Motorcycles continue to gain in popularity. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) says that in the number of individuals with a valid motorcycle license endorsement at the end of the 2015 calendar year (the latest data available) included the largest number of people in history. State officials also note that injuries and traffic fatalities involving motorcycle riders and their passengers have also increased significantly. In 2015, for instance, fatalities jumped 33 percent over the previous year, with overall motorcyclist injuries jumping roughly 10 percent.
Misunderstandings About Motorcycle Safety
Drivers of passenger cars who have never experienced the enjoyment of operating a motorized two-wheeler on a warm summer's day often glaze their eyes when motorcycle safety is discussed in the public forum. There are many misconceptions about motorcycle safety, including the common thread among non-riders that suggests motorcycle safety is "their" problem. While it is true that slightly less than 40 percent of motorcycle crashes are single vehicle accidents, slightly more than 60 percent involve another vehicle.
Notably, a motorcycle wreck involving only the bike is not necessarily the fault of the rider - defective parts, poorly maintained roads and other factors may lead to a serious motorcycle wreck that is beyond the control of the rider. State officials say that when another vehicle is involved in a wreck with a motorcycle, law enforcement determines that driver error on the part of the other vehicle is more often the main contributing factor to the crash.
The two main causes of motorcycle accidents that involve another vehicle include:
- The failure to yield: Drivers of trucks, cars or any other type of vehicle pull out in front of a motorcyclist who has the right of way in 42 percent of two-vehicle motorcycle accidents, according to DPS.
- Distracted driving or inattentiveness: Motorcyclists are well aware that many other drivers simply fail to see an approaching motorcycle -- or a bike in near proximity to the car when the driver makes a sudden lane change. Inattentiveness or distracting driving is a factor in 17 percent of two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle.
Motorcycle accidents are often preventable. Unfortunately, motorcyclists and their passengers are at a higher risk for serious injury or death in an accident than individuals traveling in most any other type of motor vehicle. Victims or family members of a victim need to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer who knows how to investigate and analyze the individual facts to obtain the best results possible.