According to one study performed as recently as 2017, motorcycles are now more dangerous than ever. The study was published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Motorcycles, motorbikes, mopeds, and electric scooters managed to make up a whopping 10% of all the road fatalities in Ontario. This is despite the fact that such vehicles only make up a minuscule 2% of all the vehicles on the road.
Motorcycles remain dangerous to those who ride them. This, of course, is part of the allure. There is nothing quite like traveling at high speeds with nothing between you and the open air. On the other hand, motorcyclists increasingly find themselves the victims of other careless drivers on the road. Below, we will take a look at the reasons why such accidents seem to be increasing.
Motorcycle Crashes Result in Injuries 10 Times as Severe as Car Accidents
It is no secret that motorcycle riders are at increased risk of suffering a substantial injury. What was less clear was to what extent they were at risk. The study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicated that the motorcyclists endure injuries that are 10 times as severe as those in cars and that medical costs associated with motorcycle accidents are six times greater than car accidents.
These numbers are startling and show just how much more dangerous motorcycles are than other vehicles.
Why are Motorcycle Accidents Increasing?
Motorcycle accidents are increasing for one obvious reason: There are now more cars and other vehicles on the roads than ever before. Congested traffic leads to more accidents. While these numbers have remained steady for the past three years, fatalities remain at unprecedented highs when compared with decades past.
Another major factor is the prominence of cell phones and infotainment systems that lead to drivers’ attention being split between the road and their devices. Distracted driving remains one of the top causes of all accidents in Ontario and throughout Canada.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Sometimes, accidents cannot be attributed to a single cause. In fact, there may be multiple causes of a motorcycle accident. However, certain conditions can increase the rate of accidents. Motorcyclists need to be aware of this before taking their bikes out on Ontario roadways. Factors include:
- Time of day: Motorcyclists are much more likely to get into an accident in heavy traffic than they are in light traffic.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving remains a major cause of all vehicle accidents. This includes accidents with motorcycles.
- Speeding: A number of motorcycle accidents can be attributed to traveling at unsafe speeds. These accidents can easily be avoided.
- Intersection accidents: Intersections are a dangerous place for motorcyclists. This is especially true when drivers disregard the rules of traffic and fail to yield the right of way. Studies have shown that a large number of motorcycle accidents occur at intersections where motorcyclists are attempting to make a left-hand turn. These accidents are often fatal to the motorcyclist.
- Blindspot accidents: Another common cause of motorcycle accidents are those in which motorcycles disappear into blind spots and drivers do not check before changing lanes. Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, so those who are driving them need to be aware that they are harder to see. In most cases, however, these accidents are the fault of the driver who did not properly check their blind spots before attempting to change lanes.
- Drunk and inebriated driving: Drunk driving remains one of the most common causes of all traffic accidents and increases the likelihood of a serious accident or fatality.
- Taking on turns too quickly: Riders who are new to motorcycles often attempt to take on a curve too quickly and lose control of their bike. Motorcyclists are advised to get a feel for their bike on familiar roads before braving highways and freeways.
- Lane sharing: This is never a good idea. Lane sharing can often result in an accident that leaves both riders seriously injured.
- Lane splitting: In some cases, motorcyclists try to get ahead of traffic by driving between two vehicles. This is illegal and dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
- Wind: Wind is a major factor in motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists are advised to keep their bikes inside on windy days. Even on days where there is only a gentle breeze in the air, motorcyclists are susceptible to being passed by quickly moving vehicles. The force of the wind can cause the bike to capsize.
- Rain: A motorcycle has fewer tires and less traction. Its weight is not evenly distributed atop a large wheelbase. Slippery conditions inordinately impact motorcycles in a way that they do not cars. Tread lightly.
Motorcyclists at Fault in Roughly Half of Accidents
In 2017, Ontario police noted that of the 48 motorcycle deaths that occurred in the province, 22 were the fault of the other driver. Over the past seven years, there have been roughly 175 fatalities attributed to motorcyclists. 50 of those fatalities involved motorcyclists who were driving their bike properly at the time of their fatal crash. In many more cases, the other driver’s involvement played a key role in causing the accident.
Since fault, in the legal sense of the term, is assigned as a percentage of the blame, motorcyclists and drivers can split fault in the event that both were violating some rule of traffic or driving aggressively. In the case of the 50 deaths mentioned above, the motorcyclist was assigned 0% of the blame. That is alarming.
Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists Safely
Motorcycle awareness is an absolute must for other drivers on the road. While motorcyclists may look scary, they are just people like you and me, and if those people are hit by a much larger vehicle, they are uniquely vulnerable to serious injury or fatalities.
Nonetheless, there are safety tips that drivers can take to ensure the safety of motorcyclists with whom they share the road. These include:
- Signal, check mirrors, check blindspots: In that order, this is something that all drivers should be doing all of the time. Carelessly forgetting to check your blind spots or becoming distracted with your infotainment system or your cell phone can potentially result in a fatal accident. This is especially true for those who operate larger trucks or vans since your blindspots will be larger than smaller vehicles.
