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Most Common Causes of Collision between Cars & Motorcycles

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Motorcyclists are some of the most endangered riders on the road. They have less protection compared to other vehicles and are less visible.

This means motorcycle riders are at a higher risk of collision with other drivers and are prone to more serious injuries. Schmidt & Clark legal team has been dealing with accidents involving cars and motorcycles for over two decades.

Today, we’ll explain the most common collisions between a motorcycle and a car, as well as what a car driver or a motorcycle rider should do in these situations.

Summary of the Key Findings

  • There are many reasons why car and motorcycle crashes happen.
  • Drivers should know what to do if they are involved in an accident.
  • If you’ve been in a car and motorcycle accident, you should consult a lawyer. 

Most Common Causes of a Crash Between a Car and a Motorcycle

Unfortunately, car and motorcycle accidents aren’t uncommon, and they happen for many reasons. Here are the most common causes of car and motorcycle collisions.

1. Driver Negligence

Woman texting while drivingA distracted driver is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. If a vehicle driver doesn’t exercise caution when driving, vehicles around them are in danger. 

Examples of driver negligence include speeding, swerving, sudden braking and lane changing, texting and driving, talking on the phone and driving, eating and drinking while driving, and more.

Actions such as these make it harder to react in time, and they cause collisions. 

Moreover, negligence can result in the driver at-fault having to pay damages, fines, or being imprisoned.

2. Failure to Give the Right of Way

A black car signaling left Another common cause of a car and motorcycle crash is failure to give the right of way.

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1], this happens especially at intersections. 

Cars that turn left at an intersection don’t give the right of way, most commonly because they don’t notice the motorcycle, or they don’t expect that a motorcycle is coming, which often results in a serious injury. 

To avoid this, motorcycles should try to be noticed before going through the intersection. Vehicle drivers should stop at crosswalks and limit lines, yield to approaching vehicles, and cross once it’s safe.

3. Blind Spots

A red car showing side mirror blindspotSide and rearview mirrors don’t provide a 360-degree view of the surroundings. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 840,000 blind spot accidents happen in the US yearly. There are about 300 fatalities [2]. 

Blind spot accidents commonly happen in sudden lane changes. Driving without signaling leaves motorcyclists little time to react. 

There are several things you can do to avoid a blind spot accident:

  • Adjust the mirrors
  • Look over the shoulder
  • Lean forward to get a better view in the mirror
  • Learn where blind spots are and be extra careful

4. Drowsy Drivers

A driver feeling sleepyAccording to the National Sleep Foundation, drivers who don’t get enough sleep, or feel tired, tend to lose focus while driving or riding a motorcycle [3].

Drowsy driving can also result from a medical condition. If a driver waits too long to take a break, their reflexes and reaction times will be slowed, which can also lead to a car and motorcycle accident.

Some drivers or riders are so fatigued they fall asleep while at the wheel or drift and strike a motorcyclist. If a drowsy driver causes a motorcycle accident, they can be sued and face fines or jail time.

5. Distracted Driver

Young teenager texting while driving The number of distracted drivers has increased with technological advances, especially smartphone technology improvements.

These drivers are a danger to other drivers around them, especially motorcyclists. Because motorcycle riders are more difficult to spot, they are more likely to become victims. 

Using a phone while driving is the most common cause of distracted car and motorcycle accidents.

Other reasons include eating and drinking while driving and passenger car occupants causing the distraction. About 9 people die daily in the US because of distracted driving.

Centers for Disease Control say the following types of behaviors lead to distracted driving [4]:

  • Cognitive — Everything that takes drivers’/riders’ minds off driving
  • Visual — Everything that takes drivers’/riders’ off the road
  • Manual — Everything that takes the drivers’ hands off the wheel

Related Article: Texting While Driving Accident Lawsuit

6. Impaired Drivers

Man drinking liquor while driving carRiding a motorcycle or a car while intoxicated is not only dangerous but also a crime. Despite numerous public safety campaigns, many drivers still do it. 

30% of fatal motorcycle accidents in 2019 happened due to intoxicated drivers [5].

An intoxicated driver, or one under the influence of drugs, has less chance of seeing the motorcyclist and won’t have a quick reaction time. 

When drivers drive while impaired, they can sustain serious injuries. This especially goes for the motorcyclists, as the motorcycle offers little protection to the rider. 

