For riders, there’s nothing better than the traveling trifecta: an open road, wind on the face, and freedom. Riding a motorcycle is a great way for enthusiasts to build new friendships, reduce stress, and clear the mind. In fact, studies show riding a motorbike can improve a person’s mental health and brain activity.
While hopping onto a motorcycle is great, it’s not all rosy. When compared to passenger cars, light trucks, and even airplanes, riding is the most dangerous method of transportation. There are more than 5,000 people killed on motorcycles each year.
As for injuries, motorcycle riders who crash are at risk of:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Lower-extremity injuries
- Fractured or broken bones
- Road rash
Why? Because a lot can go wrong on the road, even for the safest of riders. And on an open bike, a traveler is especially vulnerable to severe or fatal injuries.
While cyclists can’t prevent all accidents, you can know what to watch out for. Here are the seven common motorcycle crashes and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Head-On Collisions
Head-on collisions are the most fatal type of accident on this list. In fact, they account for more than half of all motorcycle deaths.
As the name suggests, a head-on collision happens when two traveling vehicles crash head-on.
Unfortunately, when the majority of these accidents happen, the driver of the car is at fault. So as a rider, you may not always be able to avoid a head-on collision. But you can practice defensive driving whenever you’re on the road. You can also make a commitment to drive at safe speeds and be ready to maneuver to a shoulder if necessary.
2. Left Turn Collisions
Every rider has experienced it. You’re keeping up with traffic, making yourself seen, and hoping the other drivers are staying alert. Then the car ahead of you attempts a left-hand turn.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough time to slow down or stop. If not, a collision might be unavoidable.
The big question is: Are these crashes avoidable? Not always. But it may help to watch for these warning signs that someone is about to make a turn:
- The car is in an intersection
- You notice that the driver looks both ways (left and right)
- There is a gap in the traffic ahead of you
If you pick up on any of these signs, preemptively slow your speed. It’s always better to assume that a soon-to-be turning driver does not see you.
3. Lane Splitting Collisions
The potential to split lanes, or drive between two rows of traffic, is a major reason why riders opt for bikes over cars. It’s a great way to speed through traffic when congestion is heavy.
Unfortunately, it’s also an illegal maneuver in the state of Texas, even if this regulation is not always heavily enforced. That means any lane-splitting accident is the fault of the rider.
Lane splitting is illegal because it’s dangerous. With limited space between vehicles, there is a much smaller margin of error. The solution to lane-splitting accidents? Just don’t do it.
4. Lane Switching Collisions
Many drivers forget to keep an eye out for motorcycles. And since riders are much smaller than passenger vehicles, they’re easy to miss. That’s why lane-switching vehicles can be dangerous to bikers.
Most often, these accidents happen on four-lane roads when a rider moves into the other driver’s blind spot.
To avoid a lane-switching collision, try to keep a safe distance from other vehicles. As you approach slower vehicles, make sure you can see the driver’s face in their side-view mirror.
You can also watch for the obvious signs that a driver is about to switch lanes, which includes:
- The vehicle’s front wheels begin to turn
- The driver moves their head as though checking blind spots
- The turn signal comes on
- The driver checks their mirrors
As always, it helps to drive defensively and stay alert.
5. Sudden Stop Collisions
When a vehicle stops suddenly, the chance of getting rear-ended increases. Motorcyclists can find themselves on either end of this situation, but both scenarios are dangerous.
To protect yourself from sudden stop collisions, follow these tips:
- Maintain a safe cushion of space between your bike and other vehicles
- Be especially wary of larger vehicles that take longer to stop
- Operate your bike at safe speeds
- Travel safely through school zones and areas of construction
- Wear protective gear, including reflective clothing
Sudden stops are extremely dangerous, so follow these tips and stay safe while riding.
6. Driving Under the Influence
Alcohol and motorcycles are never a safe combo. Unfortunately, riders driving under the influence account for nearly a third of all motorcycle accidents.
Riding is often a social excursion. But if you’re at a bar and you know you’ll be riding later, opt for a non-alcoholic beverage or plan to call an Uber or catch a ride with a sober friend.
Remember, driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is not just dangerous — it’s also illegal.
7. High-Speed Collisions
Riders love speed, and motorcycles go fast. Some high-performance bikes can reach speeds upwards of 160 mph. And while this is very cool, it’s dangerous, as well.
If you’re itching to test the limits, investigate any local, legal drag racing courses. That way, you can reach high speeds without endangering other travelers.
Don’t Forget to Call an Attorney After Your Accident
If you do become involved in a collision, call an attorney immediately. That way, you can protect yourself in the case of charges, claims, excessive damages, and more. A skilled personal injury attorney can even help you to negotiate with insurance adjusters.
The cost of a motorcycle crash can grow rapidly. An attorney will help to ensure that your needs are represented, that your side of the story is told, and that you receive the compensation you deserve.