Motorcycle riders face a harsh stigma. They’re often accused of speeding, weaving through traffic, and other unsafe driving techniques. It’s frustrating, but there are consequences for this reputation. The insurance companies can use that stigma to either shift assigned fault in a crash or justify a lower settlement offer for the injured motorcyclist.
But could it be that this reputation isn’t deserved and that it’s actually cars that cause more motorcycle crashes? To find out, let’s look at some of the more significant ways cars cause crashes.
There’s some evidence to suggest that the majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes are caused by car drivers. One study by the Florida Department of Transportation found that almost 60% of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes reported between 2005-2015 were caused by the car driver, not the motorcyclist.
This is especially devastating because motorcycle crashes are an incredible 27x deadlier than car crashes, yet most of the time, it’s not the motorcyclist’s fault. But that raises another question: In what situations are motorcyclists in the greatest amount of danger?
Aggressive driving is one of the top causes of preventable car crashes in the U.S. According to AAA, nearly 1-in-3 U.S. car crashes could be avoided if drivers made a conscious effort to practice defensive driving. This means driving the speed limit, staying in your lane, allowing faster drivers to pass you (rather than punishing them), and anticipating that other drivers will always make the wrong decision.
Yet aggressive driving remains a huge problem. Studies estimate 80% of American drivers give in to road rage each month, and they may take out their aggression on motorcyclists. For example, an alarming 25% of drivers confessed to merging into traffic when the gap was too small. While this maneuver is dangerous for all drivers involved, the resulting rear-end collisions can be deadly for motorcyclists.
Most drivers instinctively slow down when they see brake lights, but the same isn’t true for motorcyclists. Motorcycles have a shorter stopping distance, and many downshift to slow down rather than hit the brakes. This means motorcycle riders slow down faster than other vehicles, and there may be no visual warning signs that they are stopping. This, in turn, can lead to a rear-end collision, one of the more common causes of motorcycle accidents.
Next time you’re following behind a motorcycle, be sure to leave plenty of room and slow down if you notice yourself “creeping up” on the vehicle ahead of you.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), roughly 42% of motorcycle crashes occur because a car driver did not see the motorcyclist. Whether this is because the driver didn’t look over their shoulder before merging or because a truck didn’t realize a driver was in their no-zone, everyone on the road should maintain a heightened awareness and double-check their mirrors and blind spots when motorcycles are around.
The NHTSA warns that motorcycles are harder to see around corners, construction zones, and roads obscured by foliage. These low visibility settings can prevent drivers from seeing motorcyclists until a crash is nearly imminent. This can be especially dangerous on two-lane roads when a driver attempts to pass someone and does not see the motorcyclist approaching in the other lane.
These crashes tend to be catastrophic. Head-on collisions are responsible for 56% of motorcycle crash fatalities, making them the top cause of severe motorcycle crashes by far.
On average, 25% of car crashes are caused by drunk or intoxicated driving, yet those same drivers cause roughly 1-in-3 motorcycle fatalities. While some of these are caused by unsafe motorcycle riders, cars have a much greater risk of making these crashes fatal.
Drunk drivers endanger motorcyclists for the same reasons we discussed above. They are more likely to swerve, to speed, to drift into the wrong lane, and they are less likely to check their blind spots before attempting to merge. All of these factors combined make drunk drivers in cars an especially dangerous hazard to even the safest motorcycle rider.
To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Kansas car accident lawyer from Bretz Injury Law, don’t hesitate to contact our firm at or send us an email.