You’ve undoubtedly seen bumper stickers on cars cautioning drivers to “watch out for motorcycles.” But as a motorcycle rider, responsibility also rests upon your own shoulders. Thankfully, most bikes are built with powerful features to help riders avoid crashes, including strong breaking and extremely grippy tires. However, with National Highway Traffic Safety Association data revealing that almost 5,300 riders were killed and another 88,000 were injured in 2016 alone, it’s important to look at the most common causes of motorcycle accidents, and how you can use the features available to avoid them.
1: You Hit Debris in a Blind Corner
What you can’t see can hurt you. Too often, riders round a corner only to find themselves faced with sand, gravel, leaves, or any other sort of debris, resulting in a wipe out.
The Solution: Be cautious. Ride at a pace that allows for reaction time should you encounter the unexpected. When possible, you should always enter a corner wide, regardless of lanes, to improve your range of vision, see what’s ahead, and stay safe.
2: You Enter a Turn Too Fast
As much as we like to think we have control, what may seem like a smooth turn can quickly tighten up on you, leaving you unable to make it around.
The Solution: The safest option is to only ride as fast as you can see. But, knowing riders’ need for speed, this isn’t always going to happen. So, the best bet is to try to ride it out. Hitting the brakes or chopping the throttle will likely cause a loss of traction resulting in a wipe out. Lean into the turn as much as possible, and hold that lean until you round the bend.
3: A Vehicle Changes Lanes Into Yours
Whether it’s cell phone distraction or simply that dreaded blind spot, drivers aren’t always going to see you. Many motorcycle accidents happen when a vehicle in another lane veers into the space you’re occupying.
The Solution: Try to stay out of blind spots; remember, if you can see a driver's eyes in their mirrors, they should probably be able to see you as well. It also helps to gauge traffic situations; often, you can predict when someone may change lanes. Is one lane moving faster than others? Drivers are apt to switch from their slow lane to speed up. Also look for drivers’ checking mirrors or looking over their shoulder; both are an indicator of a imminent lane change.
4: A Vehicle Opens its Door
No one likes waiting in traffic. As riders, however, we’re able to go where cars can’t, and windows of opportunity may open up between lines of parked vehicles and a stationary line of active traffic. It’s tempting to scoot through this “lane,” and it can work out well until suddenly someone in a parked car opens its door.
The Solution: Do not ride between parked cars and an active traffic lane. Not only could a door open in front of you and send you flying, a pedestrian may step out and into harm’s way. If you fail to heed this advice and find yourself barreling toward an open door, brake! Shedding just a small fraction off your speed prior to impact could make a big difference.
5: It’s Raining.
It could also be snow. Or sleet. Either way, something is coming down from sky and it’s getting slippery on the road.
The Solution: Make sure you’re maintaining your tires so that rain or snowfall doesn’t cause you to panic. Then, maintain a slow pace and be as smooth as possible with the bike’s controls. Rain itself isn’t always the problem, it’s that it lifts up oils and diesels that had previously been dried on the pavement. So, look for patches of rainbow on the road that signify oils and steer clear if possible. Best bet? Get off the road, grab a cup of coffee, and wait for the storm to pass.
6: You’ve Had Too Much to Drink
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in 2016, over 25% of motorcycle fatalities involved a rider with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .08%, rendering them legally intoxicated.
The Solution: Call an Uber. It is never safe to drink and ride.
At Lowman Law Firm, we want you to be safe on the road, whether you’re behind the wheel of a Honda or riding on a hog. But we also understand that accidents happen. If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile or motorcycle accident, contact us today to learn about your legal options and opportunities.