Motorcycle Accidents and How To Prevent Them

Motorcycle accidents can happen to everybody. Even the most cautious riders can be a victim of others on the road.  I have split up this article in a guide about what to do to prevent accidents at the top, and what to do after an accident has happened at the bottom.

Motorcyclists have about 30 times more deaths per mile traveled compared to cars. This isn’t purely to blame on the motorcyclists themselves, as cars tend to be the cause of quite some accidents. The people inside the car are way more likely to survive however. That said, if you love riding and you love living, you may want to find out about how to improve your safety.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

In order to prevent accidents, we have to understand what causes the most of them. The two largest reports on specifically motorcycle accidents are the Hurt report and the MAIDS report.

Hurt Report

The Hurt report was done in 1981 in the US, centering mainly on Los Angeles. Due to it being one of the oldest comprehensive studies, almost all findings have already been put in practice. Despite that, I believe it is still a good idea to revisit their conclusions.

Two findings that surprised me in their low rate of occurrence were:

  • In less than 3% of accidents, vehicle failure was a cause. If it was, it was almost always the tires that gave out. While 3% may seem low, it is mostly preventable.
  • In about 2% of accidents, weather was a factor.

The report also includes over 50 conclusions that note which factors correlate strongly with motorcycle accidents. A few of the notable conclusions were:

  • Most motorcycle accidents happen on short trips.
  • Most motorcycle accidents happen at the start of a trip.
  • Most motorcycle accidents happen with new and young.
  • Most motorcycle accidents happen on intersections.
  • In almost half of the accidents, view of one of the participants was obstructed (by either glare or objects).
  • Motorcyclist themselves have at least partial blame over 50% of the time. Most common errors are braking too wildly, and taking corners too widely.

The Hurt report further mentions factors such as not wearing a motorcycle helmet, which was quite an issue back in 1981 (over 60% of riders didn’t wear one). Most of those factors however should come as absolutely no surprise.

MAIDS report

The MAIDS (Motorcycle Accidents In Depth Study) report was conducted in 1999-2000 in five different countries in the EU. The findings in the MAIDS report were pretty similar to the Hurt report. Most accidents happened at intersections (54.3%), and in most cases a passenger car is involved as well (60%).

Aside from pure accident data, also the added safety from wearing a helmet was studied. Unsurprisingly, helmets really do help, and interestingly were found to never harm riders during accidents.

How to prevent motorcycle accidents

The biggest two are not speeding and not drinking. It is rather interesting that most accidents can be prevented by not doing stupid things rather than putting effort into additional measures.

A somewhat common sentiment with speeding is that people that speed will only speed at places they deem “safe to speed”. Keep in mind however, that no-one is going to speed at a place where they think it is unsafe to speed. Still, speeding causes many unnecessary deaths. If you ever speed, I strongly recommend you reconsider.

Aside from speeding and drinking, there are also a few measures that can be proactively taken to decrease the chances of accidents. One of them is wearing conspicuous clothing. Wearing one of those bright orange safety vests over your normal clothing for example significantly reduces the accident rate. Since over half of the accidents are caused by some people not seeing other people, wearing bright clothing makes a very significant impact.

Of course not everyone likes wearing bright safety vests, and I personally think that is very understandable. That said, please don’t wear 100% black on your black motorcycle. Try to at least be somewhat visible.

Lastly, riding courses specifically aimed at for example gaining more experience with counter steering can help as well. In most motorcycle accidents the motorcyclist has less than 2 seconds to react and prevent the accident, which is often not enough. However, with training it is possible to increase your proficiency, and even a thousandth of a second can make the difference.

How to prevent motorcycle related injuries

The best way to prevent injuries is not getting into a motorcycle accident in the first place. But even if you don’t drink, don’t speed, wear bright clothing, and take your training seriously, accidents still happen.

The most obvious way to prevent injuries is to wear protective clothing. A full face helmet is pretty much a must have, but plenty of people don’t take their motorcyle jackets, pants, gloves, and boots too seriously.

Most injuries involve feet, and the groin area is involved frequently as well. The best protective clothing may be expensive, but it often lasts a long time, and in case of an accident it can save you many times their initial cost in medical costs. A good set of protective clothing includes a full face helmet, and armored boots, gloves, jacket and pants.

There is also a very rarely mentioned factor when it comes to motorcycle injuries, which is how fit you are. Physically fit people can handle stronger forces on their bodies before they are seriously injured. So hitting the gym somewhat regularly can prevent motorcycle injuries as well.

What to do when a motorcycle accident happens

First off, make sure there is no further danger. Make sure everyone is in a safe location (not the middle of the road). Then call the emergency services and try to tend to urgent injuries. Secondly clean up the road to prevent further injuries from happening.

As soon as immediate danger has passed, make pictures of everything. Write out exactly what happened, and try to get the story signed by all people present. That helps with insurance matters down the road. Chances are you will have to make a report to the police as well.

Next up you should go to your physician for a checkup. Even if nothing seems to be wrong immediately, the sudden forces from a collision can cause all kinds of harm. If your physician recommends you to do certain exercises, make sure you really do those exercises.

Right now you can also contact your insurance, and make your report to them. You can include all the pictures you took before, which will likely speed up matters quite a bit. However, if it turns out you do have any injuries; you may want to contact a personal injury lawyer. Those lawyers can help both with your insurance claim as well as potential compensation for the accident itself.

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