Motorcycles make up a very small portion of the total registered vehicles on the road, but they are involved in a disproportionately large number of accidents. There are several reasons for this that make motorcycle accidents distinctly different than car accidents.
Not only are motorcyclists more likely to be in accidents that cause injuries or deaths, but they are also more likely to get injured or die in alcohol-related crashes in comparison with car drivers. Other causes of motorcycle accidents versus car accidents are uniquely different.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents Versus Car Accidents
Both motorcycle accidents and car accidents are commonly caused by alcohol, distracted driving, speeding—or a combination of two or more. The exact causes of each type of accident vary in different ways.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Accidents with motorcyclists are most often caused by:
- Other motorists making a left-hand turn without checking for a passing or overtaking motorcycle
- Alcohol use and/or speeding (making up about half of all single motorcycle accidents)
- Lane splitting, which involves a motorcycle driving between two lanes of traffic and is illegal in Georgia (according to Georgia Code § 40-6-312)
- Road hazards like potholes, traffic debris from other vehicles, uneven roads, wet roads, or other dangerous roadway conditions
- Collisions with fixed objects (making up about a fourth of all motorcycle accident deaths)
Since cars are not small enough to fit between lanes like motorcycles, lane splitting accidents are unique to motorcycles. Car accidents can be caused by fixed object collisions and road hazards, but they are less common compared to motorcycle accidents.
Now, to compare, let’s look at some of the most common reasons car accidents happen.
Causes of Car Accidents
Most car accidents happen due to driver error (either the driver of the car or another vehicle). Less-common causes of car accidents involve other factors like dangerous road conditions, weather, and brake failure or tire issues.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:
- Alcohol use and/or speeding (making up almost half of all car accidents)
- Distracted driving, especially from the driver using their cell phone
- Aggressive driving, such as ignoring traffic signals, failing to yield the right of way, reckless tailgating, and changing lanes frequently
- Driver fatigue
As you can see, the use of alcohol and/or speeding makes up a large portion of both motorcycle accidents and car accidents. Distracted driving, driver fatigue, and aggressive driving are more commonly the cause of car accidents, although they can be factors in motorcycle accidents in some cases.
Motorcycle Accidents Have a Higher Fatality Rate
According to traffic deaths in 2018 from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,985 motorcyclists killed that year. The NHTSA also reports that motorcycle riders are around 28 times more likely to die in a traffic crash (per vehicle miles traveled) compared with those traveling in passenger cars.
Although motorcyclists only make up about three percent of all registered vehicles, they account for 14% of all traffic-related deaths on the roads. While there are far fewer motorcyclists killed than car drivers each year, the rate of death is much, much higher.
Injuries Are Also More Common in Motorcycle Accidents
Besides having a higher fatality rate, motorcycle accidents are also more dangerous overall. Someone riding a motorcycle does not have the benefit of a huge steel car all around them. Besides their protective gear, motorcyclists are easily exposed to the open road and elements if they get involved in a collision.
Injuries that are more common in motorcycle accidents compared with car accidents include:
- Road rash from the biker’s body sliding across the pavement
- Concussion or other traumatic brain injuries, especially if the rider was not wearing an approved helmet
- Biker’s arm that can cause nerve damage and permanent paralysis
- Joint injuries
- Broken shoulders and/or pelvis
- Facial disfigurement, especially involving the chin
Motorcycle accidents have a high rate of injury, especially those involving sportbikes or supersport motorcycles. While injuries are very common in car accidents too, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer serious injuries in accidents that could leave car drivers and passengers with more minor injuries.
Alcohol in Motorcycle Accidents Versus Car Accidents
Alcohol is also more likely to be involved in motorcycle accidents compared to car crashes, although it is common in both.
According to NHTSA statistics from 2018, the percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher (above the legal limit) in fatal crashes was highest for motorcyclists at 25%. In comparison, drivers of passenger cars made up 21% of drivers with BAC above 0.08.
Other Ways Motorcycle Accidents Are Different from Car Accidents
Motorcyclists face additional risks that make being on the road more dangerous than for car drivers. Here are some challenges motorcycle riders face:
- Lower visibility for other vehicles, making it easier for other drivers to not see motorcycles or know where to check for them
- Less protection from lack of airbags, seat belts, or other protective situations besides protective clothing and helmets
- Greater risk of injury or death when coming across road hazards
- Shorter stopping distances that can cause a rear-end accident if the rear motorist is not keeping a safe distance
- Unfair perceptions of all bikers being reckless or having devil-may-care attitudes on the roads
Motorcyclists are also more likely to face aggressive behavior from insurance companies when they try to make an insurance claim for damages. Since motorcycle accidents can be so serious, they can cost more money than other types of accidents. An insurance company is more likely to look for ways to reduce their costs when presented with a costly motorcycle accident claim.
Since motorcycle accidents can be more dangerous and deadly than car accidents, injured motorcyclists should definitely seek legal help if they become the victim of an accident. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help support your legal rights and protect you from getting taken advantage of.
Get a Free Consultation with a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
At John Foy & Associates, we have 20 plus years of experience helping injured bikers win the compensation they deserve. Let us help you, too, starting with a FREE, no-risk consultation. We also never charge you a fee unless we win money in your case.
To get started with your FREE consultation today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.