According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 14 percent of fatalities in all motor vehicle crashes are motorcycle occupants. Approximately 5,000 people on motorcycles are killed every year in the United States.
Motorcycle accidents are among the most dangerous accidents, because motorcycle occupants have comparatively little protection in a crash. With more than 4 million registered motorcycles in the United States, accidents do commonly occur. In this article, we will explain when most motorcycle crashes occur, why motorcycle crashes happen, the cost of motorcycle accidents, and what to do if you’re in a motorcycle crash.
When Do Most People Crash Their Motorcycle?
There are a few factors that go into when and why people crash their motorcycles. The NHTSA reports that 59 percent of motorcycle crashes occur during daylight hours, 36 percent occurred in the dark, 4 percent at dusk, and 1 percent at dawn. About a third of crashes happen at intersections, and most crashes happen on small, non-interstate roads. Twenty-three percent of motorcycle crashes involve fixed objects, rather than other moving vehicles. Of the accidents that do involve other cars, the most common accident cause is the other vehicle turning left while a motorcycle is driving straight, passing it, or overtaking it.
This data shows there is no specific time or place where people most need to watch for motorcycles. Motorcycle crashes are common at any time, in any condition.
Why Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen?
The majority of motorcycle accidents occur when people younger than 30 are driving. About 2/3 of these accidents, however, occur when another driver of a car or truck violates the motorcycle’s right of way. More often than not, the other driver simply doesn’t see the motorcycle until it is too late to stop.
As mentioned above, most accidents happen when a motorcycle is going straight or trying to pass another car when that car decides to turn left. In those cases, the motorcycle has no time to stop or slow down and hits the side of the passenger car, truck, or other vehicle that is turning. About 50 percent of the time, glare from the sun hampers the view of the motorcycle or the view of the other vehicle.
Alcohol impairment and speeding contribute to motorcycle accidents. Helmet use can also make a big difference in the outcome of a motorcycle accident. The NHTSA reports that, in Texas alone, nearly half of all fatalities occurred when motorcycle drivers were not wearing helmets.
The Cost of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are terrible events. The average cost of dealing with motorcycle accidents and their fallout is an estimated $22 billion a year.
The most common injuries that motorcyclists suffer after an accident include:
- Head injuries, which a helmet makes less likely but cannot always prevent.
- Back injuries, often caused when a driver’s body hits a rail, vehicle, or another object.
- Scrapes and cuts, common in all accidents.
- Broken bones, caused by the impact of an unprotected body with pavement, vehicles, etc.
These injuries often come with very high medical costs and result in serious distress. In many cases, the motorcycle driver was not responsible for the accident that led to such serious injury.
A common next step after a motorcycle accident is an insurance claim and/or a lawsuit. While not every crash is grounds for a claim, if the motorcyclist feels that the crash was not their fault, and they suffered serious injury and pain because of it, a lawsuit can seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
Common damages in a motorcycle accident include:
- Medical expenses from injuries;
- Loss of income from taking time off work to heal;
- Loss of earning capacity due to the inability to return to the same line of work with the injuries from the accident;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Emotional distress.
If you have been in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, you likely have many questions. Dealing with the law can be a complicated and messy process, especially in a motorcycle accident. If you would like further information on how to deal with a motorcycle accident and whether you should pursue a claim, reach out to a lawyer to learn more.
What to Do if You Experience a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents can be violent, overwhelming, and just plain scary.
If you find yourself in a motorcycle accident, remember:
- First and foremost, take care of your health and well-being. Call an ambulance or get to an emergency room or urgent care center as soon as you leave the accident scene. This can not only be life-saving if you have a serious injury, but it can also help you start to build evidence if you’re considering seeking an insurance settlement from the other driver.
- Second, call the police and do not leave the accident scene until the police let you know you are free to go (this does not apply if EMTs take you to the hospital in an ambulance). The police will write up a police report, which can provide valuable evidence for an insurance claim.
- Third, especially if the accident was severe and you suffered serious injuries, seek an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in your area. An attorney who knows the process can help you successfully pursue an insurance claim and, if necessary, file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to help you seek compensation for your injuries.