Although motorcycle accidents are not necessarily more common than any other kind of crash, they tend to result in more serious or fatal injuries because of the lack of protection available to motorcyclists. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, 1,262 motorcyclists were injured, and 83 more were killed in one recent year as a result of statewide motor vehicle collisions.
It’s important for all motorcyclists and other motorists to learn about the top causes of Alabama motorcycle accidents so they can spot potential dangers and reduce their risk on the road.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, the cause of the crash is also important to understand because you may be able to recover compensation if another driver was at fault. The Alabama motorcycle accident attorneys at Stokes Stemle, LLC can help you investigate the potential causes and effects of the crash and pursue a full and fair recovery for your losses.
Contact our dedicated team now to learn more in a free consultation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that more than three-quarters of all two-vehicle motorcycle accidents involve cars that struck the front end of motorcycles, compared to just 7 percent that struck motorcycles from the rear. Many of these accidents were head-on collisions, which are particularly hazardous to motorcyclists because of their lack of protection.
Most collisions occur due to negligence. Drivers who are distracted, impaired, or drowsy may drift into nearby lanes of traffic with devastating and sometimes fatal results. Similarly, motorists who are lane weaving or speeding through intersections can sometimes lose control and slam into a motorcycle, which they may fail to notice due to motorcycles’ smaller size.
Most roads in the U.S. have speed limits for a reason. When drivers exceed posted speed limits or drive too fast for conditions, they put themselves and everyone else on the road at risk.
Speeding cars pose a significant hazard to motorcyclists. Since motorcycles are much smaller than most other vehicles, they are already more difficult for drivers to see. This becomes a problem when speeding drivers have less time to recognize and react to traffic scenarios and collide with motorcycles as a result.
Speeding cars are also harder for motorists to control. Drivers who race or weave between lanes, take turns too quickly, or follow too closely behind other vehicles may lose control and accidentally swerve into nearby motorcycles. NHTSA reports that 18 percent of passenger car drivers, 14 percent of light truck drivers, and 7 percent of large truck drivers who collided with motorcycles in one recent year were speeding.
Driving Under the Influence
Out of all the motor vehicle drivers who are involved in fatal accidents with motorcycles, more than one in five were alcohol-impaired. Drivers who are under the influence of intoxicating substances, whether alcohol or drugs, are not able to make safe decisions behind the wheel. Impaired drivers are especially dangerous to motorcyclists because of their unpredictable nature and lack of attentive observation of the road around them.
Drunk motorists may drive erratically, ignore posted speed limits, or even nod off behind the wheel. Drugged drivers are often even more volatile because of the range of possible side effects from prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs. Drivers who use depressants or narcotics may be too drowsy to pay attention or react to motorcycles on the road around them. Those who are high on stimulants or hallucinogens can become disoriented or even aggressive, increasing their accident risk level.
Failure to ‘Share the Road’
Even though motorcycles may be harder to spot than other types of vehicles, motorists owe them the same care and consideration they show anyone else. In certain situations, drivers should be even more cautious with respect to motorcyclists. A split second can sometimes mean the difference between life and death in a motorcycle accident.
When car drivers know or should know that motorcyclists may be nearby, it is their responsibility to remain fully aware of their surroundings and react accordingly. Drivers who fail to signal their turns, check their blind spots, or make safe passing maneuvers all run the risk of colliding with unnoticed motorcycles nearby.
Sharing the road responsibly with motorcycles is especially important under certain conditions, such as when drivers navigate intersections. More than one-third of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections because drivers fail to notice motorcyclists as they prepare to turn.
Distracted drivers are a threat to everyone on the road, but motorcycles are particularly vulnerable in distracted driving accidents. If drivers are engaged in distracting activities, they are less likely to notice possible crash scenarios with nearby vehicles, especially motorcycles. Since most car drivers are more used to looking out for other cars or large obstacles when they drive, they often don’t expect to see motorcycles and may not notice them when even minor distractions are present.
Drivers who are texting or talking on their phones, fiddling with vehicle control settings, or simply eating or drinking have less of their attention devoted to safe driving and are far more likely to crash as a result. Motorcyclists may be struck by other distracted motorists when those drivers drift into nearby lanes of traffic, fail to slow or stop in time, or forget to properly signal their intent before maneuvering.
Failure to Check Blind Spots
A blind spot is an area around a vehicle where the driver cannot see, even with the help of rear- or side-view mirrors. Many motorcyclists do their best to remain aware of blind spots and avoid them on the road. Since motorcycles are much smaller than standard passenger vehicles, other motorists are significantly less likely to notice them when they must navigate through blind spots.
To prevent blind spot accidents with motorcycles, car drivers should ensure their mirrors are adjusted to give them the widest possible range of view, check their surroundings before turning or changing lanes, and use blinkers to signal their intent. When motorists fail to observe these basic precautions, deadly blind spot accidents with motorcycles can occur.
Lane splitting is the practice of driving a motorcycle between two lanes of congested traffic traveling in the same direction to pass slower vehicles. As in most other states, Alabama law prohibits the practice of lane splitting, even though recent studies have indicated that lane splitting is responsible for less than one half of one percent of all motorcycle accidents.
When motorcyclists do engage in lane splitting, it’s typically to help reduce congestion or avoid potential rear-end collision scenarios with other drivers in traffic jams. Though many motorcycles can drive between lanes relatively safely, lane splitting does pose several risks. When motorcycles lane split, they have less space to maneuver around other vehicles. Other drivers changing lanes may collide with them because they are not anticipating the motorcycle.
Traveling through an intersection always carries a certain amount of risk. Left-hand turns tend to be much more dangerous than right turns for several reasons. First of all, drivers must navigate through a much wider radius when turning left, which means they often travel at higher speeds and have a greater area of exposure to motorcycle accidents. Second, car drivers’ visibility is often more limited in left-hand turns, which is a significant problem for comparatively smaller motorcyclists traveling through the intersection.
Finally, left turns are inherently more complicated than right-hand turns, demanding more of drivers’ mental and physical attention. When car drivers focus a disproportionate amount of their attention on larger vehicles and their own intent, they may miss seeing an oncoming motorcyclist approaching the intersection. More than 40 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes in involving two vehicles result from negligent car drivers making left-hand turns.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Some motorcycle accidents occur because of hazardous conditions. While the majority of motorcycle accidents happen in clear or cloudy weather, at least 3 percent of motorcycle traffic fatalities in one recent year happened in rainy or foggy weather.
Slick surfaces or limited visibility can be a danger to all drivers. Motorcycles are far more likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries if other drivers fail to recognize their presence or lose control of their vehicles because of inclement weather.
In addition to dangerous weather, darkness is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists. Approximately 38 percent of motorcyclist fatalities in one year occurred at nighttime or in other dark driving conditions. Low light levels make it even more difficult for other drivers to spot motorcycles. Potholes, road debris, and uneven pavement also cause motorcycle accidents because they have a disproportionate effect on motorcycles’ smaller frames.
Injured in an Alabama Motorcycle Accident? Contact Stokes Stemle, LLC Today
No matter the cause of your Alabama motorcycle accident, the motorcycle accident lawyers of Stokes Stemle, LLC are here to help. We collect no legal fees unless we win real compensation for you. Our experienced and compassionate team is available 24/7 to address your concerns.
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