Motorcycle crashes are rare but devastating when they occur. Although motorcycles represent only a fraction of the total vehicles registered each year, they are often involved in some of the worst possible collisions. The size difference between four-wheeled vehicles and motorcycles and the lack of a protective enclosure contribute to the injuries people suffer in these crashes.
The rider on the motorcycle could suffer severe broken bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries in a collision. Motorcycle crashes can also be deadly, even if the people in the four-wheeled vehicle suffer few or no injuries.
Researchers try to gather as much information as possible about different kinds of crashes and then analyze that information to set more effective safety policies. Individuals who frequently drive or ride motorcycles can also benefit from learning about the most common cause of motorcycle crashes. When you understand the most frequently reported causes, you can help avoid causing a motorcycle crash or getting hurt in one.
What factors contribute to motorcycle crashes?
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, human error in either the motorcycle rider or someone in another vehicle is the reason for 94% of all crashes. The other 6% of motorcycle crashes involved vehicle issues, environmental factors, phantom vehicles and unknown circumstances. A phantom vehicle occurs when a rider reports maneuvering to avoid another vehicle, but there is no conclusive evidence to support the rider’s claim.
Nearly two-thirds of these crashes or 64% were the result of mistakes made by the person in the larger, enclosed vehicle. Perception failures, meaning that they failed to notice the motorcycle, were the top reported cause. Decision failures, reaction failures and comprehension failures were also possible on the part of either driver. In single-vehicle motorcycle crashes, alcohol frequently plays a role.
Decision-making errors might involve traveling at a speed too high for the conditions of the road or not leaving enough space while merging. Reaction failures might include over-correcting when swerving, while comprehension failures mean that drivers didn’t understand the situation to respond in time.