It almost goes without saying that motorcycles offer significantly less crash protection than standard passenger vehicles. Whether at high speeds or even at lower speeds, an accident involving a motorcycle can easily result in catastrophic damage to riders.
This raises the question of at what speed most motorcycle accidents actually happen. Motorcyclists and other drivers on the road can all benefit from understanding the circumstances surrounding common crash factors so that everyone can exercise appropriate caution during dangerous situations.
What Speed Is Common for Motorcycle Accidents?
The National Safety Council reports 3,354 motorcycle traffic deaths in urban areas for the year 2020, constituting around 61% of overall motorcycle traffic deaths for that year. This includes city streets and busy intersections, often far away from high-speed highways.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration similarly reports that 42% of data motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle occur at intersections. Intersection crash scenarios often involve left-hand turns during which other drivers do not notice a motorcycle also attempting a turn or pass within the intersection.
These statistics indicate that most motorcycle accidents actually occur during intersection turns or in high-traffic areas where a motorcycle is moving at speeds as low as 30 mph or below. Many factors may contribute to the likelihood of both low-speed accidents and high-speed crashes. It is important to understand these factors as well as the danger that a collision at any speed can pose to riders and other motorists involved.
What Are Frequent Causes of Low-Speed Motorcycle Accidents?
Considering that so many motorcycle accidents happen at relatively lower speeds, it is important for all individuals on the road to acknowledge factors that can cause these otherwise avoidable crashes to occur so commonly.
When turning at an intersection, motorists must pay attention to more of their environment and make more decisions than they do anywhere else on the road. It is necessary to watch traffic in the destination lane, be mindful of traffic in other nearby lanes and watch for pedestrians, all while obeying traffic laws and acting in a timely manner. Amidst all this, it can be easy for a motorcycle to slip into a driver’s blind spot as they begin the turning maneuver.
Lane splitting, which differs from lane filtering, is an illegal act in the state of Utah that entails riding a motorcycle between lanes of moving traffic. Many drivers do not anticipate the presence of a motorcycle in the space between lanes, leading to situations where a driver might attempt a lane change and ultimately collide with a motorcyclist in their blind spot.
Motorcyclists and other drivers are equally susceptible to distractions created by electronic devices and other forms of stimulus. A momentary lapse in focus is all it takes to create a dangerous situation, even at low speeds.
What Are Frequent Causes of High-Speed Motorcycle Accidents?
Though most motorcycle accidents occur in urban areas or at intersections where vehicles travel at lower speeds, high-speed accidents are unfortunately common as well. Collisions between fast-moving vehicles can be particularly catastrophic, so it is in everyone’s best interest to know some of the frequent causes of these types of accidents.
Driving under the influence of alcohol means impaired judgment and reaction time for the intoxicated individual. In addition to being blatantly illegal, driving under the influence can be especially dangerous in high-speed situations where even the most aware driver might have precious little time to react to hazards on the road.
Debris, potholes and weather hazards all increase the likelihood of an accident. Motorcyclists traveling at low speeds can more easily navigate these hazards safely, but it can be difficult or even impossible to properly react when moving at 60 mph or more.
Many highways provide a posted speed limit of 70 mph, a speed which already allows for very little time to react when a potential accident situation arises. Motorists who exceed the speed limit are responsible for endangering themselves and any other drivers they encounter along the way.
What Should Motorcyclists Do After an Accident?
Every motor vehicle accident has the potential to cause devastating damage and injury, so all motorists should follow the appropriate series of actions after an accident of any severity. Considering that most motorcycle crashes occur at relatively low speeds, it is particularly important to remain aware of proper procedures even after these seemingly low-intensity collisions.
Safety and health are the top priorities after any accident. Individuals should immediately check themselves, their passengers and other parties involved in the accident for injuries. After confirming everyone’s condition, the next step is to safely move away from the flow of traffic.
Wait for Help
As soon as reasonably possible, either party involved in the accident should call 911 and request the presence of law enforcement and medical responders. If anyone sustains an injury, the proactive course of action is to explain the situation to the receiver and follow any emergency instructions given.
All parties involved in the accident should wait for law enforcement to arrive before taking any other action. Motorcyclists should keep their helmets and any other safety gear on while waiting for medical attention. Attempting to remove a helmet can worsen any injuries to the head or spine, so it is crucial to only attempt removal if the motorcyclist is struggling to breathe otherwise.
Motorists should exchange information with one another for insurance purposes before leaving the scene, but only after receiving proper medical attention. It can also be a good practice to request contact information from witnesses and bystanders in case their testimony becomes necessary if an insurance claim meets resistance.
Document the Accident
Collecting evidence can strengthen a motorist’s case for a personal injury claim. Proper documentation of an accident includes taking photos of the damage, identifying officers at the scene and noting any other outstanding circumstances or strange behaviors.
Contact the Insurance Company
Contacting the insurance company to start the claims process early on can be practical for facilitating smooth negotiations. Motorists involved in an accident should report the damage to their insurers immediately, but they should also be careful about how much information they provide before first speaking with a lawyer or taking time to fully collect their thoughts.
Consult With a Lawyer
It is a good idea to involve a lawyer in the process from an early stage in case it becomes necessary to pursue legal action following an accident. This could be action against an insurer that refuses to pay a fair settlement or action against the driver at-fault for your accident who is not taking responsibility.
Your Legal Options Following a Motorcycle Accident
A key point to keep in mind when riding a motorcycle through urban areas is that most motorcycle accidents occur at speeds below 30 mph. If you experience a collision, even at these relatively low speeds, it is crucial that you do not underestimate the severity of the situation.
When an accident occurs due to the negligence of another driver, you are well within your rights to pursue a personal injury claim and secure the compensation you deserve. Contact the team at Siegfried and Jensen for assistance in building up a case that can stand against insurance companies in court.