Driving under the influence affects car drivers and motorcyclists in these ways:

  • Affected vision, such as blurred or double vision
  • Impaired reaction time
  • Impaired color distinction, which makes it difficult to distinguish traffic light colors

Drivers accused of DUI will need a personal injury attorney to help them.

Related Article: Drunk Driving Accident Lawsuit

7. Lack of Driver Perception

A driver with short peripheral viewAnother cause of many motorcycle crashes is the lack of driver perception.

When car drivers or motorcycle riders fail to accurately determine the distance between an approaching vehicle or a car driver pulls out in front of a motorcycle, not accurately evaluating the speed at which it’s going, head-on collisions can happen. 

It’s recommended that car drivers wait for a motorcycle to pass before entering a road or a city street, especially at an intersection. 

A lack of perception can also happen because of medical conditions, such as trauma to the eye, amblyopia, strabismus, and more. 

8. Cars Turning Left

Close up image of turning signal switchLeft turn right of way traffic rules are clear: drivers turning left have to let other vehicles pass before they turn. If a left-turning car strikes a motorcycle, it’ll most probably be his fault. 

Many car and motorcycle accidents were caused by a car turning left.

However, motor vehicle riders can also be at-fault in a left-turn accident if they speed or run a red light.

These collisions often result in fatal crashes. 

The most common left-turn accidents include:

  • Distracted driver
  • Speeding
  • Low visibility
  • Motorcycle trying to overtake a car
  • Motorcycle passing a car

9. High-Performance Motorcycles

Perspective of motorcycle driver High-performance motorcycles fall into two categories: supersport and sport motorcycles.

Supersport bikes are lightweight, have high horsepower engines, and can go up to 160 miles per hour. They are intended for racing and highway use.

Sport motorcycles have a reduced power-to-weight ratio compared to supersport ones. 

Supersport motorcycle riders are four times more likely to end up in a car and motorcycle accident than traditional motorcycles. [6]

10. Motorcycle Lane Splitting

Motorcycle driver going at full speed Lane splitting happens when a motorcycle moves between a line of stopped or slowly moving cars. 

This also leads to car and motorcycle accidents because cars don’t expect vehicles to move past them in slow-moving traffic.

Emergency braking may not be enough to stop the collision in this situation, especially if the motorcycle is in the wrong lane.

Also, motorcycle riders don’t have a lot of space to maneuver between cars.

Note: There are a few states where lane splitting is legal, but the motorcyclist will be at-fault in most cases.

Related Article: What Is A Major Cause Of Death In Motorcycle Accidents?

What to do After a Car and Motorcycle Accident

A collision between a car and a motorcycle

There are several things you should do when involved in an accident:

  • Get out of the roadway — Check how safe the surroundings are, and go to a safe place.
  • Don’t remove the helmet and protective gear — You probably won’t be aware of all injuries due to adrenaline, so it’s better not to remove the gear yourself to avoid worsening the condition.
  • Call the police and an ambulance — Call the police to report the motorcycle accident, and the ambulance to get medical help. You should get checked even if you don’t feel or see any injuries.
  • Document the accident — If you’re feeling alright, try to gather evidence. Take your own pictures, ask for a copy of the police report for the insurance company, write the license plates of registered vehicles involved in the accident, and find a personal injury lawyer.

Related Article: 8 Most Common Causes of Collisions

FAQ

What is the most common type of collision between cars and motorcycles?

The most common type of collision between a car and a motorcycle is a left-hand turn. This happens when a car turning left doesn’t see an approaching motorcycle.

Get an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Car and motorcycle accidents, such as head-on collisions, can result in fatal crashes. Broken bones,  head and brain injuries are common consequences, so make sure to get medical help as soon as possible.

If you’re a motorcyclist, check the helmet laws in your state, and make sure to abide by them. If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, you’ll need good legal representation.

Schmidt & Clark lawyers are experienced in dealing with different types of vehicle collisions, and we will provide free consultation and free case evaluations.

Contact us today to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve.


References:

1. https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/get-materials/motorcycle-safety

2. https://www.natlawreview.com/article/what-if-my-car-accident-was-caused-blind-spot

3. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/drowsy-driving/drowsy-driving-vs-drunk-driving 

4. https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/distracted_driving/index.htm

5. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-a-per-se-dui.html

6. https://www.iihs.org/topics/motorcycles 

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