- A motorcycle gets the whole lane: It is illegal for motorcycles to attempt to pass vehicles while traveling in the same lane. It is also illegal for vehicles to pass motorcycles while traveling in the same lane. If you attempt to pass a motorcycle with which you share a lane, you will be held liable for the accident.
- Take care when passing motorcycles: If you see a motorcycle that is attempting to make a left-hand turn, be careful about how you pass them. Motorcyclists are susceptible to wind and passing a vehicle at a high speed will create a rush of air that could potentially destabilize the motorcycle.
- Motorcycle directionals: The blinker on a motorcycle is not self-canceling. The rider must manually turn off the turn signal. Do not assume that just because a motorcycle’s blinker is on that the rider is going to turn.
- Give motorcycles their space: Unlike cars, motorcyclists may slow down using their throttle and not outright braking. In this case, you may not be able to rely on the motorcycle’s brake lights to indicate that they are going to stop. Allowing extra distance gives you more reaction time.
New Safety Features Hope to Reduce Fatalities
Beyond the fact that motorcycle riders are exposed to the open air, there are a number of reasons why motorcycles are more dangerous than other types of vehicles. Some of these have to do with how the motorcycle operates. However, today it is possible to find motorcycles with safety features that are similar to those in modern cars. This technology can improve a rider’s ability to survive a serious accident.
- Safer helmets: Helmets play a huge role in preventing serious head and brain injury in accidents. They are now safer than ever. Full-face helmets tend to be the safest option because they include chin bars. The chin often encounters the most severe trauma during an accident. Additionally, newer helmets come equipped with GPS tracking and built-in cameras.
- Airbag vests: Every year, thousands of lives are saved by airbags. Today, motorcycle clothing manufacturers are employing similar technology to save the lives of motorcyclists. These are worn as jackets that immediately deploy when there is an impact. The airbag protects the chest and other vital organs while absorbing much of the impact.
- LED lighting: We spoke earlier about the number of accidents that are caused by drivers who simply do not see smaller motorcycles when shifting lanes. LED lights make your bike that much more obvious to other drivers on the road. Even if the driver does not see your bike, he or she will get the sense that something is there because of the more powerful light. It would be impossible to test how many lives are saved by better lighting, but given the fact that many accidents are caused by a failure to yield when changing lanes or failing to check blind spots before changing lanes, one would guess that number is significant.
- Smart gloves: Drivers have the option of controlling their music or radio with buttons on their steering wheel. Now, manufacturers are developing smart gloves for motorcyclists that can accomplish the same thing.
- Lower horsepower bikes: Bike manufacturers now make sport and supersport bikes for riders looking for a thrill. These bikes are considerably more dangerous than your typical motorcycle. They should only be ridden under controlled conditions and by drivers who have mastered riding motorcycles. Lower horsepower bikes are simply safer.
- System checks and diagnostics: These are not widely available in the American market yet, but they will be. European bikes already have diagnostics that can alert a rider if their tire pressure is low or cruise control is engaged.
- Anti-lock brakes: For new riders, learning how to brake properly is one of the most counterintuitive things that they will have to learn to become proficient at riding a motorcycle. Those who brake too hard and too fast run the risk of flying off their motorcycle, through the air, and crash landing. Newer models will feature anti-lock brakes or allow anti-lock brakes as an option making motorcycles safer overall.
- Stability and control systems: A number of accidents happen while motorcyclists are turning or going around turns. New AI-driven systems will prevent these accidents with stability control systems that analyze traction control and lean-angle to ensure that the motorcycle is braking and accelerating properly.
- Motorcycle boots: Motorcycle boots are often overlooked but recently, more attention has been paid to them as it becomes apparent that a poor choice of boots can contribute to injuries during an accident. New flexible boots provide a better solution.
- Options for older riders: Statistically, older riders suffer more severe injuries than younger riders and have an increased risk of death. For those who still want to feel the wind on their face, three-wheelers are becoming an increasingly popular option. They feature more stability and a better capacity to absorb an impact.
Choosing a Helmet
Your helmet is was separates the road from your skull. Choosing one that is a good fit is imperative to motorcycle safety. Today, there is more data than ever before on helmets. These include safety tests that put helmets under a battery of impact tests to determine how well suited they are for absorbing an injury.
Additionally, helmets should be replaced every five years as normal wear and tear can cause the helmet’s structural integrity to decrease over time.
Talk to a Toronto, Ontario Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyer Today
If a careless driver has caused you a substantial injury, you may be able to recover damages related to your pain and suffering and any out-of-pocket expenses. While Ontario is a no-fault province, those who are seriously injured can still file lawsuits. Talk to the lawyers at Preszler Law Firm today for a free consultation.