You live for the thrill of the open road. But your family lives in fear of the day they get a phone call that you’ve been in an accident.
It’s more common than you think—there were 142 motorcycle accidents in Michigan in 2017, or roughly 11 accidents every month. And when you’re in a motorcycle, an accident that a car could brush off could easily prove fatal.
Here are some of the most common motorcycle crashes and what you can do to stay safe on the road.
Lane splitting is a practice many motorcyclists are guilty of—and one that puts you at serious risk.
You’re commuting to work on your bike. It’s all fine and good. Except, as usual, your morning route is clogged with traffic, and you’re going to be late if you have to stop and go for much longer.
Since you’re on a bike that can fit into small spaces, you decide to use the bike to your advantage. You zip between cars, sometimes riding straight down the lane line. The drivers around you are annoyed, but hey, you’re finally making good time.
This is lane splitting, and it’s illegal in every state except California. Supporters say that allows motorcycles to alleviate some traffic by moving through congestion faster, and that it keeps motorcyclists out of potential rear-end accidents that can occur in stop-and-go traffic.
Opponents say that it puts motorcyclists in even greater danger.
When you engage in lane splitting, you’re not paying as much attention to the cars around you. And the cars around you aren’t expecting a motorcycle to zip up next to them, either. That puts you at risk of serious injury if a car changes lanes and doesn’t see you, or if a driver suddenly opens their car door for some reason, or if cars suddenly start to move as you cut between them.
You could even be at risk from other motorcycles if you move to lane split and don’t see another lane splitter coming.
Avoiding lane splitting accidents is simple: don’t engage in lane splitting.
It’s tempting for motorcyclists, especially when you know you could move through traffic faster by taking advantage of your bike’s size.
But remember, lane splitting is illegal under Michigan’s traffic safety laws. If you’re injured in an accident due to lane splitting, the other driver (and their insurance company) will absolutely leverage that against you.
Left-turning cars are by far the most common type of motorcycle crash incident.
It’s also one of the most dangerous situations for a motorcyclist. When a moving car strikes a motorcycle, basic physics wins out—a motorcycle will always lose against a car.
This type of crash usually happens when:
This type of accident is common among cars as well, but it’s even more dangerous for motorcycles. Unlike a car, you don’t have layers of metal to lessen the impact, and there’s nothing holding you in place. If the bike collides with a car, you don’t have a seatbelt to keep you from flying into the car window or into oncoming traffic.
Even if you aren’t flung off your bike, any car will have a size advantage over a motorcycle, even a small sedan.
The best way to avoid this type of accident is to think about safety to the point of redundancy. If you can anticipate the other driver’s next move, you can prevent a possibly dangerous situation.
Ride in a safe manner, and always keep an eye on cars to see if they may turn in front of you. Intersections are a common culprit, but you should also keep your eyes peeled if there’s a gap in traffic in front of you that’s large enough for a car. When all else fails, look at the driver—most people check their mirrors or turn to look behind them before merging.
If you see or suspect that a car is about to turn in front of you, slow down. Move as far back from the car as you can, and be ready to brake or evade if necessary.
Remember: most car drivers aren’t looking for motorcyclists. The vast majority of people drive cars, so most drivers are conditioned to look for cars. You can’t account for other people, but you can manage your own driving.
A head-on collision is a nightmare for any driver. But for a motorcyclist, it can easily be fatal.
Few factors are on the motorcyclist’s side in a head-on collision. A car has a significant size and weight advantage, and the motorcycle ride has no protection to hold them in place if the motorcycle comes to an abrupt stop.
Depending on the speed of the crash, one of two things will happen:
Either way, the odds are not in the motorcyclist’s favor. They could be facing any number of serious injuries, from a traumatic brain injury to broken bones to spinal cord injuries or worse.
Head-on collisions usually happen when a vehicle is going down the center line of a road or at intersections when someone tries to turn and collides with oncoming traffic. They’re more common in construction zones (when vehicles are going the wrong way in lanes), as well as two-lane rural roads and highway ramps.
To avoid head-on collisions, always make sure to drive defensively. Ride your bike as though every other vehicle could do something dangerous and act accordingly. Most of the time, this won’t happen, but you’ll be prepared on the rare occasion that it does.
It’s also helpful to drive to the right—that is, when possible, try to stay in the right-hand side of the lane, the outside edge of the lane. This will keep you as far as possible from traffic coming in the opposite direction. If needed, you can ride on the shoulder or off the road in grass to dodge an oncoming car.
To that end, if you think a car may be driving dangerously, make sure to reduce your own speed as quickly as possible. The faster your bike is going when you collide, the greater probability that you’ll be flung off the bike.
Motorcycle crashes aren’t like car crashes. Not only do you have to recover from the physical and emotional trauma of a major accident, but you also have to deal with negative preconceptions from law enforcement, insurance companies, and even your own peers.
That’s why you need a motorcycle accident lawyer that will fight for your rights.
The attorneys at Giroux Trial Attorneys know that you deserve to have your voice heard, and they know the discrimination you face as a motorcyclist. That’s why we’re proud to defend our clients the same way we would defend our own family members.
And when we fight for you like our own family, we get results. We recently won a $12 million settlement for a motorcycle accident victim, giving our clients security and peace of mind to move forward from the accident.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, there’s no time to waste. Click here to get started with your free consultation and find out how the attorneys at Giroux Trial Attorneys can help protect you and your loved ones.