcohol impairment – 25 percent of fatalities
  • Colliding with a fixed object – 23 percent of fatalities

Please note that these numbers add up to more than 100 percent because some collisions involved more than one factor.

Issues Unique to Motorcyclists

Several issues are unique to motorcyclists, making them more likely to be involved in a collision when compared with other drivers. You should keep these issues in mind whenever you ride:

  • More Difficult to See: Since motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, they can be overlooked or obscured by the weather conditions and other vehicles. Many motorcycle accidents happen at intersections when motorists fail to notice oncoming bikes when turning left.
  • Road Hazards: Since motorcycles are balanced on two wheels instead of four, they are more likely to be involved in crashes caused by road hazards, including road debris, oil, potholes, puddles, railroad tracks, and uneven pavement.
  • Stability at Higher Speeds: A motorcycle’s front end can become unstable at higher speeds, causing it to wobble. When this occurs due to a misalignment of the tires, the manufacturer might be liable for accident-related injuries and losses.
  • Riding Skills: Operating a motorcycle requires greater coordination and skill than operating a car. If a rider is inexperienced, they might be more prone to being involved in a crash.

How to Remain Safe

There are several things that you can do to reduce your risk of suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle wreck. First, you should always wear the proper gear, including a helmet, motorcycle boots, gloves, jacket, and a face shield. Wearing the proper gear every time you ride can help to protect you in a collision.

You should also choose a motorcycle that fits you. When you sit on your motorcycle, both of your feet should easily rest flat on the ground, and the handlebars should also be easily reachable. Do not purchase more bike than you are capable of handling.

Next, choose a bike that comes with antilock brakes, or consider adding them to your existing bike. Antilock brakes can help to reduce your chances of being involved in a fatal motorcycle crash.

In addition, consider taking a motorcycle safety class. The Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program offers motorcycle safety courses at 31 locations throughout the state. Taking this course can help you hone your skills and enhance your safety.

You should also always be on the alert whenever you ride. Watch for vehicles that might suddenly change lanes and those on side streets that are preparing to turn left onto the road in front of you. Avoid tailgating other vehicles so you have enough time to react if they suddenly slow down.

Try to avoid riding your motorcycle during inclement weather. When it rains, your visibility will be reduced, and your tires will not grip the road as well. If it’s windy, try riding on the side of the lane from where the wind is coming so it won’t blow you into the other lane.

Finally, always be on the lookout for road hazards, including wet leaves, sand, potholes, and other hazards that could cause your bike to slide. When you see these types of hazards, try to take evasive maneuvers to avoid them, or slow down if they cannot be avoided.

Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave

Even when you operate your motorcycle cautiously, it might not be possible to avoid every crash. If another motorist causes a motorcycle crash that seriously injures you, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your losses. Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave for a free consultation by calling 417-322-2222.

Files under: Personal Injury