Top 8 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents & How to Lower Your Risk

It is no surprise: Motorcyclists are the most vulnerable group of Hoosiers on Indiana’s roadways. Their complete exposure to cars, trucks, and various environmental hazards account for a wide variety of traumatic injuries that often arise from a motorcycle crash.

According to Indiana University Public Policy Institute’s 2018 report, 1,930 people were injured in motorcycle-related crashes, with 112 of these incidents involving a fatality or wrongful death.

Further supporting that data, Boulton Law Group has not only handled a number of cases involving motorcyclists who suffered life-altering injuries, we have also had the solemn duty of representing families who lost a loved one due to a crash.

Attorney Boulton’s experience with these cases has not only helped to make him one of Indiana’s top motorcycle injury attorneys, he has also witnessed a number of patterns that can often be attributed to the main cause of bike crashes.

Below, we take a look at some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents and what riders can do to help lower their risk.

Top 8 Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Indiana

1.) Cars or trucks that turn left in front of a motorcyclist

A large number of motorcycle accidents occur when a car or truck fails to yield the right of way and turns left in front of or into a motorcyclist, often at an intersection or when a biker is attempting to pass a vehicle.

In a majority of left-hand turn motorcycle crashes, the at-fault party will often say that they did not see the motorcyclist.

In fact, drivers of cars and trucks have specifically trained their brains to be on the watch for other large automobiles. This means that they are not even looking for (or expecting) a motorcyclist to be on the road.

Combine that psychological pattern with the fact that motorcyclists are inherently more difficult to see, and the risk of a traumatic bike accident only increases.

Because left-hand turn cases happen with little to no warning, a biker has virtually zero time to react. The point of contact for the bike is commonly the front-end or broadside of the larger vehicle, which essentially launches a rider from their motorcycle.

As a result, motorcyclists that are struck by a car or truck who fail to yield the right of way often sustain serious and/or fatal injuries.

In an effort to lessen the risk of a left-hand turn crash, motorcyclists can do the following:

  • possess hyper-awareness of their surroundings.
  • do their best to anticipate other drivers’ next moves.
  • follow posted speed limits, or reduce their speed to be in accordance with the existing conditions.
  • keep as large of a distance as possible between themselves and other vehicles.
2.) Distracted driving

Everyone knows the dangers of sharing the road with a distracted driver, however, in this scenario, the stakes rise astronomically for motorcyclists.

Whether an automobile driver is texting, talking on a phone, adjusting their radio, etc., they place motorcyclists at an enormous risk, especially when changing lanes or not looking up in time to see a stopped motorcyclist in front of them.

In one particular incident, two Hoosier bikers were merely standing next to their motorcycle when they were struck by a distracted driver. The end result: both victims lost a leg.

Boulton Law Group has handled a number of motorcycle injury cases where the primary cause for the accident was determined to be distracted driving. Depending on the liability factors, our investigation may require us to secure cell phone records to prove an automobile driver was not paying attention at the moment of the crash.

Awareness is key to a motorcyclist decreasing their chances of being hit by a distracted driver. Whether it’s while actively riding or at a full stop, bikers must remain alert to their surroundings.

For example, a motorcyclist waiting at a stoplight should look over their shoulder to ensure the driver of the vehicle behind them is going to come to a stop and is not looking down or otherwise distracted.

3.) Motorcycle accidents caused by switching lanes

A number of serious motorcycle accidents also happen when a car or truck to the immediate right or left of a biker unexpectedly merges into their lane.

Some common signs that a car or truck may be changing lanes:

  • Most obvious is a vehicle’s turn signal appears.
  • The vehicle’s wheels begin turning.
  • You notice a driver glancing in or checking their mirrors.
  • You notice a driver turning their head and looking around them, likely checking blind spots.

The reason lane-change accidents occur is often two-fold:

  • Motorcycles are easily obstructed or hidden in a car or truck’s blind-spot.
  • The smaller size of a motorcycle makes a biker much harder to see.

To help ensure you are not in a car or truck’s blind-spot, a biker should be able to see the other vehicle’s mirrors, and more specifically, the face of the driver. If you can see a driver’s face, this means that they can probably see you.

And if a biker believes they are possibly in a blind spot, they should slow down or change positions to remove themselves from this space.

4.) Head-On Collisions

To no one’s surprise, a head-on collision between a motorcycle and a full-size automobile is often fatal for the biker, or at a minimum, results in life-altering, traumatic injuries.

In the head-on motorcycle accident cases we’ve investigated, a high rate of speed by one or more of the victims is typically determined to be a factor. As such, once the bike makes contact with the automobile, the motorcyclist is instantly ejected, either going into the windshield of the car or truck, or thrown a great distance onto the roadway.

