Motorcycle riders in Maryland are many in number, but they are also often at an elevated risk of being in an accident. Because motorcycle drivers are not protected by the structure of their vehicle like car drivers are, it can put them at an increased risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries when they are struck. Studies show that motorcyclists are actually at a 27 times higher risk of death when struck compared to passengers in a traditional car. They are also at an increased risk of injury when struck compared to drivers and passengers in a traditional passenger vehicle. Understanding what causes motorcycle accidents is a good way to prevent yourself from being involved in one. What are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Maryland?
1. Road Conditions
Motorcycles are often at a disadvantage during the rain and during periods of snow and ice due to their small size. Slippery surfaces, uneven pavement, roadway debris and other inconsistencies in the surface can lead to serious motorcycle accidents. This is because motorcycles are smaller and have less stability than four-wheeled passenger vehicles. Conditions where passenger cars could easily drive and navigate through the road can prove fatal for motorcycle drivers.
2. Head-On Collisions
Recent data shows that crashes between another vehicle and a motorcycle are the cause of over 50% of motorcycle accident deaths. 78% of those fatal accidents are head-on collisions. This is one of the most common causes of serious motorcycle injuries because motorcyclists have much less protection against a bigger vehicle and against the speed and velocity of a traditional car.
To avoid head-on collisions, you should always follow the four Rs outlined by the National Safety Council: read the road ahead, drive to the right, reduce your speed or ride off the road. By defensively driving, you can avoid accidents including head-on collisions and save your life or the life of someone else.
3. Lane Splitting
There is a reason why lane splitting is not legal, and it’s because it is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. Lane splitting is when a motorcycle will drive in between two cars, which can happen frequently in Maryland due to a traffic jam. Cars are not anticipating a motorcycle trying to cut between them and another car, which can lead to an accident. It’s never a good idea to practice this dangerous driving move as a driver.
4. Left-Turning Cars
One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is left-turning cars. 42% of accidents that involve a motorcycle and a car occur specifically in this situation. This can happen when the motorcycle is trying to drive straight through the intersection, trying to overtake the car or trying to pass the car. While this accident happens all the time with two traditional passenger cars, it is much more dangerous for motorcycles due to the lack of protection.
5. Lane Switching
When you drive behind most large trucks, you’ll see a sticker notifying you that they cannot see you if you cannot see their mirrors. Blind spots are a big problem when switching lanes, and they pose extra risk to motorcycles that are much smaller than typical cars or trucks. You cannot always see a motorcycle behind or next to you when you are changing lanes. When you are operating your motorcycle, you should always take care to look for signs that another car is about to change lanes. Turn signals coming on, a driver checking their mirrors frequently, the wheels turning and the driver swiveling their head to look are all signs that you should be prepared for the driver to make a move.
Tragically, intoxication remains a large cause of motorcycle accidents. Whether it is the driver of the car hitting the motorcycle driver, the motorcycle driver or a combination of the two, these accidents are completely preventable. Alcohol and drug use play a serious role in fatal motorcycle accidents, and taking the time to call a designated driver instead of attempting to drive yourself home could save your life. A motorcycle will provide you with very little protection, and alcohol intoxication alone increases your chance of serious injury due to a slower response time and poorer judgment. Driving while intoxicated is illegal for a reason, and you should never attempt to do it. When you are drinking at dinner or at a bar, limit yourself to one beer or drink per hour. Stop yourself at three drinks over the course of three hours, or make plans to call a friend, schedule an Uber or taxi or find another way home. Your life is not worth this risk.
Help for Motorcycle and Auto Accident Victims
Hoffman, Comfort, Offutt, Scott & Halstad LPP is an established law practice dedicated to assisting auto accident victims throughout Maryland. If you have been impacted by any of the common causes of motorcycle accidents, we can help to assess your situation and determine the best path forward for you. It’s important to speak with a lawyer before you go on the record with an insurance company. We specialize in wills, estates, trusts, family law, personal injury law, business law, elder law and real estate law. To get in touch or schedule your consultation, call us at your convenience at (410) 848-4444. We are here to help you get the restitution that you deserve and start on the path to healing after a motorcycle accident.