Motorcycle accidents often result in more catastrophic injuries than other types of vehicle collisions. Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to serious injuries in an accident than passengers of other vehicles, such as fatal head and brain injuries and traumatic tattooing from road rash.
In 2014, there were 3,284 motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania. These accidents resulted in 186 deaths, where 93% were drivers and 7% were passengers. A motorcycle accident is one of the most frightening experiences imaginable. Drivers and motorcyclists can prevent these devastating crashes in the future by understanding and avoiding their common causes.
While many accidents result from a passenger vehicle’s driver’s distraction or inattention, a large percentage stem from motorcyclist negligence. It is every motorcyclist’s duty to obey the rules of the road, including keeping a safe driving distance from other vehicles and never driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Sadly, many motorcyclists ignore these rules and end up in fatal single-vehicle collisions.
Motorcyclist negligence can take the form of driving under the influence, speeding, running red lights or stop signs, failing to the yield right of way, lane-splitting on the highway, or riding too closely to other vehicles. In all of these scenarios, diligence on the motorcyclist’s part can potentially prevent an accident.
Motorcyclists need to know how to navigate the roadway, safely react to hazards, and adapt to conditions before hitting the road. They should also wear proper safety gear such as gloves, goggles, footwear, and helmets to prevent accidents relating to outside conditions.
In 2014, there were 10,550 alcohol-related crashes in Pennsylvania. Of these crashes, motorcyclists had the largest percentage of drinking drivers compared to other vehicle drivers. Motorcyclists made up 8.7% of the total number of drinking drivers – 293 motorcyclists who drove impaired and caused an accident that year. Motorcycling drunk is a recipe for disaster and can injure many more people than just the driver.
Another top cause of motorcycle accidents is the negligence of passenger vehicle drivers. Motorcycles can be more difficult to spot on the roadway than larger vehicles, calling for extra driver diligence when pulling out, changing lanes, and turning into intersections. Cutting off a motorcycle isn’t just an inconvenience for the smaller, typically faster vehicle – it can cause a deadly collision.
Every driver has a responsibility to reasonably ensure the safety of passengers, other drivers, and bystanders. This includes paying attention to the road, watching for motorcycles, and giving these vulnerable road users extra space to maneuver. If an obstacle in the roadway throws a motorcyclist off his or her bike, extra room can enable a driver to stop in time to avoid striking the rider. It can also prevent rear-end collisions, which can be deadly for a motorcyclist.
Hazardous Roadway Conditions
A motorcycle is more susceptible to dangerous roadway conditions than larger, heavier vehicles. While a passenger vehicle can roll over debris without issue, a tree branch or rubber tire in the road can cause a motorcycle to crash. Even loose rubble on the road can cause an accident, especially if the motorcyclist is taking a turn too fast.
It’s a motorcyclist’s duty to understand the potential hazards of the roadway and have the training to safely maneuver around them. They must also prepare for hazards such as rain, high winds, and bugs with the proper safety gear. Driving safely requires more diligence as a motorcyclist than a typical driver but staying out of harm’s way is worth the extra effort.
Motorcyclists and passenger vehicle drivers must take measures to ensure their own safe driving. With these common causes of motorcycle accidents in mind, drivers can take steps to avoid becoming just another crash statistic in Pennsylvania.