Motorcycle enthusiasts will tell you that there’s nothing quite like the exhilarating, open road feeling of freedom than riding a bike can give you.
But riding a motorcycle is statistically riskier than driving a car. In 2016, motorcycle fatalities occurred 28 times more frequently than passenger car occupant deaths.
What makes motorcycle accidents so dangerous? It all comes down to the design of the vehicle itself as well as how much control the motorcyclist has. Here are some of the reasons why motorcycle crashes tend to have more dire consequences.
Motorcycles Offer Less Protection
When riding in a car, you have physical protection that includes the steel cage structure of the car itself as well as seat belts and airbags. Motorcyclists are completely exposed to the outside with nothing to keep them secure, so they are more likely to be unseated and injured in an accident.
And while auto manufacturers make improvements to previous models by adding the latest safety technology such as lane departure and forward collision warnings, motorcycle brands have limited options for making upgrades to their bikes. Anti-lock brakes and stability control are becoming more common motorcycle safety features, but these still can’t compare to what most modern cars offer.
There are airbag vests for motorcycle riders that automatically deploy in an accident to offer some protection against spine and neck injuries. The downside is they cost hundreds of dollars, with some priced at over $1,000.
Motorcyclists are also more susceptible to injuries from road debris or other projectiles as there’s no barrier between them and a fixed or flying object. If they’re not wearing appropriate clothing, they can get scraped badly if they fall off their bike and make contact with the road.
There’s no comparison between the level of encased protection an automobile offers versus the open air nature of motorcycles.
Motorcycles Are Harder to Control
Motorcycles tend to have more sensitive steering than four-wheel vehicles which means it’s easy for a startled rider to lose control. They also don’t offer the same level of braking power that automobiles provide.
Riding a motorcycle in poor weather conditions is a lot more hazardous than driving a car. If a road surface becomes wet or oily it can become tough for a motorcycle to maintain good grip with it because it only has two wheels.
Rain, sleet, or snow can also impair a rider’s vision, making it challenging to see the road in front of them. This is why most motorcyclists store their bikes during the winter months and only drive them in dry weather conditions.
Motorcycles Are Lighter and Smaller Than Cars
When a motorcycle is involved in an accident with a larger vehicle such as a car, SUV, or truck, the bike usually fairs the worst. A motorcycle is simply no match for a four-wheeled vehicle that weighs hundreds of pounds more and is larger.
Given its lightweight nature, it’s easy for a bike to fall onto its side and go sliding across the pavement where it can collide with another vehicle or object.
Motorcycles Are Harder to See
Many collisions between motorcycles and cars occur when a car turns into the path of the bike because the driver didn’t see them. Motorcycles can also get hidden in a car’s blind spot and may not be visible on side mirrors.
Motorcyclists also find themselves at the mercy of distracted driving. A car operator may not see a motorcycle traveling near them if they’re texting or making a phone call.
As motorcycles are smaller than many other vehicles on the road, bikers need to exercise caution and make sure they stay visible to other drivers.
How to Prevent a Motorcycle Accident
While not every motorcycle accident is unavoidable, you can help prevent one and minimize injury to yourself by always following these basic safety tips:
Wear a Helmet
Statistics show that helmets are 37% effective at preventing death in a motorcycle accident and 67% effective at preventing a brain injury. Your helmet should include a face shield to protect your eyes and face from the wind and debris.
Riders who wear skull cap helmets should also wear goggles or wrap-around sunglasses to protect their eyes.
Wear Motorcycle Gear
Always wear proper protective gear such as a jacket, long pants, boots, and gloves. Clothing made from leather or Kevlar offers additional padding in case you get dragged across the pavement during a motorcycle wreck.
Adding reflective strips and avoiding head-to-toe dark clothing will help you appear more visible to other drivers.
Ride in Good Weather
Only ride in ideal weather conditions; the drier the pavement, the better. If an unexpected shower arrives while you’re on your motorcycle, slow down and exercise additional caution when braking and making turns.
Follow Traffic Laws
Ride your motorcycle responsibly and respect others on the road. Avoid lane splitting, which is illegal in many states and increases your chances of getting into an accident.
Lastly, make sure your bike is in good working condition and is properly maintained so that all equipment works as it should.
Involved in an Accident? Our Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident—whether you’re the driver or one or a passenger vehicle—you may need legal representation. Krause and Kinsman Law Firm can help you file an accident claim and receive personal injury compensation.
We help give our clients a voice so they can receive what’s rightfully theirs. Contact us via our online form and we’ll schedule a complimentary consultation to begin building your case.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.