Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents and How to Avoid Them
May 16, 2017
In the United States, there are at least 4,000 motorcycle related deaths every year. The latest research done by the National Traffic Safety Administration back in 2013 shows that the chances of a motorcyclist perishing in a road accident is 26 times higher compared to car passengers. Of course, motorcycle riders are more likely to be injured in contrast with car occupants since they are more exposed on the road. However, that is not enough reason not to ride a motorcycle since most accidents happened due to negligence which can be utterly avoided. A driving license is important but any experienced motorcyclist will tell you the real world is different from driving school. Hence, to avoid such collisions, it is critical for motorcycle beginners to know some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in the United States and how to avoid them.
Unexpected Left Turn
It is probably the most annoying scenario motorcyclist experience. A car driving in front especially at a busy intersection fails to notice your presence or miscalculates your speed. Because of the blind spot, the driver makes an abrupt left turn not knowing there is an oncoming motorcycle. In fact, it is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents in the United States.
How to avoid it
Even though most motorcycle accidents caused by a sudden left turn is faulted at the car driver, it is possible to avert it before it happens. Do not ignore your sixth sense; always watch out for suspicious signs that indicate the driver in front may turn left abruptly. For instance, a traffic gap between an intersection should be approached with caution. Nearby parking lots or driveways along the intersection increase the chance of another driver cutting through the open space. Hence, it is safer to slow down and prepare a contingency plan such as an escape route in case things go sideways. Most importantly, the wheels and not the car will give you a hint of the most probable turn. However, do not forget to notice what is behind or at your sides. Who wants to screech the wheels to avoid colliding with a car on the front side only to be hit from the back? Caution; In case of an emergency, do not lay your bike down and slide with it like in the movies. That will just land you in between the tires of an ongoing SUV making it less likely for you to survive. To the contrary, most people who survive such collisions tend to reduce the speed using both brakes while the bike is upright.
Obstacle on a blind corner
Picture this; You are riding at a speed of 110MPH, then suddenly while turning a corner, you hit a pothole that swallows your entire front wheel. Although you are unlikely to find such big sized potholes in a developed country such as the United States, the pothole could be replaced by sand, leaves, gravel, dung or even a dead animal.
How to avoid it
Actually, it is perhaps the most important rule of riding a motorcycle. Never ride into unseen/unidentified territory. Always make sure your vision corresponds with your reaction time if you approach an obstacle. Slow down while approaching a blind corner and after making sure it is safe, increase the momentum. Additionally, trail braking could be used to evade obstacles on blind corners. However, it takes a lot of practice to master the skill on the track. Just enforce the front brakes pushing the effects to the apex before changing for a throttle. After applying the brakes, the motorcycle’s weight is pushed forward hence applying more pressure on the front suspension and improving the size of front contact patch will easily hold your line by the slightest brake movement.
Miscalculating a sharp corner
Although it seems obvious that no experienced rider would over speed while approaching unfamiliar territory, most beginners underestimate corner turns. In fact, once in a while, a professional motocross rider swerves and crashes after going too fast on a corner. If you find yourself in such a situation, just pray the road does not bend on some tall mountain in the middle of nowhere or else you will find yourself sliding into a deep slippery slope.
How to avoid it
Just like avoiding an obstacle on a blind corner, adjust the speed depending on your eyesight. Moreover, there are electric poles and road signs that can give you a hint of how the road curves ahead. However, if you find yourself going too fast on a sharp corner, do not panic but put your trust in your bike. The best maneuver would be leaning to one side of the motorcycle in order to reduce the weight and make it easier to move along the corner. However, riders should be warned that it takes a lot of error and practice before perfecting that skill. What stands out is that the brakes should not be smacked or the throttle pressed on .Trail braking can also be used in such a scenario to reduce the speed.
Both the car driver and motorcyclists are to blame for a majority of the accidents caused by overtaking or changing lanes. A rider overtakes another car at a congested highway only to find out there is not sufficient space squeeze in front. In another scene, a car suddenly changes its lane on the highway intercepting a motorcycle without warning.
How to avoid it
Of course you should never overtake on a roundabout, junction, hillcrest or a bend. In addition, always make sure there is enough space if you overtake a vehicle and you will not just wait for the car beside you to hit the brakes to create space. The same rule should apply to those car drivers who switch lanes with no prior warning. However, since they are not so polite or observant, motorcycle riders are urged to be extra keen on highways especially where one side is moving faster than the other due to a traffic snarl up. It is evident most cars will switch to the less congested lane. Other signs that indicate the probability of a car switching lanes include signals, wheels turning and a driver checking the mirrors or turning a head.