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7 Common Motorcycle Crashes and How to Avoid Them

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Clearwater, Florida

Everyone knows that riding a motorcycle can be an extremely dangerous mode of transportation. But it’s also a lot of fun. That’s why people do it.

There are a few basic things every rider knows to do in order to stay safe on their cruiser, sports bike, or touring motorcycle. The first rule is to always wear protective gear. Helmets really do save lives. Don’t believe me? Check out this article on their effectiveness. Ill also provide a link to an article about the different types of motorcycle helmets. Besides just protecting your head, there is a lot of other valuable parts south of the neck. Wearing protective gloves, jackets, pants, suits, boots, etc. can greatly reduce your risk of being injured. Because, chances are, you will come off your bike at some point. Just like it is inevitable that someone in a car will get into a fender bender, if you ride a motorcycle long enough, you will probably be falling off at least once.

Taking a motorcycle safety course is a valuable way to spend your time and money, as well. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers courses all over the country, from basic beginner classes required to get a license, all the way up to more advanced courses that teach riders evasive movements and how to spot a potential collision. Visit the MSF website for more information.

Constantly training your body and brain, while also educating yourself, is a great way to keep safe. Here are seven common types of motorcycle crashes and what you can do to avoid them.


A Car Turns Left In Front Of You

The most common motorcycle accident happens when a car makes a left-hand turn in front of you. This is the single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists, accounting for 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car. Usually, the turning car strikes the motorcycle when the motorcycle is:

  • going straight through an intersection
  • passing the car
  • trying to overtake the car

This type of accident is common between two regular cars as well, however a motorcycles’ size and lack of protection makes these accidents much more dangerous for riders.

When a vehicle hits another vehicle while making a left-hand turn, they will mostly likely be found at fault for the accident. However, if the motorcyclist was breaking some law or driving in an unsafe way, than that may not be the case.

How to Avoid It

In order to avoid this accident, as is the case with most situations, you need to be able to anticipate the other drivers’ next move. This is the best way to stay safe, apart from riding in a safe manner and wearing your protective gear.

Look for indicators that someone may be about to turn in front of you. For example:

  • A car is at an intersection waiting to turn.
  • There’s a gap in the traffic in front of you while someone is waiting to go.
  • They do a last-second “look both ways” head-maneuver.

If you notice anything like this, which you should definitely be looking out for, begin to slow down. Move over to the outside most lane away from the car and prepare to brake or take evasive action. Even if you cannot see a car waiting to turn, you should assume that a reasonable gap in front of you will invite another driver to pull out. It is a proven fact that, psychologically, car drivers are not looking for motorcyclists. They have trained their brains to only look for large vehicles because that is what they’re driving. Combine this with the fact that motorcyclists can be hard to see and you have a dangerous situation.

Also, try to make eye contact with the other driver. If they see you looking at themand you see them looking at you—there is a good chance they know you are there and will not pull out. Also, check for things obstructing their view; notice which way their tires are pointing; notice if they’re actively observing all traffic around them or looking down at their phone.

As with all other defensive driving techniques mentioned here forth, you should be aware of what is going on around you during any situation. Know where all the other cars on the road are; where you could go to get out of the way, if necessary; and if there are any other hazards coming up like a stop signal or turn.


A Car Comes into Your Lane

In this situation, a car begins to merge over into your lane while they’re right next to you. This happens when you’re riding on a four-lane road next to a car that is not paying enough attention or cannot see you. Motorcycles are easily obstructed in the blind spots of a driver’s car.

How to Avoid It

Have you ever seen the sticker on a semi-truck that says, “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you”? Well, that is how blind spots work. You should be able to see the cars mirrors, and more specifically, the face of the driver; this means they can probably see you. If you are in a blind spot, speed up or slow down to get out of it.

Obviously, you cannot always notice or be sure if you’re in a blind spot or if the other driver sees you, so look for signs that a car is changing lanes:

  • turn signals come on
  • wheels begin to turn
  • the driver begins to check their mirrors
  • the driver swivels their head ( an indication they’re checking their blind spots)
  • As with all these tips, be proactive, observant, and a defensive driver.


Head-On Collisions

Crashes involving a motorcycle and another vehicle account for 56% of deaths from motorcycle accidents. 78% of the time, these accidents happen when the car strikes the motorcycle head-on. Unsurprisingly, head-on collisions between a motorcycle and a car are often fatal for the motorcyclist. Depending on the speed, if a motorcycle comes to an abrupt stop in a split second, the driver will be either crushed or catapulted through the air and likely into some hard surface.

How to Avoid It

The National Safety Council recommends the “Four Rs” when trying to avoid a head-on collision:

  • Read the road ahead
  • Drive to the Right
  • Reduce your speed
  • Ride off the road

Reading the road ahead is the same proactive and defensive tactics we have been discussing. Always be in the act of scanning the road in front of you while observing the hazards around you.

Driving to the right implies that, if possible, be in the right-hand lane. If you are on a two-lane road, keep to the outside of the lane. This will put you on the right side of the lane and safer from head on collisions (and accidental lane changes).

Reduce your speed if you notice the other car swerving or not paying attention. Bringing you speed down by 30, 20, or even just 10 MPH can make a big difference between life and death.

Finally, riding off the road means you slow down and merge into the shoulder or grass to your right in order to avoid the head-on collision. This is another reason that riding to the right-side can be so helpful.


Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Lane splitting occurs when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles, usually at a traffic light or in traffic congestion. Lane splitting is a common cause of motorcycle accidents due to several factors:

  • the close proximity of the car and the motorcycle
  • the reduced space the motorcycle has to maneuver
  • cars don’t anticipate that anybody will be passing them in slowed or stopped traffic
  • cars don’t lane split, so drivers aren’t expecting it

If an accident occurs while a motorcycle is lane splitting, whether the motorcycle or car is at fault depends on whether lane splitting is permissible in that state. In Florida, lane splitting is illegal, which would make any accident that happens in this way, the rider’s fault. However, it is a common accident-type, and despite its illegality, it does still happen. For more information on lane spitting and the law, read this article.

How to Avoid It

In Florida, the simple answer is, don’t lane split. It’s illegal for a reason: it’s mostly unsafe and unnecessary. It also tends to upset other drivers who do have sit in the traffic. However, if you do lane split, make sure there is enough room for you to safely get through without hitting anyone’s car or side-view mirrors. Look for gaps in the stopped cars, as this is a sure sign that another car is trying to merge into the next lane. Also, follow the tips mentioned above, like observing head movement, the direction of the tires, and turn signals.


Riding Under the Influence

Thirty percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents in 2014 involved a rider with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 percent. In motorcycle crashes involving just the rider, this was 43 percent. Like it or not, alcohol plays a large roll in motorcycle crashes. This is most likely from the social nature of bike riding, which often involves going to restaurants or local hang outs to socialize.

I’m sure it isn’t news, but motorcycles don’t provide much protection to their rider. Crashes involving alcohol are much more likely to result in death or serious injury, usually for the person on the motorcycle.

How to Avoid It

Don’t drink and ride. When you go from bar to bar or hang out to hang out, limit yourself to one beer or drink per hour. Stop at three drinks. If this doesn’t sound like your ideal night, ride with everyone to the location then plan to leave the bike there and get home some other way. Uber and Lyft rideshare apps are awesome ways to get home on the cheap.


Taking a Corner Too Fast or Slipping Out

Corners can be dangerous for those riding motorcycles. Although motorcycles tend to have a lot of control by design, it can be difficult to compensate or correct, especially in a turn. While taking a corner, you may come across a patch of sand, gravel, leaves, water, etc. Once your front tire hits this material and loses traction, it’s easy to wipe out. Another similar way to wipe out on a turn is to misjudge how tight it is, causing you to take the turn too fast. This is common in twisting roads, especially with elevation changes, since it can be hard to see what’s coming next.

How to Avoid It

Ride at a speed where you will have time to react when you see a tight corner or a hazard in a corner. “Slow In, Fast Out” is an effective rule of thumb. Enter a corner wide and slowly to increase your field of vision. Once you are sure you can handle the turn and there are no hazards, you can speed up and out of the corner.

Pay attention to road signs. Familiarize yourself with the different types that indicate turns or up-ahead hazards. Also, be aware that debris builds up in certain areas of the roadway. Anywhere that tires don’t touch often, like shoulders or sliver-shaped areas in a turn, can collect gravel or other small particles as tired push the material to that area. Have you ever noticed that triangle-shaped area of debris at an intersection? This is exactly what causes it and it can be slick.

Some riding websites mention advanced techniques for how to take a turn while going fast, but staying slow and careful is the best way by far. Only ride as fast as you can see and as fast as you are comfortable with.

If you do accidently take a turn too quick, don’t panic or you will end up straightening out and going off the road—or worse, into the oncoming lane. Stay calm. Trust your bike and lean into the turn. Keep your line-of-sight ahead of the turn; your hands will follow your eyes. Your bike is also more capable of taking a turn than you may be. Do not slam on the brakes; this may cause a loss of traction or throw you off. Stay calm and ride it out.


Need for Speed

Lots of different people buy motorcycles for lots of different reasons. But two of the most common reasons are their cost effectiveness and their ability to go fast. The first reason is not nearly as dangerous as the second. In 2014, 33 percent of all motorcycle riders who died in crashes were speeding.

High-performance motorcycles, although comprising a small portion of the overall number of motorcycles on the road, account for a disproportionate number of motorcycle accidents. These motorcycles are lightweight and can go extremely fast—some up to 160 mph or more. Most sport bike riders are also under the age of 30, which makes it even more dangerous since younger people are statistically less safe drivers.

The accident death rate among riders of sports motorcycles is two to four times that of riders of conventional motorcycles, like cruisers and touring motorcycles. (Depending on the type of sports bike).

How to Avoid It

Operate your motorcycle at a safe speed. Do the speed limit. Motorcycles can still be a lot of fun, even if you follow the law. Go find a place that is interesting to ride. Find roads with lots of turns and elevation changes to increase the thrill. If you need to satisfy that need for speed, look on the internet for a special speed parks that allow riders to safely go fast on a closed course. You could also find somewhere that conducts legal drag racing for motorcycles.

Dolman Law Group

Dolman Law Group is an experienced motorcycle accident law firm that has successfully won substantial amounts for victims of motorcycle crashes. Do not assume anything about your accident or fault. Instead call Dolman Law Group, who will investigate every aspect of the crash including a virtual reconstruction if necessary. We will determine the real liability in the case.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, call Dolman Law for a free evaluation of your case. You may be entitled to a cash settlement for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Call today at 727-451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900

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