6 Common Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents: Safety Tips
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Unlike drivers of cars, trucks, and SUVs who are protected from their surroundings by a metal vehicle cabin, motorcycle riders are left exposed. On a bike, safety should always come first, and the most important safety resource is common sense.
With forethought and planning, you can avoid the common motorcycle accidents below, arriving safe and sound at the destination of your motorcycle adventure.
1. A Car Turning in Front of You
This dangerous situation accounts for nearly half of all motorcycle accidents, making it the number one cause of bike accidents. If you’ve been riding for a while, odds are that you have experienced at least a near miss when a car turned left or right in front of your driving path.
While much of the blame for this type of accident rests on the driver of the turning vehicle, there are precautions you can take to lower the risk. You may think it’s the other person’s responsibility, but it’s better to be alive than proving a point. To limit the danger, make sure other drivers can see your bike easily and know what your next move will be.
Use indicators, such as turn signals or slightly edge your motorcycle forward to make yourself more noticeable. Try to make contact with the other driver’s eyes. This helps indicate whether they see you, potentially giving you the heads-up you need to avoid a serious crash.
2. A Car Crosses into Your Lane
This situation happens most often on roads with four or more lanes and not really on a trail riding motorcycle tour. However, it could also happen that you’re happily motoring down the highway, when a car in the closest lane is suddenly just inches away from your motorcycle. This is another common accident that often boils down to the biker not being seen.
Once again, situational awareness can be a key to avoiding a wreck. Watch for turn signals. If the other driver isn’t using a signal, it could be a sign that they think the lane they are ready to enter is clear of vehicles. Eating, using cell phones, and applying cosmetics while driving are also common signs that a driver may make a lane change by inadvertently drifting into it.
Practice the safe riding habit of avoiding the blind spots of other vehicles. If you’re passing a vehicle, pass as quickly as possible, while maintaining complete control. If you’re not passing, it’s a good rule of thumb to remain at least three car lengths behind the driver, so you can be easily seen in the person’s rear view and side mirrors.
3. Rounding a Corner Too Fast
When you’re riding at highway speed before transitioning to city driving, it’s easy to find yourself traveling faster than the posted speed limit. Taking a corner at a speed that is too high puts you at risk for more than a ticket. You could also be risking your life. Entering a turn at a high rate of speed presents two distinct threats: over-driving your line of sight and loss of traction.
Over-driving your line of sight leaves you with less reaction time to avoid obstacles. Pedestrians, broken-down vehicles, and road debris can all bring an early end to your ride. Take corners within the posted speed limit and you will have a better chance of seeing and avoiding threats.
Loss of traction can leave your bike skidding down the road. To avoid this, slow down. Also, make sure your tires are in good condition. Bald tires should be replaced immediately with quality performance tires. New performance tires grip the road to help maintain traction and keep your bike beneath you, but even the best motorcycle performance tires in the world don’t replace smart road decisions.
4. Head-On Collisions
The vast majority of fatal motorcycle collisions are head-on collisions. Due to the cumulative speeds involved in head-on collisions, the rider is almost always ejected from the bike before impacting a vehicle or the roadway at a high rate of speed. Those who survive can sustain life-changing injuries that cause pain, suffering, and dramatically impact the overall quality of life.
The National Safety Council’s Defensive Driving course recommends that you follow the “Four Rs” to better avoid collisions:
- Read the road ahead to exercise situational awareness.
- Ride on the right to give yourself more space on the road.
- Reduce your speed to have more reaction time.
- Ride off of the road into a breakdown lane or onto the shoulder to avoid a collision.
5. Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is when a motorcycle — usually in either slow or stopped traffic — rides between rows of motor vehicles, often to approach a traffic light or a stop sign. While popular in some countries, this practice is illegal in most U.S. states and Canada.
Because lane splitters ride on areas of the road where they aren’t expected to be, other drivers can easily not see them. Avoiding the dangers of lane splitting is easy: Be patient and don’t lane split!
6. Riding Under the Influence
Drugs and alcohol should never be your riding buddies, but some motorcyclists haven’t got the message. Whether it’s the image of motorcyclists as rule-breaking rebels, the spirit of bike adventures, or just a regular bad decision, many motorcyclists are lost every year to intoxicated driving.
When you ride intoxicated, you risk a ticket, your bike, your life, and the lives of others. Don’t ride intoxicated. Period. There’s no excuse to do it. Call a taxi or a friend instead and make it home alive.
By following the laws of the road and making sound driving decisions, you can better avoid some of the most dangerous situations on the road. Don’t let your ride end with an ambulance. Ride safe, arrive safe and enjoy the open road.
Do you want to be safer on a tour? Sign up for a guided motorcycle tour and let your leader guide you on the road!