What Are the Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
There are many reasons why auto accidents happen. Motorcycles, being smaller and harder to see, can be more likely to get hit. Motorcycle riders also have far less protection than motor vehicle occupants in an accident. Drivers and passengers the protection of a steel frame designed to divert the force of impact away from the passenger compartment. Inside the vehicle, they have the additional protection of seat belts and airbags.
Motorcycle riders have none of this critical protection. Often, their helmets are the only protection they have from the full force of a serious collision. This is why it is so important for motorcycle riders to understand the causes of accidents and ride as safely as possible. If you suffered injuries due to a negligent driver while on your motorcycle, you have important legal rights.
You need to determine the specific cause of your motorcycle crash so you know who to hold accountable for your injuries and losses. You want to allow a motorcycle accident attorney to evaluate what happened and who should be liable. The attorney can then take steps to seek financial recovery for your losses.
As cell phones and texting are now mainstream among nearly all Floridians, distracted driving has become a major public health crisis. Thousands of Florida road users sustain injuries every year by negligent drivers who are distracted by their mobile devices. Cell phones, tablets, smartwatches, navigation programs, and built-in entertainment systems are just some of the many things that tempt drivers to take their eyes off the road. This leads to serious injuries and not a few deaths.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that 299 people died due to distracted drivers in a recent year. Nearly three thousand more victims suffered serious injuries due to distracted driving that year. These are troubling numbers to see when the problem is so preventable.
Part of the problem is the level of enforcement of Florida’s distracted driving laws. Studies have repeatedly found that communities that enforce traffic laws—such as seat belt use, red-light running, or speeding—see reductions in those same driving behaviors. But Florida’s enforcement of the distracted driving law has been uneven at best.
The Gainesville Sun reports that law enforcement rarely enforces Florida’s recent ban on texting and driving. Officers complain that the law has too many loopholes, which makes it difficult to issue citations. The state also failed to track how many tickets are issued statewide and whether police are targeting minorities with texting and driving citations—both of which were requirements the state legislature included with the law at the time of its passage. Until the government addresses these problems, the law may not effectively deter texting and driving.
Low visibility is a risk factor for any type of auto accident. Driving at night, or in foggy conditions, or during a rainstorm, or even during sunrise or sunset can all reduce a driver’s ability to see the traffic and road conditions surrounding them. This is a particular problem for motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are already difficult for drivers to see because they are smaller and darker than passenger vehicles.
This problem becomes worse when any other conditions make it difficult for drivers to see other vehicles on the road. Motorcycle riders must be especially cautious when riding at night or during inclement weather. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing, if possible. Use your horn and light to alert other road users to your presence. Signal your turns well in advance, and do not make any sudden lane changes. These simple steps can help ensure that drivers see you.
Speeding is a major cause of fatal accidents. Bankrate reports that there was a four-percent increase in fatal crashes caused by speeding over a recent two-year period. This means that over ten thousand victims lost their lives on the roads of the United States because of speeding in one year alone. Speed-related crashes also cause over $40 billion in damages every year. Speed is also a contributing factor in almost thirty percent of the fatal crashes in the United States annually.
But why is speeding so closely linked with fatalities? Speed increases the forces generated in a collision. This means that there is a greater mechanism of injury, and the injuries victims sustain are more likely to be serious—or even fatal. Speed also reduces the amount of time a driver has to react to an obstacle in the road. This reduces a driver’s ability to avoid a collision. All of these problems lead to accidents that are far more dangerous for motorcycle riders than occupants of passenger vehicles.
Always make sure your speed is reasonable under the present conditions. At night and other times of limited visibility, you may need to slow down to give yourself plenty of time to react to hidden dangers in the road. You will also need to slow down when it is raining or the road is wet due to spills. Any time the current conditions make it more difficult to see obstacles and stop in time to avoid them, you have a legal obligation to reduce your speed accordingly.
