Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), only about 3% of vehicles registered in the United States are motorcycles, and their share of miles traveled is considerably lower, at less than 1%. Yet, motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic fatalities. In raw numbers, that’s about 5,000 motorcycle deaths each year; another 88,000 motorcyclists are injured on the road.

The numbers themselves may not be surprising, since motorcycles are commonly perceived to be more dangerous than cars and trucks. The vulnerability of a motorcyclist compared with the driver or passenger in a closed vehicle contributes significantly to the higher rates of injury and death.

However, the most common causes of this type of accident may not be what you expect. Annual data from the NHTSA reveals that:

  • Cars rear-ending motorcycles make up a very small percentage of motorcycle accidents
  • The vast majority of motorcycle accidents occur in clear or cloudy weather, not rain
  • More motorcycle crashes take place in the daylight than dark
  • Only about 1/3 of motorcycle fatalities occur at intersections

Though motorcycles are more susceptible to small obstacles such as potholes and debris in the road, these hazards also cause a very small percentage of accidents. And, the dated but comprehensive motorcycle safety study commonly referred to as “The Hurt Report” revealed that the median pre-crash motorcycle speed was just 29.8 miles per hour.

The Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Fatalities

More than half of fatal motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, usually a passenger vehicle. Across several consecutive years, 40% or more of fatal accidents involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle occurred when the other vehicle was making a left-hand turn. In many of these cases, the driver of the car or other vehicle simply hasn’t seen the motorcycle, and makes a left-hand turn in front of the oncoming bike.

Liability in Multi-Vehicle Motorcycle Accidents

Although a significant percentage of motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle accidents, the motorcyclist is often the victim in an accident involving another vehicle. Earlier data from the NHTSA showed that the motorcycle rider was either not at fault or less at fault than the other driver in about 80% of multi-vehicle crashes. A longer-term analysis by the Center for Urban Transportation Research placed the blame on the other driver about 60% of the time.

When a motorcyclist has been injured or killed through the fault of another driver, that driver may be liable for damages. Depending on the specifics of the case, those damages may include medical reimbursement, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.

Get Help after a Motorcycle Accident

The attorneys at Miller Kory Rowe LLP understand that the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident may be life-altering, and are committed to helping crash victims and their families obtain the compensation they deserve. Contact us today at (602) 461-8640 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

Miller has handled catastrophic motorcycle cases for over 30 years. Jeff Miller has been a motorcycle rider since 1991, when he began riding to border towns in Mexico with the Rancho Feliz Charitable Foundation.

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