7 Common Motorcycle Crashes and How to Avoid Them

June 22, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
7 Common Motorcycle Crashes and How to Avoid Them After a motorcycle accident, victims are often left with painful injuries, substantial medical bills, and even lost wages. All it takes for a motorcyclist to experience life-threatening injuries is for one driver to make a reckless decision like switching lanes without looking. If you or a loved one has suffered from a motorcycle accident, let Dolman Law Group take the legal burden of taking on a motorcycle accident lawsuit off your shoulders while you focus on recovering. Learn more about common motorcycle crashes and how to avoid them. After being involved in a motorcycle accident, you should consider hiring a motorcycle accident lawyer. With offices located throughout Florida, including Clearwater, North Miami, Tampa, and Boca Raton, Dolman Law is there wherever you may need us. Dolman Law Group's motorcycle accident attorneys offer in-person consultations in the office, at your home, or even in your hospital room. You can reach us by phone anytime at (727) 451-6900.

How to Stay Safe While Riding a Motorcycle

Everyone knows that riding a motorcycle can be an extremely dangerous mode of transportation. There are a few basic tips every motorcyclist needs to know so they can stay safe on their motorcycle. For starters, helmets really do save lives and they prevent serious motorcycle accident injuries. According to the IIHS, helmets are roughly 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. Besides just wearing a helmet, there are a lot of other valuable parts south of the neck that can benefit from protective gear. Wearing protective gloves, jackets, pants, suits, boots, etc. can greatly reduce your risk of suffering a serious motorcycle injury, such as road rash. Chances are, you will fall off your bike at some point so it is within your best interest to be prepared. 

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. Constantly training your body and brain, while also educating yourself, is a great way to keep safe.

7 of the Most Common Motorcycle Accidents

High-speed motorcycle accidents, sports bike wrecks, low-speed street bike accidents, and motorcycle head-on collisions are all examples of bad bike crashes you want to avoid. Unfortunately, preventing the worst motorcycle crashes is not always within your control. The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers who fail to recognize motorcyclists in their path.  Yet, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting into a bad motorcycle accident. 

1. Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Left-Turning Cars

The most common motorcycle accident happens when a car makes a left-hand turn in front of youThis 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, motorcycles' size and lack of protection make these accidents much more dangerous for ridersWhen a vehicle hits another vehicle while making a left-hand turnit will most likely be found at fault for the accident. However, if the motorcyclist was breaking some law or driving in an unsafe way, then that may not be the case.

How to Avoid a Left-Turn Motorcycle Crash

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 the usual defensive driving methods and wearing your protective gearLook 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 lane away from the car and prepare to brake or take evasive actionEven 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.

2. Lane-Switching Motorcycle Accidents

In this common motorcycle accident scenario, 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.

Avoiding a Motorcycle Accident Caused by Lane-Switching

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 car's 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:
  • Their turn signals come on
  • Their 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.

3. Head-On Collision Motorcycle Accidents

Crashes involving a motorcycle and another vehicle account for 56% of deaths from motorcycle accidents. 78% of the time, these accidents happen when a car strikes a motorcycle head-onUnsurprisingly, 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. This common motorcycle accident is the most fatal of all motorcycle crashes. When a car does hit a motorcycle head-on, both the motorcycle and the car are usually driving at fairly high speeds. Unfortunately, this means that the motorcyclist's chances of not surviving or at the very least getting seriously injured, increase dramatically.

How to Avoid a Head-On Motorcycle Accident

The National Safety Council (NSC) 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 that can cause a motorcycle accident.

Some other things you can do include:
  • 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, which will put you on the right side of the lane and be 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 to speed down by 30, 20, or even just 10 MPH can make a big difference between life and death.
  • Riding off the road means you slow down and merge into the shoulder or grass to your right in order to avoid a head-on collision. This is another reason that riding to the right side can be so helpful.

4. Motorcycle Lane Splitting Accidents

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. 

Avoiding Lane Splitting Accidents

In Florida, the simple answer is don't lane split. It's illegal for a reason because it is most often unsafe and unnecessary. 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 such as observing head movement, the direction of the tires, and turn signals.

5. Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Intoxication

Thirty percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents in 2014 involved a rider with a blood alcohol concentration at or above 0.08%. In motorcycle crashes involving just the rider, this was 43%. Alcohol plays a large role in motorcycle crashes. This is most likely due to the social nature of bike riding which often involves going to restaurants or local hangouts to socialize.

Motorcycles don't provide much protection to their rider. As such, crashes involving alcohol are much more likely to result in death or serious injury, usually for the person on the motorcycle.

How to Avoid a Motorcycle Crash Caused by Intoxication

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 and 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.

6. Corner-Turning Motorcycle Accidents

Corners can be dangerous for those riding motorcycles. Although motorcycles tend to have a lot of control by design, they can be difficult to compensate for or correct, especially in a turn. When 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 when taking 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. If a motorcyclist turns a corner too hard and crashes, they are at risk for even further injury from cars and other possible road hazards. For example, if a motorcyclist turns the corner of an intersection too hard and crashes, the multiple cars crossing the intersection may not react in time to avoid them, possibly furthering injury or even causing death.

