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5 common causes of motorcycle accidents (and how to avoid them)

On Behalf of | Mar 12, 2024 | Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles offer riders a tremendous amount of freedom on the roads – but there’s no question that motorcycles can be dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, motorcycles make up just 3% of vehicles, but they are involved in 14% of traffic fatalities – and the number of fatalities has been rising in recent years.

Some motorcycle accidents are more common than others, however. If you’re a rider, understanding more about the causes of wrecks can help you know when and how to exercise special caution. Some of the biggest sources of motorcycle wrecks include:

1. Inattentional blindness by other drivers

One of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is inattentional blindness, where other drivers fail to notice motorcycles. Much of that can be attributed to ordinary distracted driving on the part of the other drivers, which can be hard to combat. 

What can you do about it? You’ve probably heard this before, but the key to safety is often high visibility. You need to make yourself hard to overlook by wearing bright, reflective gear – and using your headlights during the day. Make eye contact with drivers at stops and try to always ride in positions that maximize your overall visibility.

2. “Dooring” incidents 

“Dooring” accidents occur when a driver opens their car door into traffic without checking for oncoming motorcycles. Hitting a suddenly opened door can propel a motorcyclist headlong over their own vehicle and onto the pavement, with devastating results.

The best way you can combat this issue is to slow down in urban areas where cars are parked on the street and do your best to scan for signs someone is about to exit a vehicle.

3. Lane splitting

In Ohio, lane sharing (where two motorcycles ride side by side in the same lane) is allowed, but lane splitting (where motorcyclists move between larger vehicles that are slow or stopped) is not. It’s broadly considered an unsafe practice, even though it is legal in some states.

In this case, you protect yourself by knowing the rules and using patience. Any time you might save is not worth the risk to your health.

4. Lane Switches by other drivers

Sudden lane switches by other drivers can catch motorcyclists off guard, especially if those drivers don’t realize the motorcyclist is even there and they cut the motorcyclist off short.

Again, the only best defense is to make sure that you stay visible and alert. Position yourself where drivers can easily see you in their rearview mirrors, and watch for subtle cues such as turn signals or changes in speed that may indicate a lane switch is about to happen.

5. Left-turn accidents

Left-turn accidents happen when a motor vehicle turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle that’s moving straight forward, and they’re often fatal. They often happen in conjunction with inattentional blindness. 

Be cautious at intersections. Slow down when approaching intersections, and be prepared for sudden turns by drivers in passenger vehicles. 

Motorcycling offers a unique and thrilling experience, but safety should always be the top priority. By understanding the common causes of motorcycle accidents and implementing preventative measures, riders can significantly reduce their risk on the road. If you are in a motorcycle wreck, keep in mind that obtaining fair compensation can be nearly impossible without the appropriate legal guidance.