Are Motorcycles Safe?
Now that spring is here along with warmer temperatures, more people are bringing their motorcycles out of the garage. Many love the feel of riding a motorcycle but it’s clear that in a motor vehicle crash, motorcyclists are a lot more vulnerable to injury than a driver protected by a car. For those considering getting a motorcycle, safety considerations should be made.
Are motorcycles safe?
Motorcycles are much less safe than motor vehicles for the following reasons:
- Motorcycles are more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle than a car or truck because they are not as visible to other drivers.
- Motorcycles are less stable than a vehicle on four wheels which makes them more likely to have a serious single-vehicle accident causing injury.
- To be a good motorcyclist, drivers need a different set of skills than those needed to operate a motor vehicle on four wheels so inexperienced drivers are at increased risk of accidents.
- Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to hazardous weather and road conditions than drivers in closed vehicles.
Motorcycle accident statistics
Data from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that there were 4,990 motorcyclist fatalities in 2017, a 5.6 percent drop over 2016. This was a reversal in the trend; according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were 5,029 motorcyclist fatalities in 2015 and 5,286 fatalities in 2016. In 2016, motorcyclists died at a rate 28 times higher than passenger car occupants in a crash per vehicle mile traveled.
Shockingly, motorcycle helmet use dropped from 71 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2017. Drivers can dramatically reduce their risk of a traumatic brain injury or death in a motorcycle accident by wearing a helmet.
Top 8 driver tips for motorcycle safety
- Over 50 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle and most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. This is often because motorists don’t see the motorcyclist so keep an eye out in warmer weather months when motorcycles are more likely to be on the road.
- Motorcycles often get hidden in a car’s blind spots or blocked by objects or backgrounds outside the car such as trees and fences. Don’t be surprised if a motorcycle feels like it has sneaked up on you.
- Motorcycles are small compared to trucks or cars so they may look farther away than they are in a side-view or rear-view mirror. It is best to assume that a motorcycle is closer than it appears.
- Don’t expect to see brake lights. Motorcyclists often slow down by downshifting or rolling off the throttle, which doesn’t activate the brake light. The solution here is to allow more following distance behind a motorcyclist and not to expect to see a brake light.
- If you see a motorcyclist adjusting position within a lane understand that he or she is often doing this to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Be patient.
- Be aware that turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, which means that if the rider forgets to turn them off after a turn or lane change, it will continue blinking past its usefulness. Until you see a motorcycle starting to turn don’t assume you know which direction it’s going.
- Motorcycles do have good maneuverability compared to trucks and cars, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect that they will always be able to dodge out of the way. Drivers should leave as much space between themselves and a motorcycle as they would a regular vehicle.
- Although the stopping distance for motorcycles is about the same as for cars, motorcycles have more difficulty stopping in slippery or wet conditions so drivers should allow longer braking distance.
If you have lost a loved one or been injured through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the justice and fair compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring, tireless and experienced wrongful death attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County and surrounding areas since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!