Little Known Facts About Motorcycle Accidents


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Motorcycle accidents, though not necessarily more common than other motor vehicle accidents, can be more shocking and devastating. But, they can also be caused by some unique circumstances. A number of studies and surveys have discovered some interesting facts and statistics about motorcycle accidents:

1. Approximately of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, most often a passenger automobile.

2. Only about of motorcycle accidents are single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.

3. Vehicle failure accounts for less than 3% of motorcycle accidents, and most of those are single vehicle accidents where control is lost due to a puncture flat.

4. In single vehicle accidents, about 2/3 of the accidents are caused by rider error, typically a slide-out and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.

5. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) cause only about 2% of all motorcycle accidents; and animals account for only about 1% of all accidents.

6. In multiple vehicle accidents, 2/3 of the accidents are caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle's right-of-way.

7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle's right-of-way, and often violating other traffic controls (i.e., changing lanes, running the light or stop sign, etc.).

11. In 98% of motorcycle accidents, weather does not contribute to the accident.

12. Most motorcycle accidents occur during a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment, or recreation, and usually occurs very shortly after the beginning of the trip.

13. The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost of multiple vehicle accidents.

14. Visibility and conspicuousness of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps (on in daylight) and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.

15. Fuel system leaks and spills were present in 62% of motorcycle accidents in the post-crash phase, presenting an unusually high risk of fire not present in other types of motor vehicle accidents.

16. The average speed of a motorcycle prior to an accident is 29.8 mph, 21.5 mph at the time of impact, and in only 1/1000 of cases is speed approximately 86 mph at the time of impact.

17. The typical motorcycle pre-crash lines-of-sight to the traffic hazard portray no contribution of the limits of peripheral vision; more than of all accident hazards are within 45 degrees of either side of straight ahead.

18. Conspicuousness of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.

19. Vehicle defects related to accident causation are rare and likely to be due to deficient or defective maintenance.

20. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle drivers are male (96%), female motorcycle passengers are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.

22. Craftsmen, laborers, and students comprise most of the accident-involved motorcycle riders. Professionals, sales workers, and craftsmen are underrepresented.

23. Motorcycle riders with previous recent traffic citations and accidents are overrepresented in the accident data.

24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.

25. More than of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.

26. Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.

27. Almost of fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.

28. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.

29. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.

30. Passenger-carrying motorcycles are not overrepresented in the accident area.

31. The driver of vehicles involved in collisions with motorcycles are not distinguished from other accident populations except that the ages of 20 to 29, and beyond 65 are overrepresented. Also, these drivers are generally not familiar with motorcycles (i.e., are not licensed to operate motorcycles and do not own their own motorcycles).

32. Large displacement motorcycles are underrepresented in accidents but are associated with higher injury severity when involved in accidents.

33. The studies have not identified any relationship to motorcycle color and accident data, but is expected to be insignificant because the frontal surfaces are most often presented to the other vehicle involved in the collision.

34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuousness and the association with more experienced and trained riders.

35. Motorcycle riders without a motorcycle license, without any license, or with a license that was revoked are significantly overrepresented in motorcycle accidents.

36. Motorcycle modifications, such as those associated with the semi-chopper or cafe racers, are very significantly overrepresented in accidents.

37. The likelihood of injury is extremely high in motorcycle accidents: 98% of multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.

38. Half of the injuries to motorcyclists are to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and thigh-upper leg.

39. Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure. The reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.

40. The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.

41. Groin injuries were sustained by the motorcyclist in at least 13% of the accidents, which typified by multiple vehicle collision in frontal impact at higher than average speed.

42. Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement, and motorcycle size.

43. 73% of the accident-involved motorcycle riders used no eye protection, and it is likely that the wind on the unprotected eyes contributed in impairment of vision which delayed hazard detection.

44. Approximately 50% of motorcycle riders use safety helmets. Only 40% of accident-involved motorcycle riders were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.

45. Voluntary safety helmet use by those accident-involved motorcycle riders was lowest for untrained, uneducated, young motorcycle riders on hot days and short trips.

46. The most deadly injuries to the accident victims were injuries to the chest and head.

47. The use of the safety helmet is the single most critical factor in the prevention of reduction of head injury.

48. Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of pre-crash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention. No element of accident causation was related to helmet use.

49. The increased coverage of the full facial coverage helmet increases protection, and significantly reduces face injuries.

52. Helmeted riders had fewer neck injuries than un-helmeted riders.

53. Less than 10% of motorcycle riders involved in accidents had insurance of any kind to provide medical care or replace property.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you should contact a personal injury attorney. The attorney will likely be able to provide you with a free consultation and case analysis. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you obtain more relief than you would on your own and can guide you through the process of making claims to insurance carriers of other drivers.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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