Motorcycle Accidents in Texas: Facts and Figures
By Grant McFarland
Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars. In addition, they also often have high performance capabilities including handling and speed. As a result, riders are often lured into a false sense of security on the road, believing their riding skill will allow them to avoid an accident. Unfortunaltely, nothing could be further from the truth.
When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they're more likely to be injured or killed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that per mile traveled in 2014, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 25 times the number of deaths in cars.
The most common type of motorcycle accident in the United States is when a motorist pulls out or turns in front of a motorcyclist. This is sometimes called a SMIDSY, an acronym formed from the motorists' common response of "Sorry Man, I Didn't See You". The best way to avoid this type of crash is with proper training, helmet usage, avoiding head on collisions, driving the speed limit, and not consuming alcohol or other drugs before riding. The best way to reduce the chance for serious injury or death is to wear a helmet.
The Texas Department of Public Safety offers training for motorcycle riders. There are three types of training courses: (1) Courses accepted for licensing, (2) Advanced and (3) Specialized. There are over 200 course locations in Texas. To get pricing and schedules or to register for a course in your area, visit https://www.dps.texas.gov/msb/thecourse.htm. Tinsman & Sciano highly recommends receiving the appropriate training and license prior to operating a motorcycle.
Because serious head injuries commonly occur to fatally injured motorcycle riders, helmet use is vitally important. Helmets are highly effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and in preventing brain injuries. Despite this overwhelming and obvious benefit, only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders. Texas does not require riders to wear a helmet.
Motorcycles in Head-On Collisions
Crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles account for more than half of all motorcycle accident deaths. In the vast majority of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front. These types of head-on collisions between a car and motorcycle are often fatal to the motorcyclist. Because the motorcycle rider is not surrounded by a rigid metal structure, and is more likely to be thrown from the bike, these accidents are far more deadly when riding a motorcycle.
The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists occurs when cars are making left-hand turns. These collisions account for 42% of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car. Usually, the turning car strikes the motorcycle when the motorcycle is:
- going straight through an intersection
- passing the car, or
- trying to overtake the car.
In most cases, a vehicle that hits another vehicle while making a left-hand turn will be found at fault for the accident. However, if the motorcycle driver was speeding or in the wrong lane, he or she may be partly at fault for the accident. In most states, this means the motorcyclist will get less compensation from the driver of the car for injuries and damages caused during an accident. In a few states, the motorcyclists behavior could bar recovery altogether. To learn more about the law when both drivers are partially at fault, please contact Tinsman & Sciano.
Motorcyclist Speeding & Alcohol Use
About half of the accidents involving a single motorcycle are caused by speeding or alcohol use. This statistic is not surprising and these factors play a large role in accidents among cars and other vehicles as well. However, because motorcycles don't provide anywhere near as much protection to the rider, crashes involving speeding or alcohol are much more likely to result in death or serious injury. Remember, don’t drink and ride!
Motorcyclists are more at risk for fatal or serious accidents on the road than are drivers. Yet, motorcycle riders can increase safety by being aware of the common causes of accidents and taking steps to reduce or avoid the risk. Remember, be vigilant and safe out there on the roads.