15 Motorcycle Accidents And How You Avoid Them
Riding a motorcycle is one of the most dangerous activities that an individual can participate in, but there are ways to mitigate the risks involved if you take corrective measures to avoid some of the simple mistakes that lead to the top 15 motorcycle accidents.
Whether it is scanning with your eyes more frequently, utilizing a different lane position, a few simple tricks can help reduce the chances of an accident occurring, which is what matters most to stay on two wheels.
15 - Wet or Slick Roads From Weather
One of the most common mistakes that all motorcyclists make is accidentally riding over some slick water or wet road. The water can be from a runoff, previous rain pattern, or other random act that would cause water to be on the road.
Essentially, as the two wheels of the motorcycle ride over the slick surface, the two wheels will lose traction and cause the upright motorcycle to low side.
Low siding is the act in which the motorcycle continues on its trajectory while the motorcyclist falls towards the ground back first.
How You Avoid Wet or Slick Road Crashes
To avoid wet or slick road crashes, you have to actively scan the road ahead. It is always a good idea in any weather condition to ride in the wake of someone else’s tires, as there is most often more traction over the tire patterns which will then displace dirt, water, or debris that was previously there.
While riding in the wake of someone’s tire won’t completely eliminate the slick road conditions, it is much safer than the middle of the lane where water and other hazards collect.
14 - Collisions With Other Motorcyclists From Not Properly Staggering
In large group rides, motorcyclists tend to stagger their lane positions to provide enough ample room for emergency swerving maneuvers, road hazards, turns, and enough time to change lanes.
When motorcyclists ride together and don’t stagger their lane position, they most often ride side by side.
Some traditional motorcyclists would say that they take up a greater lane position which reduces the odds of another car impeding.
The problem is that by stacking side by side, their room for safety measures is severely reduced and can lead to a great number of accidents that can easily be avoided.
How You Avoid Collisions From Not Staggering
The only way to avoid this is to stagger your lane position with other motorcyclists that you ride with. When you stagger your lane position, you are providing ample room for everyone to make emergency maneuvers if necessary.
13 - Tailgating
There are two different types of tailgating accidents that will be making our list. The first is when you, the motorcyclist, rear end somebody. As motorcyclists, we like to think that our braking power is better than cars because we have more performance parts and less weight to slow down.
Unfortunately, it’s not true. Cars quite simply have more stopping power than motorcycles.
Take into account that most motorcycles don’t have Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS), and it gets even riskier when you have to slam on the brakes quickly.
We’ve all seen those motorcyclists that ride too close to the car in front of them, or we might have even been that individual. Often times those individuals believe that they will have enough time to react or swerve in the event of an emergency, but that’s simply not true.
Nobody wants to slam into the back of a moving vehicle, from riding too closely to them, and avoiding this collision is easy with a few simple tricks everyone can use.
How You Avoid Collisions From Riding Too Close To The Vehicle In Front of You
Previously it was a good mantra to use car lengths as a measuring tool to figure out the proper distance from the vehicle in front of you. That has since changed with additional research, as it is now seconds.
With technology advancements, the immediate following distance recommended is two seconds. A good stopping distance is recommended at four seconds. In order to gauge whether or not you are at an adequate stopping distance, monitor the vehicle in front of you.
As the vehicle passes by a stationary target, count in your head until you yourself pass the same stationary object.
12 - Being Tailgated
One of the greatest fears as a motorcyclist is when somebody tailgates you. The problem with this is that we often feel powerless as to any potential accidents and the outcomes that might arise.
Contrary to popular belief, while you cannot control what the other person is doing behind you, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the motorcycle accidents that might occur.
How To Avoid Collisions From Getting Tailgated
There are a few great ways to avoid motorcycle accidents from getting tailgated, and one of the very best ones is to simply increase stopping distance available.
One of the major mistakes riders make is increasing their speed, hoping to distance themselves from the vehicle behind them. The problem with this is that they often accelerate beyond their skillset, or the vehicle will continue to tailgate no matter what.
Increasing stopping distance means that you have more stopping room, in the event that you have to brake so that you don’t have to do a rapid deceleration that might cause an accident.
The second proven method, is to simply let the tailgater pass when acceptable, don’t try to anger them.
11 - Late Intersection Runners
We’ve all been waiting at an intersection before and it turns green, only for someone to run through on their solid red. These are known as late intersection runners, and often cause a lot of motorcycle accidents.
Motorcyclists often like to jump a light, meaning that they will give the bike a lot of throttle as soon as it goes green for a quick takeoff, which then puts them in harm’s way of these late intersection runners.
How To Avoid Late Intersection Runner Motorcycle Accidents
The best way to avoid these late intersection runners is to wait a second or two after the light turns green. One great technique is to scan the intersection as soon as the light turns green.
Look for any traffic that might appear to be accelerating or maintaining the course. If it appears that some traffic appears to be continuing without showing signs of slowing down, don’t enter the intersection at all.
10 - Blind Side Collisions
Unfortunately, many motorists have a bad habit of checking their blind spots before making any maneuver on the road. Typically these are lane changes, turns, or swerves towards the blind side. It is always a good idea to maintain a good lane position alongside the vehicle or behind the vehicle enough where they can spot you.
How To Avoid Blind Side Collisions
Position yourself in the best possible lane position to ensure that the other motorist notices you are there. In addition, leave yourself enough room in the event that the motorist might see you, but needs to make a quick maneuver.
9 - Cars Merging Into Roadway
Cars merging into a roadway present many challenges for each party involved. First, the driver has to worry about entering the roadway at the appropriate speed so they are focused on that. In addition, they are worried about trying to figure out where everyone is before they enter the roadway.
Motorcycles are a much smaller vehicle and are harder to track for other motorists on the road. Therefore, motorcyclists often go unnoticed and cars will frequently merge and endanger or sideswipe a motorcycle because they didn’t see them.
How To Avoid Merging Car Motorcycle Accidents
The best way to avoid merging car accidents is to constantly be aware of your surroundings at all times. Constantly play out different scenarios in your head as they occur.
If that merging vehicle were to cut across traffic instantly, would you have enough time to maneuver out of their way? It’s also required in some states and countries to automatically switch lane positions to allow the vehicle to merge properly. It’s always good practice to do this anyway.
8 - Target Fixation
One of the easiest pitfalls for motorcyclists is target fixation. Target fixation occurs when a motorcyclist will focus on one object, and it causes them to deviate from their original course because they are focused on it too much.
These collisions most often happen in sharp turns, where the rider will focus on an object that prevents them from initiating more lean to finish the turn.
How To Avoid Target Fixation Motorcycle Accidents
The best way to avoid target fixation motorcycle accidents is to continue scanning through the turn. This means keeping your head raised instead of looking down at the immediate ground in front of you and following through on the turn.
Don’t keep your eyes focused on one single object, but instead keep them moving towards the place you wish to go. Your body has a keen sense of knowing which micro movements to make in order to get to the designated destination.
7 - Debris In Roadway
Debris in the roadway can spell disaster for a motorcyclist if a motorcyclist doesn’t take the necessary steps to combat this common cause for accidents. There are two different types of debris, natural and external.
We previously covered how water is a type of debris that often spells disaster for motorcyclists, but there is also: sand, rocks, pebbles, grease, oil, or miscellaneous foreign objects like mattresses.
Each of the debris above could get their own sub-heading, but they all boil down to a few simple tricks that need to be used when attempting to avoid these pitfalls.
How To Avoid Debris In Roadways
For natural debris that can accumulate over roadways, the best case scenario is to avoid them all together. If you see sand in a turn, grease, oil, or pebbles your best bet is to do your best to avoid them completely.
Most often times, this type of debris will collect in the center of the lanes. If you cannot avoid the debris completely, avoid using your front brake. If you engage your front brake and it locks up while sliding over debris, there is an almost always guarantee that it doesn’t end well. It is better to simply ride over the debris at a slower rate of speed than risk braking.
In terms of external debris like a mattress or foreign object, these are much harder to avoid. Take note of traffic patterns ahead of you and constantly be on guard for suspicious behavior. If people are behaving in an erratic fashion, there is a high likelihood that there is something in the road you should be aware of.
It is also a good practice to not follow behind trailers or vehicles with loads. One large bump might send something flying from the bed of a truck and directly into your path. Practice good lane positioning and avoid load bearing vehicles.
