Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Although motorcycle accidents do not occur more frequently than other types of accidents, they have a higher chance of causing serious injuries and death. Because of this, it is important for motorcyclists to know and watch out for the most common causes of motorcycle accidents to decrease their chance of risk.

Direction of Collision

56% of motorcycle accidents deaths occur when another vehicle collides with the motorcycle. Cars are far more likely to hit the motorcycle head-on or from the side. Only 5% of motorcycle accidents have a car hit the motorcycle from behind, and 78% of them hit the motorcycle from the front. It’s particularly important to pay attention to the front and sides of your vehicle in intersections, and never assume the drivers around you are going to obey all of the traffic laws.

Left-Hand Turns

Collisions that occur when a car is making a left-hand turn account for 42% of all motorcycle-car accidents. These happen most often when the motorcycle is going straight through the intersection, passing the car, attempting to overtake the car, or passing the car within the same lane. Because of the motorcycle’s reduced size, it is more likely to be unnoticed by the left-turning car.

The vehicle making a left-hand turn is almost always at fault in the event of a collision. However, if the motorcyclist is speeding, in the wrong lane, or otherwise breaking motor vehicle laws, they can be partially at fault for the accident. This means that he or she may have reduced compensation for injuries.

Lane Splitting

When a motorcycle passes between two other vehicles between two lanes, it is known as lane splitting. This causes the likelihood of accidents to rise because the motorcycle is in closer proximity to other vehicles, has less room to maneuver, and car drivers have more difficulty anticipating this type of motorcycle movement.

Deciding fault in a lane splitting case can be tricky, and involves local laws and the actions of both drivers before the accident occurred. Lane splitting is legal in California if the motorcyclist is extremely safe about it, but that doesn’t mean that he or she can’t be partially at fault for an accident involving lane splitting.

Speeding and Alcohol Use

Speeding and alcohol use play a huge role in vehicle accidents of all kinds, including motorcycles. In fact, half of the crashes that involve a single motorcycle also involve speeding or alcohol. As with other types of motorcycle accidents, the lack of protection that a bike offers means that more of these accidents result in extreme injury or death.

Collisions with Fixed Objects

Accidents that happen when a motorcycle collides with a fixed object account for 25% of motorcycle crash deaths, but only 18% of car crash deaths. A motorcyclist is much more likely to be thrown far from the vehicle and sustain serious injury than a driver that is protected by metal, seatbelts, and airbags.

Road Hazards

Motorcycles are smaller, less protected, and less stable than other vehicles. As a result, road hazards such as potholes, road kill, slick roadways, and uneven pavement pose more of a threat.

Specialized High Performance Motorcycles

Although high performance motorcycles account for a small number of overall accidents, they have four times the death rate when accidents do occur. This is because not many people drive these types of vehicles on roadways, but those who do are often taking them out of their intended environment and driving recklessly. The driver may not realize how differently such a motorcycle handles when compared to a regular one.

There are two main types of high performance motorcycles: supersport and sport. Supersport motorcycles are lighter weight with more powerful engines, allowing them to go faster than normal motorcycles. They are built for racing on tracks, not cruising on highways. Most of their drivers are under 30 years old and more likely to take risks. Sport motorcycles have similar problems, but have a lower power-to-weight ratio.


Motorcyclists have a higher risk of sustaining serious injury or even death when accidents occur on the road. However, if the driver knows what to look for and takes steps to drive safely, he or she can greatly reduce their chances of collision.

It’s impossible to avoid all accidents. Even if you are the safest driver in the world, that doesn’t mean that the roadway is safe or that all the drivers around you are just as competent. When an accident does occur, it can help to have an experienced legal team on your side. At Grennier Law, PC, we are well versed in personal injury cases involving motorcycles. We can help make sure you get the most compensation possible out of your personal injury claim. Call today! (805) 643-3900