Motorcyclists attempting to avoid a head-on collision may benefit from the National Safety Council’s “Four R’s”:

  • Read the road ahead always

What does this mean? Simply put, motorcyclists should always be actively scanning the road and surrounding area for signs of potential danger or environmental hazards. In the case of potential head-on accidents, bikers should be on the watch for oncoming traffic.

  • Drive to the Right
  • Reduce your speed
  • Ride off the road

What does this mean? Riding off the road is when a motorcyclist slows down and merges onto the shoulder or grassy area of a roadway in an attempt to avoid a head-on collision.

5.) Motorcycle accidents caused by lane-splitting

An Indiana motorcyclist that drives between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic commits the act of lane-splitting.

Indiana law prohibits lane-splitting, meaning that a motorcyclist who is injured as a result of this type of accident, may have all or a portion of fault placed on them for the collision.

Boulton Law Group has investigated a number of lane-splitting cases involving motorcycles. In most of these accidents, the reason for the crash could be attributed to one or more of the following:

  • lane-splitting puts cars and trucks in such close proximity that there is little or no time to react.
  • the motorcyclist has less space to maneuver.
  • drivers of cars and trucks don’t lane-split, so they don’t expect anyone to pass them in slow or stopped traffic.

To decrease the chances of being involved in a lane-splitting accident, Boulton Law Group’s advice is simple: Do not do it! Not only is lane-splitting illegal in the Hoosier state, it can be highly dangerous.

6.) Driving under the influence

If we refer back to Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute Report, the number of collisions involving motorcycle operators with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 g/dL or more totaled 89 in 2018.

It surprises no one when we say motorcyclists driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are complicating an already dangerous situation by greatly increasing the odds that they will be involved in a traumatic or life-ending accident.

Additionally, we have also investigated number of incidents in which a motorcyclist was struck by an automobile driver who was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is yet another reason for motorcyclists to maintain hyper-awareness at all times.

Our plea regarding this danger is a simple and passionate one: Never operate a motorcycle under the influence or drugs! And if you believe you are sharing the road with an automobile driver who is under the influence, completely distance yourself from them.

7.) Motorcycle accidents and wipe-outs from corner turns

As kids, many of us experienced a risky bicycle turn that left us shaken or on our rear ends. Whether we took the corner too sharply, with too much speed, or simply wiped out on loose sand or gravel, we quickly learned the dangers of “corner turns.”

The same types of corner turns are just as harrowing for motorcyclists, yet often have much more serious consequences.

Boulton Law Group is familiar with a number of stories involving motorcyclists who were injured in a corner turn crash, each caused by various factors, such as patches of sand, gravel, leaves, water, crumbled pavement, etc.

Another common cause of corner turn accidents is when a motorcyclist misjudges how tight or sharp the corner is configured. As a result, the biker takes the turn too fast, resulting in a crash.

Motorcyclists who crash as a result of a corner turn are also put at further risk due to surrounding traffic. We have witnessed a number of solo crashes involving bikes that saw the rider further injured or killed by nearby automobiles who had no time to react to the downed rider.

To decrease the risk of being seriously injured or worse due to a corner turn crash, motorcyclists are cautioned to always ride at a speed that gives them time to react to environmental hazards (sand, gravel, debris, road crumbing, etc.) and/or unique road configurations, such as tight or sharp turns.

8.) Motorcycle accidents caused by speeding

Boulton Law Group has reviewed a number of Indiana accident reports in which “speed” was cited a primary or contributing factor involved in a motorcycle accident.

In the event that a motorcyclist is involved in a crash with another vehicle, and it is determined that the biker was speeding, there is an increased likelihood that the value of any potential injury claim will be reduced or denied based on the biker’s percentage of liability for the accident.

The lesson here is one that you likely already know: Motorcyclists can decrease the odds of being involved in a speed-related accident by simply obeying the posted limits or traveling at a speed that is safe for the surrounding conditions.

Questions about your motorcycle accident and injury claim?

Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning Indianapolis personal injury attorney with more than 20 years’ experience helping injured motorcyclists and their families.

Motorcycle personal injury claims are especially unique, as bikers often face a bias that can negatively affect the value of their case. With this in mind, we strongly recommend that injured bikers consult with an experienced accident attorney who focuses exclusively on personal injury.

Boulton Law Group offers all injured motorcyclists a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that you will never be charged a consultation fee, and you owe our firm nothing until we win your case.

To speak with attorney Boulton about our motorcycle case, call 317-350-2680, or write to us through our confidential contact form for an immediate online evaluation.

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Contact attorney Boulton for a 100% free case review. No matter the size or type of case, our clients never pay a fee until after we win their case.
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