Compared to other forms of vehicles, motorcycles have a higher rate of injury and fatality. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycles are involved in roughly one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the U.S. This makes motorcycle riders 35 times more likely to die in a crash than other road users, and nine times more likely to be injured in a crash than the average passenger in a car.
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Several factors contribute to motorcycle-related accidents. These include weather conditions, road conditions, and the time of day. During the winter months, motorcycle accidents are more common than in the summer. Also, motorcycle riders are more likely to be injured in a crash because they have less protection. This is why the motorcycle-riding community has to be extra vigilant.
The number of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes has been on the decline since the high numbers of the decade. However, the number of fatal crashes still varies from state to state. In 2019, 474 motorcycle accidents in California were fatal. In comparison, 94,172 motorcyclist crashes occurred nationwide.
The most common causes of motorcycle crashes include speeding and failure to yield the right of way. According to the NHTSA, two-thirds of fatal motorcycle accidents occur outside of intersections. In addition, motorcycles are less stable than cars with four wheels, so drivers must exercise extra caution.
The most common form of motorcycle crash involves front-end crashes. Front crashes involve hitting other vehicles head-on. Moreover, the odds of experiencing a front-end crash are higher than those of side-impact or rear-end crashes. The NHTSA also found that motorcycles are more likely to be involved in front-end collisions when there are other cars on the road.
Front-end crashes occur more often on major non-interstate roads than on interstates. Similarly, motorcycle fatalities are more likely to occur during the day than at night. Motorcycle riders should also exercise caution while driving at night because of low visibility and fog.
According to the NHTSA, there are two major risks involved in driving a motorcycle: the first is the risk of falling off, and the second is the risk of being thrown off the bike. To mitigate these risks, drivers should wear helmets and exercise caution while riding. Those who do wear helmets are much less likely to suffer severe head injuries than those who don’t.
The odds of experiencing a fatal motorcycle accident are increased when a driver is impaired. Alcohol impairs a driver’s reaction time, leading to an increased likelihood of a crash. This is also why alcohol-impaired drivers contribute to a greater percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents. Other common causes of motorcycle crashes include speeding, failure to yield the right of way, failure to obey traffic signals, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The motorcycle-riding community is also less likely to be protected from injuries in a crash because motorcycles lack airbags, steel frames, and other safety features.
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