Studies done by the NHTSA show that motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to get into an accident than car drivers. If you’re a rider, that’s an alarming statistic, and you should absolutely be doing everything in your power to decrease your chances of experiencing a crash and getting hurt.
Professional safety organizations and regular people seem to agree, and if you take a quick look around, most of the advice (and blame) out there seems to be pointed at riders. Even the NHTSA’s page on motorcycle accidents prominently features safe riding programs, studies on why motorcyclists should wear helmets, and a call for sober riding.
All of this is good advice for riders to heed, but it makes it seem like motorcyclists have sole responsibility in preventing accidents. However, a new study from the Florida Department of Transportation may help to change that. In looking at a decade of motorcycle accidents, researchers found that 60 percent of car-motorcycle collisions were actually caused by car drivers, not riders.
How exactly are car drivers at fault when they collide with motorcycles? There are a number of bad behaviors that drivers tend to engage in:
Failing to yield. One of the most common types of motorcycle-car accidents is when drivers decide to pull out in front of them. Typically, this happens when the driver is attempting to make a left turn and ends up colliding with the front of the motorcycle – often, this type of crash is fatal to the rider. Failing to yield to a motorcyclist can also occur when entering or exiting a highway and other situations that necessitate merging with other traffic.
Pulling in front of riders. Another frequent cause of motorcycle accidents is when cars and trucks suddenly pull in front of them without warning. When you side-swipe another car, there is often some damage, but the people inside the car may not be seriously injured. This is not the case for motorcycle-car accidents of this nature. Unlike drivers and car passengers, riders have nothing to protect them from the impact of a larger vehicle and a simple side-swipe can send their bike careening off the road and possibly even throw the rider from the motorcycle.
Misjudging speed and distance. Because motorcycles are smaller vehicles, drivers often perceive that they are going slower or that they are farther away than they really are. This is one of the biggest reasons that drivers fail to yield – to them, it looks like the motorcycle is too far away for anything bad to happen.
Failing to see motorcycles. Possibly the biggest reason that cars end up getting into accidents with motorcycles is that they simply do not see them. In part, this is because motorcycles’ smaller size makes it easier for them to get lost in traffic and behind other objects, but that isn’t the only reason. When car drivers enter the road, they tend to be looking for other cars and trucks – objects that are roughly the same size or bigger. Because they aren’t consciously on the lookout for motorcycles, many people simply don’t notice them until it’s too late. Bicyclists have a similar problem when they try to share the road with drivers.
Intentional hostility. Though it is rare, there have been cases where drivers initiate a crash with riders out of anger or frustration. Some drivers believe that the road should be reserved for cars and trucks, and take offense when riders try to share their space. This is a dangerous attitude, and if you ever notice a driver that seems to be annoyed by your presence or acting in a reckless manner close to you, do your best to get away as quickly as possible.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of a driver, don’t pay for their mistake – protect your rights and get the compensation you need to fully recover by working with an experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney.