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What Makes a Motorcycle Accident So Deadly?

By stladmin on July 23, 2020

Warm weather comes with a boost in motorcycle traffic throughout Wyoming as riders get out and enjoy the open air. Generally, Wyoming’s summer would be filled with motorcycle riders, especially come August when riders would travel along I-90 to the Sturgis Rally in South Dakota. While it is unclear if COVID-19 restrictions will keep the event from taking place this year, residents of northeastern Wyoming should still be aware of how to drive around motorcyclists and avoid potentially deadly accidents.

Motorcycle vs Car Accidents.

While it may seem obvious to most drivers, not many people fully understand how dangerous a motorcycle accident can be. Riders have significantly less protection in an accident, including lacking seatbelts, airbags, traction control, stability systems, or crumple zones. While there have been advancements in motorcycle design and equipment to minimize a rider’s injuries, they are still a long way to being as safe as passenger vehicles, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that there are 27 times as many fatalities involving motorcycles than cars.

In a standard car accident where two passenger vehicles strike each other, several key events occur to help protect the drivers and passengers: airbags deploy, crumple zones absorb some of the impact, seatbelts lock, and stability systems engage to help drivers maintain control.

But in a motorcycle accident, riders can experience a wider variety of injuries and trauma, depending on the point of impact:

  • If struck from behind, the rider can be thrown from the bike and onto the pavement. Even if the rider is wearing a helmet, they can suffer a brain injury, in addition to spinal damage, broken bones, and road rash from sliding over the road.
  • If struck from head-on, the rider can go through the windshield, roll over the roof, or be pulled under the vehicle, if the vehicle is raised up like a truck or SUV. These collisions are often fatal, but if a rider survives, they can suffer brain damage, internal damage, spinal damage, and multiple fractures.
  • If struck from the side, riders can be driven off the road or into other vehicles, such as in a lane-splitting accident. The initial collision can lead to fractures on the side of the body that was struck and, if the rider loses control of the motorcycle or the brakes lock up, then they can be knocked over. The weight of the bike often results in lower impact injuries, such as a broken leg or soft tissue damage along the ankle. Riders may also suffer from road rash, head and neck trauma, and spinal cord injuries.

While most people are quick to blame the motorcyclist for these accidents, oftentimes the fault lies with passenger vehicle drivers.

What Should Drivers Know?

Remember, statistically speaking, passenger vehicles are far safer than motorcycles while also being significantly heavier and larger. As such, if a driver crashes into a motorcyclist, the rider will often bear the brunt of the damage. Thus, it is imperative that drivers do everything they can to minimize the risk of a motorcycle accident.

If you are driving near a motorcycle, keep the following things in mind:

  • Motorcycles, despite specific engine designs, are often quieter than other vehicles and you won’t always hear them speeding up.
  • Their size makes them harder to spot, which is why it is important to check all mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or making a turn.
  • Motorcycles are more mobile and can slow down easier, but it is nearly impossible for anyone to react when a car suddenly stops. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid braking or stopping abruptly.
  • Remember the four-second rule. Most cars need four seconds to come to a complete stop, so if there is a motorcycle in front of you, make sure you have enough space to slow down or stop without rear-ending them.
  • Keep your head clear when you are driving, which means no drinking and driving, fatigued driving, or distracted driving.

At the end of the day, make sure to abide by all Wyoming driving laws. Not only are they designed to keep you safe, but also other people on the road, including motorcyclists.

What Should Riders Do?

Although human behavior accounts for the majority of motorcycle accidents, riders can also take steps to minimize their injuries. While Wyoming only requires riders 17-years-old or younger to wear a helmet, but no matter your age they can protect you from serious brain damage. Covering up is also a huge step to reducing the risk of road rash or, even worse, degloving. Padded leather jackets, pants, gloves, and thick boots can lower the chance of suffering a serious abrasion, and some are designed to absorb the impact of a collision, thus preventing fractures and muscle tears.

What bike you ride can also play a huge role in your accident, according to a motorcycle accident analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Despite general bias, Harley’s are not the most dangerous bike you can ride; in fact, motor sports bikes are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. This is usually attributed to their light weight, so riding a heavy bike seems to minimize your risk of a fatal injury. Alongside the size of your bike, anti-locking brake systems (ABS) are also shown to minimize your injuries. Even if a car side-swipes you, an ABS may allow you to stay in control and upright, preventing a serious crash.

If the worst-case scenario should happen and you are involved in a motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to seek medical attention and get the driver’s insurance information. Despite bias in the media, motorcycle riders do have a right to compensation from insurance companies and are not always at fault for their injuries. At Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., our Gillette motorcycle accident attorneys stand by our clients and will aggressively advocate for your right to fair and proper compensation. Call us at (307) 257-7800 to schedule a free, initial consultation and learn what options are available to you.

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