Most people will assume it’s more dangerous to get on the road riding a motorcycle than driving a car. And it’s true. Although motorcycle accidents make up a much smaller percentage of total collisions on Georgia roads, the rates of injury and death are higher. Plus, they’re more likely to involve other harmful factors like alcohol consumption.
That being said, any auto accident on the road is an unfortunate event—and the details matter. Here’s what you need to know about how motorcycle accidents differ from car accidents.
What are the Main Differences Between Motorcycle Accidents and Car Accidents?
First, let’s start with the main similarity: the majority of both motorcycle accidents and car accidents result from speeding or drunk driving—often, a combination. Distracted driving also causes a good portion of these accidents.
But when we dive deeper into these main causes, there are differences in how they happen.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
There is an average of six million car accidents per year in the United States, leaving about three million people injured per year. In 2016, about 34,000 of those were police-reported as fatal.
Car accidents that most often result in deaths involve:
- Reckless driving
- and/or speeding
Alcohol and speeding make up almost half of all car accidents. Sadly, it makes sense. When someone gets behind the wheel while under the influence, they’re likely to make poor judgments—like speeding—resulting in an accident.
In addition, driving while distracted has been reported as a factor in almost one in five collisions where there were injuries. Texting and driving is still a huge issue in car accidents, as well.
Other common causes of car accidents include driver fatigue and aggressive driving like tailgating, frequently changing lanes, failing to yield the right of way, and not following traffic signals.
Top Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents
Like car accidents, about half of single motorcycle accidents result from alcohol use and speeding.
There are also some causes of motorcycle accidents that you don’t see as much with accidents involving two cars:
Cars Making Left-Hand Turns
Many collisions between motorcycles and cars involve a car making a left-hand turn.
Usually, this is because the car’s driver doesn’t see the motorcycle trying to pass them and they make the turn, resulting in a crash.
In Georgia, lane splitting (riding between two lanes on the road) by motorcycles is prohibited. This is because it reduces space on the road and most car drivers are not anticipating it, which can easily lead to an accident.
In addition, motorcycle accidents can also occur if a car driver doesn’t recognize the biker’s right to be on the road and fails to provide enough room for passing legally.
Road Hazards and Other Objects
Motorcycles are smaller than cars. They’re also less stable in a collision. That’s why bikers are more likely to have accidents involving potholes, uneven roads, slippery surfaces, or collisions with fixed objects.
Fatality Rates in Car Versus Motorcycle Accidents
The fatality rates for motorcycle accidents are much higher than car accidents.
According to date from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 10 out of every 100,000 cars were involved in a fatal accident. In comparison, 61 out of every 100,000 motorcycles were involved in a fatal accident.
Bikers also have a higher risk of being in a deadly accident per mile traveled compared to cars in accidents.
The Role of Alcohol
Alcohol is a common factor in both car accidents and motorcycle accidents, but they are more frequent in the latter.
About a fourth of car accidents involve alcohol, compared with one in three motorcycle accidents with alcohol as a factor.
Motorcyclists who lose their lives in a nighttime accident are also three times more likely to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or above compared with fatalities during the day.
Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Accidents Versus Car Accidents
Since motorcycle riders did not have the same level of protection as car drivers, motorcycle injuries tend to be more extreme than car accident injuries.
If a biker isn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, they are at a huge risk for concussions, serious brain damage, or death. Bikers are also more likely to be thrown from their vehicle and slide on the road, causing:
- Road rash or damage to soft tissue
- Broken shoulders or pelvis
- Joint injuries
- Damage to nerves in the upper arms (known as “biker’s arm”), which can cause permanent paralysis
- Facial disfigurement and scarring, especially in the chin area
Both car drivers and motorcyclists can suffer from common accident injuries like whiplash and other head or neck injuries, broken bones, bruising and swelling, cuts and scrapes, spinal damage, knee trauma, internal bleeding, and more.
Anyone involved in either type of accident should seek medical attention right away if their injuries are serious or life-threatening.
Fault in Motorcycle and Car Accidents
Although fault must be determined on a case-by-case basis and there are always exceptions, car drivers are most often at fault in accidents with motorcycles and other vehicles. That’s because other drivers can fail to notice a motorcyclist on the road or not realize when they have the right of way. However, it’s best to speak with an attorney if you’re involved in an accident before admitting any blame or making assumptions. Every accident is different.
Were You Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident or Car Accident?
If you were injured in a car or motorcycle accident, it’s best to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you decide on the best steps moving forward. If you were not at fault for your accident, they can help you file an insurance claim for damages you might be entitled to pursue.
John Foy & Associates can help you with your auto accident case. We have more than 20 years of experienced helping injury victims get the money they need and deserve after their accident. For a FREE consultation to talk about your case today, call us at 404-400-4000 or complete the online form on this page to get started.