Why motorcycle crashes can be more dangerous
There are fewer motorcycles than cars on US roads. Yet, motorcycles accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2020. That means motorcyclists end up in fatal crashes more often than the numbers suggest they should. So, why can riding them be so dangerous? Here are a few reasons:
- Road hazards can be much riskier for motorcyclists: Potholes, uneven/wet roads, railroad tracks and traffic debris can put motorcyclists in greater danger than regular drivers. Since motorcyclists don’t have the density or enclosure of a typical sedan, SUV or hatchback, it can be easier to lose balance and crash. Plus, motorcyclists don’t have any barriers between them and these road hazards, so hitting a pothole, cone or coming off a bumpy railroad track could cause serious bodily damage.
- Motorcycles don’t have certain safety features: Airbags and seatbelts can protect drivers from serious injury in a crash. Motorcycles, however, have limited safety features. Most lack airbags and seatbelts. This means motorcycle injuries at high speeds often result in internal bleeding, shattered bones and severe neck and spine injuries. The motorcyclist’s main safety feature is the helmet, yet too many ignore this life-saving device.
- A lapse in judgment can be more dangerous: Motorcycles colliding with another vehicle can be fatal, especially during left-turn crashes. That’s because judging the speed and proximity of an oncoming car can be challenging, especially when they’re coming from multiple directions. When motorcyclists make the wrong call, it can result in a serious, and sometimes fatal, collision.
Motorcyclists can face disadvantages after a crash
Helmets save lives. Riders who wear helmets are 42% less likely to die and 69% less likely to endure serious injuries than those who don’t. However, that’s not all that helmets do.
Injuries of any kind can have lasting effects on motorcyclists. Riders often need serious medical attention, physical therapy and time away from work before they can get back in the saddle – all of which can be costly. Motorcyclists who were victims in a crash can receive compensation for their injuries. Yet, motorcyclists often face bias during negotiations or trials. To overcome these biases, they need strong legal arguments and compelling evidence. They also need to show they were riding responsibly, and most of the time, that means they were wearing a helmet.