Motorcyclists Are Almost 40 Times More Likely to be Killed in a Crash
Motorcycles are becoming increasingly popular on the roads of America. However, the chances of being killed in a motorcycle accident are significantly higher than in accidents involving other vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, you are about 39 times more likely to die in motorcycle crash than if you are involved in a crash in a car.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) states that 4,762 motorcycle deaths occurred in 2009. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted a total of 4,381 motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2013. Since the early 1980s, fewer riders have been dying, but the figure started to creep up in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcyclist deaths fell by 16 percent in 2009 compared with 2008 and rose slightly in 2010, 2011, and 2012 before falling by 7 percent in 2013. In other words, the pattern has been an inconsistent one in recent years. Motorcycle deaths made up about 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2013 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist fatalities recorded in 1997.
Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than other road users because they lack the protection given by the metal frame of a car or a truck. The only group of road users who are more likely to lose their lives in a crash are pedestrians.
Although the dangers can seem overwhelming, there are some actions you can take to protect yourself on two wheels. Here are five of the biggest dangers to motorcyclists in Virginia.
1 Oncoming Traffic
If a driver drifts across a lane, the consequences can be very serious for other road users, in particular, motorcyclists. Distracted driving such as looking at a cell phone can cause a car to veer. A driver doesn’t even need to hit a motorcyclist directly because even being clipped by a car that’s approaching you can knock you from your bike. You should keep a constant eye on traffic and avoid riding too close to oncoming traffic to lessen your chances of being a statistic.
2 Cars Making Left Turns
Intersections can easily become death zones for motorcyclists. We see many accidents in which riders are hit by drivers who are making a left turn, or the rider hit the car that’s making a turn. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 36 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involve a car or a truck turning left in front of a motorcycle.
Even at a slow speed, an intersection crash can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Drivers may be distracted while making turns or they may be looking out for other cars but fail to notice a smaller motorcyclist. Make sure to slow down at intersections and watch for cars turning. Look at the wheels of the cars first for signs of movement.
3 Opening Car Doors
If you are riding in an urban area, car doors being suddenly opened can be a serious hazard. Cyclists have dealt with this problem for years, but it’s even more dangerous for motorcycle riders who move faster than bicycles and can be more seriously injured trying to avoid a car door.
You can minimize this potential hazard by keeping well to the left of parked cars in urban areas and allowing enough space for a door to be opened.
4 Bad Weather
Bad weather poses hazards for all road users but you face more dangers on two wheels. Not only are you likely to get wet when it rains but a motorcycle may lose its balance on slick roads. There have also been cases in which riders have been killed when they have been blown across the road by a gust of wind and hit by another driver.
Snowy and icy conditions are about as dangerous as it gets on two wheels. Check ahead for weather conditions if you are on a long ride and aim not to go out in poor conditions.
5 Excess Speed on Curves
Motorcycles can be very powerful machines and it’s tempting to pull hard on the throttle to see how powerful they are. Riders can get into trouble on curves where they risk crashing their bikes. If you can’t see what’s around the curve, you may not be in control. While new riders are particularly susceptible to losing control of their machines, veteran riders can also become overconfident.