How to Avoid a Corner-Turning Motorcycle Crash

The best way to avoid this common cause of motorcycle accidents is to ride at an appropriate speed. You want to travel at a speed where you will have time to react when you see a tight corner or a hazard coming

“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. Paying attention to road signs and familiarizing yourself with the different types of signs that indicate turns or up-ahead hazards can be of great help. 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.

What to Do if You Do Turn Your Bike Too Quickly

If you do accidentally make a turn too quickly do not slam on your brakes and do not panic. This could potentially cause you to overcorrect and go off the road—or worse, into the oncoming lane.

Stay calm, trust your bike, and lean into the turn while you keep your line of sight ahead of the turn. Your hands will follow your eyes. Motorcycles are more capable of handling a turn than you may be. Do not slam on the brakes; this may cause a loss of traction or throw you offStay calm and ride it out.

7. High-Speed Motorcycle Accidents

People buy motorcycles for a variety of reasons but two of the most common are their cost-effectiveness and their ability to go fast. The first reason is not nearly as dangerous as the second. In 2014, 33% 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. 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).

Avoiding High-Speed Motorcycle Accidents

To avoid this common motorcycle accident, operate your motorcycle at a safe speed. Go the speed limit, but 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 special speed parks that allow riders to safely go fast on a closed course.

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries You Can Include in a Claim

Many bikers suffer blows to the head in accidents that can cause permanent damage to the brain. These traumatic brain injuries can cause lifelong disability and easily ruin someone's career prospects and quality of life. All of this can occur simply because someone decides to forego wearing a helmet. It is legal to not wear a helmet in Florida so long as the motorcyclist is over the age of 21 and has insurance coverage. Other motorcycle accident injuries include:
  • Road rash: Motorcyclists can be thrown from their bikes in a crash and suffer road rash or road burn, as it is also known. This injury involves having the motorcyclist's exposed skin sheared away by the friction caused by being dragged along the asphalt at high speed.
  • Broken/fractured bones: Broken bones are common injuries in many accident types but can still cause significant damage. Motorcycle accidents can cause enough trauma that whole areas of the body have several bones broken at once and with enough severity that a person has permanent health issues.
  • Internal injuries: Motorcycle accidents can cause internal injuries which can vary widely. Depending on the area and the severity of the trauma, a person can deal with very different issues.
  • Spine Injuries: Damage to the back is common in motor vehicle accidents. Motorcycle accidents are no exception and can involve especially severe trauma to the back that can damage the spinal cord. Injury to the vertebrae or the spinal cord can lead to sensory problems and even paralysis.

Types of Damages in a Motorcycle Collision

Motorcycle injuries can result in permanent disability, chronic pain, and a significant decline in quality of life. These negative effects are also accompanied by a myriad of other consequences both economic and economic in nature that make up what are known as damages. The losses associated with a motorcycle accident are complex since it can take time to reveal the full extent of the total damages you have suffered. Understanding what damages you have suffered and calculating them accurately is integral when filing a motorcycle accident claim. Economic damages consist of direct financial losses like assorted bills and expenses that inevitably arise when you are injured. Non-economic damages comprise of intangible negative effects caused by a motorcycle. Despite non-economic damages not having an easily assigned dollar value they nonetheless are just as significant as their counterparts. The following are some of the more common damages in motorcycle accident cases.
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Loss of consortium
  • Reduced earning potential

Why Hire an Attorney After a Motorcycle Accident?

After suffering an injury from a motorcycle crash, hiring an attorney to represent you will protect your legal rights and manage the communications with insurance companies or other lawyers, on your behalf. This not only ensures that there is no incorrect information or errors made during your communication with these parties but gives you time to focus on healing from your injuries as well. Once an accident claim has been filed, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations on your behalf. Insurers or other parties must make all settlement offers through your attorney. Your attorney will then present you with the settlement offer and can advise you of your best course of action. In many accident cases, a settlement will be reached during this time. If a settlement cannot be reached and a lawsuit is necessary, your lawyer will be able to fight for you in court. Having expert legal representation is vital to a successful personal injury case. Your attorney will be at your side, investigating your accident, and ensuring you are not taken advantage of.

Contact Dolman Law's Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys Today

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 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.

We will investigate every aspect of the crash including a virtual reconstruction if necessary. We will determine the real liability in the case and what course of action is best for your motorcycle accident case in order to secure you the maximum compensation possible. Our motorcycle accident lawyers are here to help you after a serious motorcycle crash. 

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 Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900

*The above information was written and reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA which has a combined 90 plus years of experience practicing Florida personal injury law. Matthew Dolman himself has been practicing personal injury law in Clearwater and St. Petersburg for the last fifteen (15) years. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms throughout Florida.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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