motorcycle accident causes

The 11 Most Common West Virginia Motorcycle Accident Causes

For motorcycle riders, Share the Road campaigns are a step forward in protecting motorcyclists, but it isn’t enough. For motorcycle riders to ride safely, riders and other vehicles on the road with them, need to be aware of the 11 most common motorcycle accident causes.

In 2019, there were 5,014 motorcyclists killed in the U.S. 11% of those accidents occurred on West Virginia’s roads. This does not take into consideration how many motorcycle accidents did not lead to a fatality.

It’s time to make the roads safer for everyone, including those who love to ride their motorcycle.

11. Vehicle Differences

Motorcycles lack the protective characteristics of a car or truck. They are harder to see by other drivers because of their smaller size. The rider does not have airbags to protect them.

Therefore, it is no surprise that according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are approximately 29 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries than someone in a car.

10. Motorcyclist Inexperience

Some people feel that riding a motorcycle is easy. It isn’t necessarily hard, but there are a lot of things to consider before you jump on a motorcycle.

In West Virginia, the law requires that all motorcycle operators obtain a motorcycle endorsement. This can be done through classes. There are two rider courses available through the Motorcycle Safety Program:

The Basic Rider Course (BRC): This course is designed to help beginner riders learn how to handle their bike. It is a course that takes about 17 hours to complete.

The Experienced Rider Course (ERC): This course is designed to help experienced riders become better and safer. Some lessons you will focus on include braking, cornering, and swerving.

9. Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist chooses to travel between two lanes of cars to get through traffic. It is illegal in West Virginia, but that does not mean motorcyclists don’t attempt to do it when they are stuck in a traffic jam.

Unfortunately, it is a very dangerous way to get through traffic. It can be hard to know what other drivers may do to also get through it as well, which can increase the risk of accidents.

8. Car Doors and Other Obstacles

Someone in a hurry to get out of their vehicle may not realize that a motorcyclist is coming. A motorcyclist may be too close to stop before hitting it and unable to swerve to miss it.

This type of scenario happens more often than most people realize. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 25% of motorcycle accidents happen because of the motorcycle hitting a fixed object.

7. Sudden Stops

Although motorcycles are very good at maneuvering, sudden stops can cause a problem. When another vehicle stops suddenly in front of them, it can be difficult to maintain control. If they hit the vehicle from behind, there is a risk for them to be ejected from the motorcycle.

6. Distracted or Inattentive Driving

Much the same as other vehicle drivers can be distracted by thought, motorcyclists can as well. This is dangerous enough.

However, if a vehicle driver is texting or talking on the phone, they could be more likely to not notice the motorcycle coming toward them when they make a turn. This can be dangerous for both, but deadly for the motorcyclist.

5. Dangerous Road Conditions

Since motorcycles have only two wheels, it is to be expected that the rider is balanced on them. Some of the most dangerous road hazards and conditions include:

  • Potholes
  • Water Puddles
  • Uneven Roads
  • Loose Gravel
  • Ice
  • Road Debris
  • Blind Areas/Limited Sight Lines

A motorcycle rider must always be on the lookout for this type of danger, or it could lead to a serious accident.

4. Excessive Speed

Speeding, whether a rider or in another type of vehicle, is always dangerous, it is also a very common motorcycle accident cause. Speed limits are set to what is safe for drivers. However, for a motorcyclist, the risk is increased, no matter who is doing the speeding.

3. Lane Changes

Most passenger vehicles have a blind spot that makes it difficult for them to see around their vehicle. This can pose a huge risk to motorcyclists who may somehow end up in that driver’s blind spot.

Therefore, vehicles must be very sure that it is safe for them to change lanes before they attempt to do it. Motorcycle riders must also be cautious when trying to pass a vehicle to anticipate what that driver may do.

2. Left-hand Turns

When a motorcycle approaches an intersection, they are at risk for an accident due to someone else making a left-hand turn. This is because motorcycles may not be as noticeable as other vehicles. As a motorcyclist, you must learn to think quickly, but that isn’t always enough to prevent an accident from occurring.

1. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Sadly, this is the number one most common motorcycle accident cause. Of the 5,014 motorcyclist deaths in 2019, there were approximately 1,689 that was due to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When driving a motorcycle, it is imperative that the driver be unaffected by anything that may alter their ability to think quickly and react as their situation changes.

When to Seek Legal Counsel for These Motorcycle Accident Causes

When driving, whether on a motorcycle or in a car, anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Motorcyclists are at a higher risk of accidents both due to our 11 most common motorcycle accident causes, but when on the road, there are many other situations that can cause injuries or death for the rider.

If you or someone you care about has been involved in a motorcycle accident in West Virginia, you should seek legal advice. We are here for you and may be able to help you receive compensation for injuries you may have sustained. Contact us today for a free case review.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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