Few feelings can match the thrill of languidly weaving your motorcycle through traffic on a half-empty freeway or cruising down a scenic byway on two turbocharged wheels. Motorcycle riders come from all over the world, but it still seems as if there is something uniquely American about the open road.
Ride with Caution
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are an all-too-common occurrence that can strike any rider at any time. As any auto accident attorney will tell you, it is crucial to wear personal protective equipment and take commonsense measures to protect yourself from hazards on the road. At the same time, it is impossible to completely eliminate the risks associated with riding a motorcycle.
In this article, we will discuss some sobering motorcycle accident statistics and talk a bit about the dangers inherent in motorcycle riding. We do not wish to scare you off the road. Rather, we wish to provide some context in the event that you need to file an auto accident claim. In many cases, motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the riders involved. To learn more about your options in the aftermath of an accident that results in injury or property damage, speak with a traffic accident lawyer who has years of experience with motorcycle accidents.
How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accidents occur with greater frequency than passenger car accidents. Motorcycle accidents that result in the death of a rider are five times more common than passenger car accidents that cause the death of a driver. For every 100,000 registered motorcycles, 72 are involved in a fatal crash during a given 12-month span. The comparable figure for passenger cars comes in at 13. Nearly one in seven fatal vehicle accidents resulted in the death of a motorcyclist. For context, just 3 percent of the country’s registered vehicles are motorcycles.
Death and Injury Rates
Motorcyclists ride less than passenger car drivers, so the rates at which they perish or become seriously injured are truly sobering. After accounting for miles traveled, a recent survey found that motorcyclists are 35 times more likely than car owners to die in road accidents. Although definitions of “serious injury” may vary between sources, it is a settled fact that motorcyclists tend to experience far higher rates of debilitating or permanent injury in road accidents.
While one in four motorcycle accidents was a single-vehicle crash in which a motorcyclist wiped out or hit a fixed object, one in two involved much larger passenger vehicles. Moreover, 78 percent of motorcyclists who collided with other vehicles did so in head-on fashion. Such accidents tend to be far more devastating than rear-end collisions. Passenger vehicles or trucks rear-ended motorcyclists in just 5 percent of all U.S. road accidents. These figures have important implications for car and truck drivers who might not be on the lookout for motorcyclists.
It should also be noted that motorcyclists tend to speed at higher rates than other drivers. Nearly 40 percent of all motorcycle crashes involved riders who were traveling too fast for conditions. Riders under the age of 40 are about twice as likely to die in accidents as their older peers.
Helmets and Other Safety Equipment
Although many riders remain resistant to helmet use, studies have conclusively proven that helmets and other forms of protective gear can have life-saving benefits during serious accidents. Riders who wear helmets are about 37 percent more likely to survive a serious accident than those who choose not to. Helmet users also sustain fewer concussions than non-users. Additionally, reinforced jackets and jeans can prevent dreaded “road rash,” a skin and muscle injury that can have permanent consequences.