Poor Road Conditions
Motorcycle riders are also more vulnerable to poor road conditions. Potholes, uneven surfaces, and even minor cracks can cause a rider to lose his or her balance. While passenger vehicles have stability, traction, and other added safety features, motorcycle riders are left to feel every dip and crack in the road surface. Be prepared for these conditions. Reduce your speed and watch carefully for poor roadway conditions ahead. Even experienced riders can have difficulty navigating a rough road, so do not become overconfident in your skills. Respect the road regardless of your level of experience.
Inexperienced drivers don’t always know they need to look for motorcycles. Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, and new drivers may not see them in rear-view or side-view mirrors.
Motorcycles stop faster than other vehicles, and inexperienced drivers may follow them too closely, increasing the chances of a rear-end accident. In a car, this could produce a fender-bender with no medical or property damage. Striking a motorcycle from behind can cause the rider road rash, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.
A good motorcycle accident lawyer will take into account the driver’s experience level when assigning liability for your injuries.
Impaired driving is a problem for all road users. Drunk driving has long been the target of ad campaigns and advocacy across the country. Despite this, the CDC reports that 8,476 people died due to drunk drivers in Florida over a decade.
Florida was above the national average in death rates across all age groups (except ages zero through twenty). Florida was above the national average in death rates for both men and women, and the number of drivers who reported driving after drinking too much was also higher in Florida than the national average.
These statistics show the scope of the drunk driving problem here in Florida. Our state seems to bear a higher risk of drunk driving fatalities than the rest of the nation—where drunk driving is still responsible for about one out of every three road deaths.
Unfortunately, alcohol is not the only substance that can impair the ability to operate a motor vehicle. The opioid epidemic has also led to an increase in drugged driving cases. Street drugs and illegal prescription medications also cause drugged driving accidents. Even legal substances can impair someone’s ability to drive safely.
Medical marijuana is available lawfully in our state, but if a driver takes too much, it can prevent them from driving safely. This is illegal (even if their possession of medical marijuana is legal). The same thing can occur with prescription medications. Even if someone takes medication as directed, it could impair their ability to drive.
The fact that a doctor prescribed the medication to a person will not prevent criminal charges. It also will not prevent them from being at fault for causing an accident. If they are found negligent, their insurance company will have to pay for the accident and your injuries, and their rates are likely to go up as a result. They could even face a civil lawsuit by you or another injury victim.
Drivers and motorcycle riders can avoid all of these consequences by simply not operating a vehicle when they might be under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. With the wide availability of Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services, it is possible to get a ride on demand almost anywhere at any time. Using these services can save lives.
Defective Bikes and Parts
Consumers in the United States have protections under strict consumer protection laws. These laws hold manufacturers “strictly liable” for any defects in the design or manufacture of their products. (Strict liability means that the consumer does not have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent—only that the product was defective.)
Strict liability is a serious concern for all auto manufacturers. If their products are defective, they can cause accidents that injure and kill thousands of victims all across the country. This is why many manufacturers will voluntarily pay for expensive recalls rather than litigate personal injury cases and expensive wrongful death claims.
Vehicle recalls can apply to motorcycles, as well, and all their parts. Be sure to take your bike to an authorized repair shop as soon as you learn of an open recall on any of its components. If there has not yet been a recall issued, it is still possible to prove that a defect existed and hold the manufacturer strictly liable for the injuries you suffered.
Find an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you believe that a negligent driver or a defective motorcycle contributed to your crash and injuries, it is important to have the right legal assistance as soon as possible. Often, insurance companies do not view motorcyclists favorably due to the increased injury risks. However, if someone else caused your injuries, you deserve the full compensation the law entitles you to.
You want a legal advocate who will stand up to insurance companies and protect your rights. Many attorneys will profess to help, so seek out free consultations to determine which law firm you feel most comfortable with. Do not delay in starting this process as soon as your physical condition stabilizes.