6 - Showboating
Motorcycles have immense power, that much is clear to those who do and don’t ride. The problem with this immense power is that both inexperienced and inexperienced riders tend to show off when they shouldn’t.
Whether it is to impress their friends or put an extra smile on someone’s face, showboating can cause accidents to happen when they shouldn’t.
Showboating can be as simple as accelerating quickly through an intersection, having an inconsistent speed, or needlessly speeding.
How To Avoid Showboating Motorcycle Accidents
Ride within your skillset and make sure you’re doing so legally. Most often, showboating involves breaking the law in some form or fashion. It is important to stay within your skill level and stay safe by following the law.
5 - Vehicles Crossing Marked Lane Pathways
We’ve all been at an intersection with a double turn lane. What this means, is that the first lane goes into the first lane, and the second lane goes into the second lane. Sometimes, motorists forget these basic rules and will often cut across the designated marked lane and impede other drivers.
When this happens, an unsuspecting motorcyclist can get sideswiped.
How To Avoid Vehicles Crossing Marked Lanes
The best way to avoid these motorcycle accidents is by being aware of what everyone’s role is in the intersection. It’s a good habit to observe all intersection signs when approaching.
In doing so, you know your own lane responsibilities, as well as everyone else’s so you can be aware when individuals aren’t following the correct traffic pattern. As always, position yourself in the best possible lane position so that those closest to you are aware.
4 - Vehicles Making an Illegal U-Turn
We’ve all seen videos where cars will pop out of nowhere because they make an illegal U-Turn. Most times, these motorists believe that they can make a U-Turn quickly without impeding other drivers.
How To Avoid U-Turn Collisions
The best way to avoid these types of collisions is to scan automobile tires as you pass them. If they don’t appear to be in the correct direction that traffic is flowing, you know something is amiss.
You have to practice aggressive scanning techniques, and a passive-aggressive driving style to avoid collisions before unsuspecting automobile drivers pull out on you.
3 - Riding Beyond Skill Level
Riding beyond your skill level was briefly touched upon in the showboating mention, but you don’t have to always showboat to ride beyond your skill level. Riding beyond your skill level can simply be taking an aggressive line on a corner, getting up to speed too quickly, or attempting to complete something you’re just not ready for.
How To Avoid Riding Beyond Your Skill Level Motorcycle Accidents
The best way to avoid these careless errors is to always take it slow. Even the most experienced riders take extreme precautions when riding. They drive just as cautiously as they did when they first started. It’s a good habit to get into, as it only takes one careless mistake to no longer be on two wheels.
2 - Improper Clutch Control
One of the biggest problems with beginners on motorcycles is that they don’t have the proper clutch control down. This is when they give too much throttle because the bike isn’t moving forward, and then they release the clutch.
The only problem is that when they release the clutch with the load of throttle they applied, they often lose control quite quickly and go careening to the dirt or into a nearby fence.
How To Avoid Improper Clutch Control Motorcycle Accidents
The best way to avoid these careless errors is to practice good clutch control behavior. Taking the time to learn in a safe environment with little traffic is a good idea. Always release the clutch slowly with a little throttle. It only takes a little throttle and proper clutch control to get the bike moving forward.
1 - T-Bones
This is by far the most common and dangerous motorcycle accident. This occurs when somebody cuts in front of the motorcyclist because of a common pair of reasons:
1) They didn’t see the motorcyclist, or
2) They couldn’t judge the motorcyclist’s speed.
How To Avoid T-Bone Motorcycle Accidents
There are a few great ways to avoid these types of motorcycle accidents. The first is to practice good lane position riding techniques. Position yourself in the most visible location for other motorists.
Secondly, it’s always a good idea to drive with your lights on. Some motorcycles have dim running lights until the sun goes down, and it wouldn’t hurt to have your high beams on. Another great tip to avoid these motorcycle accidents is to practice good passive-aggressive driving.
This means that in the event of someone cutting across your lane you know two ways to avoid the accident. You either
A) have created enough stopping distance to avoid the collision or
B) have picked a pathway to follow to reduce the collision trajectory.
It is important to understand and recognize the top fifteen causes and types of motorcycle accidents that can happen on a daily ride. Understanding what causes and how to prevent these motorcycle accidents from happening will help make you a safer rider overall.
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