What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
What Are the Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

*This post was originally published on August 27, 2018. It has been updated to include new information.

Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation, and the use of motorcycles on U.S. roadways is anticipated to continue to increase. There were roughly 8.4 million registered motorcycles in the U.S. in 2011. And while motorcycles only made up 3% of registered vehicles in the U.S., they accounted for 14% of all motor vehicle accidents, and 5% of motor vehicle fatalities.

Motorcycle accidents are significantly more deadly than other motor vehicle accidents. According to data from 2006, there were 35 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than from car accidents, per mile traveled. The lack of protection provided by motorcycles, compared with other vehicles, is an important factor in the fatality rate. Moreover, the small size of motorcycles often causes them to go unnoticed by other drivers, which can lead to accidents.

Distracted Driving Contributing to Motorcycle Accidents

There are several major causes of motorcycle crashes, but one that is increasingly common is distracted driving. In fact, an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that distracted drivers were to blame for nearly 40% of all motorcycle accidents in the state of Wisconsin. There is no available data for the percentage of motorcycle accidents caused by distracted drivers in California, but it is presumably quite high as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving is a major cause of motorcycle accidents nationwide, causing 20,000 motorcyclist injuries and 400-500 deaths each year.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

While distracted driving contributes to thousands of motorcycle accidents each year, it is not the only cause of motorcycle crashes. The following are some of the other major causes of motorcycle accidents in the U.S.:

  1. Cars making left hand turns. This is the most dangerous situation for a motorcyclist. In fact, cars turning left and striking motorcycles make up 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle.
  2. Head-on collisions. In 78% of motorcycle accident deaths involving another vehicle, the vehicle strikes the motorcycle from the front. These accidents are most often fatal for the motorcyclist involved.
  3. Speeding. The NHTSA considers a crash to be speeding-related if the operator of the vehicle involved was charged with a speeding offense, or if the responding officer cited speed as a contributing factor in the crash. In 2013, 34% of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding. In comparison, that same year, 21% of passenger car drivers and 18% of light-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
  4. Alcohol impairment. In 2014, 30% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved a motorcyclist with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. Riding under the influence is against the law, and it puts the rider at a significantly higher risk of being involved in an accident.
  5. Motorcycles lane splitting. Lane splitting helps motorcyclists get through traffic more quickly, but it can also be dangerous. Drivers are often not looking out for motorcyclists that are lane splitting, which can lead to the motorcycle being hit. Lane splitting reduces the space the motorcycle has to maneuver. If a vehicle fails to see the motorcycle and attempts to change lanes, it can easily lead to a serious accident.
  6. Colliding with a fixed object. Motorcyclists crashing into fixed objects account for 25% of motorcyclist deaths, compared with 18% of car accident fatalities. This discrepancy can most likely be attributed to motorcyclists lacking the protection a vehicle offers.
  7. Road hazards. Road hazards such as potholes, roadkill, loose gravel, and other unexpected objects in the roadway can be far more dangerous for motorcyclists than they are for other vehicles. Motorcycles are smaller and less stable than other vehicles, so encountering these objects on the road can easily lead to accidents.

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. If you plan to pursue a personal injury claim, contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to begin working on your case.

“Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable on the road, as their vehicles are smaller and more exposed than cars and trucks. Bikers and drivers alike should be looking out for the safety of motorcyclists on the road,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, El Centro, and Yucca Valley, and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

Recent Posts
Popular Tags

Walter Clark Legal Group

Walter Clark Legal Group

We use essential cookies to make our site work. With your consent, we may also use non- essential cookies to improve user experience and analyze website traffic. By clicking "Accept," you agree to our website's cookie use as described in our Cookie Policy. You can change your cookie settings at any time by clicking "Preferences."