Riding in the open air is an exhilarating experience, but the same unenclosed design that makes a motorcycle ride so exciting also puts riders at great risk for serious injuries and fatalities. A daily commute to work or a beautiful, bracing ride on a winding country road can take a sudden turn into a catastrophe. While wearing a helmet can protect motorcycle riders from some types of head injuries, the body remains vulnerable to extensive injuries in a crash. Motorcycle riders often make direct contact with the road, other vehicles, and obstacles.
Though no rider is perfect, the majority of motorcycle accidents occur due to driver negligence. When a passenger vehicle weighing an average of 4,000 pounds collides with an unprotected motorcyclist, the results are often catastrophic or deadly. Understanding the most common causes of motorcycle accidents can help both bikers and motorists to avoid them.
The number one cause of motorcycle accidents is a motorist’s failure to see the motorcycle and rider. Part of a driver’s duty of reasonable care to prevent harm to others is to remain alert and vigilant to the presence of motorcyclists who share the roadways. Motorcycles have slim profiles that aren’t as easily visible as two-axled passenger vehicles and trucks. Drivers must take basic precautions such as checking and double-checking blind spots before changing lanes, avoiding following motorcycles too closely, and remaining vigilant to the presence of motorcycles when yielding the right of way.
An estimated 70% of motorcycle accidents occur in intersections, and specialized motorcycle accident lawyers in Atlanta have handled cases in which drivers often comment, “I never saw them.”
Like other traffic accidents, rates of motorcycle accidents due to driver distraction have risen since the popularity of smartphones. When motorists take their eyes off the road to read or answer a text, select a playlist, or set a GPS, they may fail to see a motorcycle and cause a collision.
When a driver parks on the roadside or in front of a driveway, they have the obligation to check for oncoming traffic—including motorcycles—before exiting the vehicle. Experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyers have handled a considerable number of motorcycle accident cases occurring when a parked motorist opens the car door in the path of an oncoming motorcyclist. The rider has little to no time to react or take evasive measures before driving into the car door. This type of collision often results in severe injuries as the motorcyclist flies over the car door and into the roadway.
Nearly 50% of all accidents between motorcycles and cars involve left turns. When a car driver makes a left turn onto a roadway or into an intersection, they either fail to see an approaching motorcycle or they misjudge the speed of the approaching motorcycle and pull out in front of it, resulting in a direct collision. It may be more difficult for drivers to accurately judge the speed of a motorcycle compared to a full-sized vehicle. Left-turn accidents are common with full-sized vehicles as well, but the injuries to a motorcyclist tend to be far more severe.
The brake lights on a motorcycle are naturally smaller than on a 4-wheeled vehicle, making it more difficult for drivers to see a motorcycle slowing or stopping in front of them. Some drivers fail to leave adequate following distances between their vehicle and a motorcycle, making it impossible to avoid a collision in the event that they fail to see a stopping rider in front of them until it’s too late to avoid a rear-end collision. Rear-end collisions often cause severe injuries to a motorcyclist by forcing their motorcycle into an intersection.
Motorcycle injuries are often temporarily or permanently life-altering. They’re also costly, with expensive medical procedures and lost income. When a driver is at fault in a motorcycle accident claim, they’re responsible for damages—typically paid through their insurance policy.
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