Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
How Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
In the simplest terms, most motorcycle accidents are caused by negligence. Sometimes, this negligence occurs on the part of the motorcycle operators, but more often, it is the negligence of others that causes these devastating collisions.
Continue reading to learn more about common motorcycle accident causes or, if you or someone you love was recently involved in a motorcycle crash in Orange County, contact our motorcycle accident lawyers to learn how we can help. With offices in Irvine and Brea, Gill Law Group, PC proudly represents the rights of the injured throughout Orange County and the nearby areas, providing powerful, solution-oriented strategies aimed at maximizing our clients’ recoveries.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Every year, thousands of Californians are injured or killed in motorcycle crashes. In fact, throughout the United States, motorcycle deaths are typically the most over-represented type of traffic accident fatality.
- More than 5,000 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents in 2019
- Motorcyclists were 29 times more likely to be killed and 4 times more likely to be injured in traffic accidents than occupants of traditional passenger vehicles in 2019
- Wearing a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet is one of the best ways to prevent serious injury, including head and brain injuries, in the event of a motorcycle crash
Additionally, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS):
- 1,135 motorcyclists were injured or killed in Orange County alone in 2018 (the latest year for which data are available)
- Overall, motorcycle accident fatalities decreased by 9.4% from 2018 to 2019 (source)
While motorcyclists can take certain measures to protect themselves when sharing the road with other drivers—such as wearing approved motorcycle helmets, practicing defensive driving, and avoiding riding after consuming alcohol—they cannot always predict the actions of others. Tragically, motorcyclists are not always able to react in time or avoid other motorists who are acting negligently or recklessly, and the consequences can be fatal.
Leading Motorcycle Accident Causes
According to statistical analysis and data reports, the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is a huge problem on our roadways. Despite laws prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones and other devices behind the wheel, millions of California motorists continue to use their phones to talk, text, look at social media, take pictures and videos, answer emails, and even play games—all while operating large, heavy, fast-moving motor vehicles. For motorcyclists, who are already at risk due to their relatively small size compared to other types of motor vehicles, distracted drivers pose a serious threat.
- Speeding: Driving faster than posted speed limits, as well as driving too fast for current conditions regardless of speed limits, is extremely dangerous. Not only does speeding contribute to countless accidents each year, but it also typically increases the severity of those collisions. Drivers, including motorcyclists, who speed are more likely to lose control of their vehicles, require more time to stop, and experience decreased effectiveness of safety equipment, like helmets, protective clothing, and even seatbelts and airbags.
- Failure to See Motorcycles: Often, drivers claim to have not seen motorcyclists—but this is not an excuse. All drivers should always remain completely aware of their surroundings at all time; failure to see a motorcyclist who is sharing the road or lawfully lane-splitting could have disastrous, and even deadly, consequences. In many cases, failing to see a motorcyclist constitutes negligence and may even go hand-in-hand with other negligent driving behaviors, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, or fatigued driving.
- Drunk Driving: Intoxication is a common factor in motorcycle accidents. No one, including both motorcyclists and drivers of other types of vehicles, should attempt to operate a motor vehicle when drunk or after consuming alcohol to the point of being impaired. Unfortunately, many people make this choice—with deadly results. According to the OTS, 1,856 motor vehicle accidents in Orange County in 2018 involved alcohol.
- Dangerous Driving Maneuvers: Motorcyclists are particularly at risk when other drivers act erratically or engage in unsafe driving behaviors. This includes things like speeding, swerving in and out of lanes, making dangerous or unlawful turns, passing illegally, tailgating, and even aggressive or reckless driving. Often, motorcyclists are unable to safely react in time when another motorist makes a sudden, unsafe maneuver. This commonly leads to serious collisions resulting in catastrophic injury and/or death.
- Dooring: When motorists open their parked car doors without checking first to see if anyone is coming, motorcyclists can be struck and seriously injured. Known as “dooring,” this is much more common than many people realize. Drivers who fling open car doors are putting others—including not only motorcyclists but also bicyclists and pedestrians—at serious risk and can be held accountable for their negligence.
- Failure to Yield: Every motorist on the road should know and obey all applicable laws, including yielding the right of way when necessary. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to do this, leading to serious collisions, injuries, and deaths. Motorcyclists are frequently injured by other drivers who turn across their paths, merge into them, cut them off in traffic, and fail to obey traffic control devices, like red lights and stop signs.
- Fatigued/Drowsy Driving: Many studies have revealed that driving while fatigued is just as—if not more—dangerous than driving drunk. In fact, fatigued or drowsy driving leads to thousands of serious motor vehicle collisions in the U.S. every year, many of which involve motorcyclists. Due to their relative lack of protection, motorcyclists are at a significantly higher risk of catastrophic injury and death in these types of crashes than the occupants of passenger vehicles.
Note that while this list comprises some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in Orange County, California, and all of the U.S., it is by no means exhaustive. Many other forms of negligence can—and do—cause these devastating accidents. In some cases, a third party entirely separate from the motorists involved may be partially or wholly liable. For example, if an accident was caused by an auto defect or dangerous roadway design, the entity responsible for the defect could be held legally responsible for the victims’ resulting damages.
Get Help With Your Accident Claim Today!
One of the best things you can do after a motorcycle accident is contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help protect your rights in the wake of the crash. At Gill Law Group, PC, our Orange County motorcycle accident attorneys bring extensive experience and a proven record of success to every case. We are known for our aggressive approach to negotiation and litigation and have earned a reputation as fierce and dedicated advocates for the injured.