The age-old debate on whether motorcycles are more dangerous than cars continues to rev its engine. While motorcycles offer a sense of freedom and thrill on the open road, they also come with inherent risks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that 5,014 motorcyclist fatalities occurred in 2019. In fact, motorcyclist deaths accounted for about 14% of all motor vehicle crash deaths.
Importantly, the injured motorcyclist is most often not to be blamed for a motorcycle crash. If you or someone you love was injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have a right to claim damages from a negligent car, SUV, or truck driver. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you gather evidence to build a strong case and prove liability.
Factors Contributing to the Perceived Danger of Motorcycles on California Roads
Here are some of the key factors contributing to the dangers of motorcycles:
Exposure to the Elements
Motorcycles offer minimal protection compared to the enclosed structure of cars leading to more fatal accidents. Motorcycle riders are exposed to the elements, and in the event of an accident, especially with pickup trucks, the risk of injury is often more significant. Cars provide a protective shell, adding a layer of safety for occupants.
Size and Visibility
The compact size of motorcycles can make them less visible to other registered vehicles, especially in heavy traffic. Motorcycle accidents caused due to low visibility can lead to severe or fatal injuries, including traumatic brain injury.
Maneuverability and Agility
While motorcycles are more agile and can weave through traffic with ease, this very maneuverability can be a double-edged sword. Riders need to be highly skilled to handle sudden maneuvers, and even then, the risk of a serious motorcycle crash due to misjudgments or unexpected road conditions remains.
Lack of Structural Protection
Cars are equipped with a sturdy structure designed to absorb impact during a collision. Motorcycles lack this structural protection, leaving riders vulnerable to direct impact. The absence of safety features like airbags and seat belts further heightens the risk.
Skill Level and Training
Operating a motorcycle demands a higher level of skill and training than driving a car. Novice riders, in particular, may find it challenging to handle the nuances of motorcycle operation. This is why many motorcycle accidents occur in complex traffic scenarios.
Perceived Risk-Taking Behavior
Motorcycles are often associated with a perception of speed and a sense of daring. Some riders may engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as excessive speeding or weaving through traffic, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Cars, with their enclosed and more stable structure, may discourage such risky behaviors. However, a negligent driver in an enclosed vehicle can create certain conditions on the road that get motorcyclists killed.
Road Conditions and External Factors
Motorcycles are more sensitive to road conditions, including uneven surfaces, gravel, and weather changes. These factors pose additional challenges for riders and may lead to serious or fatal injuries. Cars, with their four-wheel stability and better traction, are generally less affected by such road conditions. As a result, motorcycle fatalities are higher compared to fatalities in car accidents.
Advantages and Limitations of Motorcycles Compared to Cars
Motorcycles have several advantages, but there are also trade-offs, and the choice between a motorcycle and a car depends on individual preferences, lifestyle, and specific needs. Safety considerations, weather conditions, and the type of commute are important factors to weigh when deciding between the two modes of transportation.
Benefits of Motorcycles Over Passenger Cars
- Easy Maneuverability
- Parking Ease
- Cost of Ownership
- Sensory Experience
- Less Commute Time
- Lower Environmental Impact
- Low Maintenance Costs Per Vehicle Miles Traveled
Disadvantages of Motorcycles Over Cars
- Safety Concerns
- Weather Impact
- Limited Passenger Capacity
- Less Storage Space
- Road Hazards
- Limited Visibility
- Noise and Exhaust
- Limited Comfort
- High-Speed Risks
Importance Of Safety Gear for Motorcyclists in California
Safety gear is a fundamental aspect of riding, providing critical protection and minimizing the severity of motorcycle injuries in the event of accidents. Each component serves a specific purpose, collectively ensuring the well-being of riders on the road. For instance, a helmet is a primary protection against serious injuries. It absorbs impact forces during accidents, reducing the risk of severe trauma and protecting the rider’s most vital organ.
Designed for abrasion resistance, motorcycle riding suits or pants protect the lower body in the event of a fall or collision, minimizing the risk of leg injuries. Gloves provide impact protection for the hands, maintaining a rider’s ability to control the motorcycle and reducing the risk of hand injuries. Additional armor at joints adds protection against impacts, protecting vulnerable areas of the body during accidents.
Common Myths about Motorcycle Safety
- Helmets are Uncomfortable and Restrictive: Modern helmets offer ventilation, padded interiors, and ergonomic designs, providing protection without compromising rider comfort.
- Only New Riders Need Safety Training: Ongoing safety training benefits riders of all experience levels. Refresher courses enhance skills and keep riders updated on the latest safety practices.
- Safety Gear Is Only for High-Speed Riding: Accidents can happen at any speed. Safety gear, including wearing helmets, jackets, gloves, and boots, provides protection in various riding scenarios.
- Riding Close to the Center Line is Always Safer: Riding too close to the center line can be hazardous due to oncoming traffic. Proper lane positioning, visibility considerations, and defensive riding are more critical. You should always maintain your motorcycle and check its tire pressure.
- Only Riders Can Prevent Accidents: Accidents can result from various factors, including the actions of other road users. Safe riding involves shared responsibility on the road.
Tips For Staying Safe on The Road for Both Motorcyclists and Car Drivers
Whether you are on two wheels or four, prioritizing safety on the road is important. These are a few essential tips for motorcyclists and car drivers alike:
- Stay Visible: Motorcyclists should utilize reflective gear and brightly colored clothing to enhance visibility. Drivers of other vehicles should be vigilant and check mirrors for motorcycles, particularly in blind spots.
- Follow Traffic Rules: Adherence to speed limits, traffic signals, and road signs is necessary for both motorcyclists and car drivers. This ensures a smoother and safer flow of traffic.
- Stay Defensive: Motorcyclists need to anticipate potential hazards and ride defensively. Car drivers should remain alert to unexpected actions from other road users, preventing fatal injuries and creating a safer environment for everyone.
- Avoid Blind Spots: Motorcyclists should steer clear of car and truck blind spots. Car drivers should always check blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes to prevent accidents.
- Avoid Distractions: Distractions compromise safety. Riders should stay focused on the road, and car drivers should avoid distractions, especially using phones while driving.
The leading cause of high death rate of riders in motorcycle crashes (compared to larger passenger vehicles) is not loose gravel, slippery surfaces, or lack of eye protection. Instead, it is being hit by other drivers that behave in a reckless or negligent manner.
If you meet with an accident because of the negligent actions of another driver, you should speak with a skilled and resourceful motorcycle accident attorney quickly.
Get Legal Representation from a Dedicated Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
At the Law Offices of Brown & Gessell, our experienced personal injury attorneys represent riders like you who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. We will do what it takes to hold the negligent motorists liable and obtain the largest possible compensation you rightfully deserve. Schedule your free initial consultation with our lawyers today. Call us at (209) 583-3938 or contact us online.