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Causes of Motorcycle Accidents and Statistics

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Posted on May 29, 2024

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month – an opportunity to spread knowledge regarding the risks that motorcyclists face and how the average person can reduce them. Over the last two decades, the number of annual motorcyclist deaths in Florida has more than doubled. This demonstrates a significant need for safety improvements, including enhanced driver education, increased enforcement of traffic laws and greater care taken to ensure safe roadways.

Identifying the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Florida and reviewing the latest crash statistics can increase motorcycle awareness and teach riders how to improve their safety.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s crucial to seek the expertise of a skilled Tampa personal injury lawyer. At Vanguard Attorneys, we are committed to advocating for motorcyclists’ rights and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation at (813) 471-4444 or reach out to us online. Let us help you navigate the legal process and focus on your recovery while we handle the complexities of your case.

Why Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?

Motorcycle accidents are almost always preventable. They occur most often when someone is negligent, or fails to exercise reasonable care. When a motor vehicle driver doesn’t pay attention to the road, for example, he or she can miss a motorcyclist and cause a serious accident.

Driver Error

Motor vehicle drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles with due care, prudence and according to all applicable traffic laws. They have a legal obligation to prevent accidents as much as possible. Unfortunately, not all drivers take this responsibility seriously.

Drivers can commit many careless or reckless acts behind the wheel that result in motorcycle collisions, including:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Drowsy driving
  • Making an unsafe left-hand turn at an intersection
  • Running a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign
  • Ignoring a motorcyclist’s right-of-way
  • Following too closely
  • Making unsafe lane changes
  • Passing in an illegal or dangerous place

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to serious and fatal injuries in traffic accidents than motor vehicle occupants. For this reason, motorists should exercise extra caution when driving near and around vulnerable motorcyclists. Unsafe, negligent or aggressive driving behaviors increase the odds of a collision.

Dangerous Conditions

A smaller, lighter motorcycle is more prone to accidents due to road hazards than a larger and heavier passenger car. A car may be able to roll over a pothole without issue, for example, while the same pothole could cause a motorcyclist to skid or “trip” and lose control.

Examples of dangerous road conditions for motorcyclists are:

  • Wet roads
  • Slippery or oily surfaces
  • Uneven or cracked pavement
  • Pavement joints
  • Loose gravel or rocks
  • Storm debris
  • Grass clippings
  • Railroad crossings
  • Road construction
  • Crossing animals

In addition, motorcyclists are more exposed to the elements. They do not have a metal shell to protect them from environmental risks such as rain, hail or high winds. Finally, the size of a motorcycle can make it easier to miss in low visibility conditions, such as fog or nighttime.

Motorcycle Defects

Even a highly experienced motorcyclist could get into an accident if his or her motorcycle contains a part defect. Motorcycle components with design, manufacturing and marketing defects can pose serious safety risks to riders and their passengers. Examples include tire defects, tire blowouts, faulty steering components, brake failure, engine failure, electrical issues, frame defects or weaknesses, and defective signals.

Motorcyclist Error

Motor vehicle drivers are not the only ones who can make mistakes that result in motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists can also contribute to these crashes. For example, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that nearly half – 42 percent – of motorcyclists who died in the U.S. in single-vehicle accidents in 2022 were alcohol-impaired. Illegal acts such as speeding, ignoring traffic laws and lane-splitting also increase the odds of a crash.

Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycles can crash in different ways than standard passenger vehicles due to their unique designs and features. These collisions can take the form of single-vehicle crashes due to road hazards and mechanical failures or multi-vehicle crashes due to driver negligence.

Common types of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Low-side crash: the motorcycle slides out from underneath the rider due to a hazard such as gravel on the road or abrupt braking.
  • High-side crash: a motorcyclist gets thrown over the handlebars due to the motorcycle suddenly losing traction.
  • High-tail crash: a motorcycle’s rear tire loses traction and skids, then suddenly regains traction and grabs the pavement, jerking the bike violently back in line.

Motorcyclists are also at risk of traditional types of traffic accidents, such as rear-end collisions, intersection accidents, T-bone collisions and head-on collisions. However, motorcyclists can suffer more severe injuries in these crashes than passenger vehicle occupants.

Motorcycle Accidents by the Numbers

The number of deadly motorcycle accidents has been steadily climbing over the last 20 years. It is more important than ever to keep track of motorcycle crash statistics to help drivers, riders and safety organizations take steps to prevent these collisions.

Below are the latest available motorcycle crash statistics for the State of Florida:

  • There were 9,529 motorcycle accidents in Florida in 2023.
  • The number of motorcycle accidents increased by 2.8 percent from 2022.
  • Motorcycle collisions accounted for 2.4 percent of all traffic accidents in Florida in 2023.
  • A total of 606 motorcyclists died and 8,194 were injured.
  • March was the most dangerous month for motorcyclists, with 1,119 accidents.
  • Hillsborough County reported 232 motorcycle crashes and 11 motorcyclist deaths in 2023.
  • In 2022, 255 motorcyclists in Florida died while not wearing helmets.

National motorcycle accident statistics showcase similar trends:

  • In 2022, a total of 6,218 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents – the highest number since 1975.
  • Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 14.6 percent of all traffic deaths in 2022 despite only making up 3 percent of all registered vehicles.
  • In 2022, 82,687 motorcyclists were injured in accidents nationwide.
  • The motorcyclist fatality rate in the U.S. increased by 1 percent from 2021 to 2022.
  • Over the last decade, motorcycle death rates have increased by 32 percent.
  • The death rate for motorcyclists in the U.S. is 26.16 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
  • The majority of fatal motorcycle accidents occurred on urban roads (66 percent) and in good weather (94 percent).

Accident data can be used to identify the most common accident risks threatening motorcyclists. It can also emphasize the need to make meaningful improvements in motorcyclist safety, both at the state level and among individual road users.

If you or a loved one gets injured in a motorcycle accident in Tampa, Florida, contact Vanguard Attorneys for a free consultation.