What commonly causes motorcycle crashes?

There are many potential causes of motorcycle accidents. Some of the most common include:

  • Driving under the influence. Alcohol and drugs affect brain function. They can slow down your reflexes and make it difficult to react quickly to changing conditions. Drugs and alcohol can impair your vision and your ability to judge depth and distance. All of these functions are critical for operating a motorcycle safely. In one recent year, alcohol-related accident deaths accounted for 314 fatalities, which were 27.6 percent of the total fatalities.
  • Speeding. Speeding is a significant factor in crashes. Speed increases the chance of loss of control, and a driver who is speeding is less able to see and react to other drivers. Approximately 33 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were speeding, compared to 19 percent for passenger vehicles, and the injuries suffered in a high-speed accident are usually more severe.
  • Left-turn accidents. Statistics show that 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car happen when cars are making left-hand turns, such as when a motorcyclist travels through an intersection or passes a car at the moment a carless motorist turns across the motorcyclist’s path.
  • Unsafe lane changes. A motorcycle’s small size makes it less visible to other motorists than other vehicles. Accidents frequently happen when a motorist fails to check a blind spot and turns into a motorcyclist’s path.
  • Lane splitting. Lane splitting is especially risky for new or inexperienced motorcyclists. It is not permitted in Pennsylvania.
  • Abrupt stops. When other vehicles stop suddenly, it may lead to a rear-end collision. A motorcyclist trying to swerve may lose control of the bike.
  • Car doors. A driver seated in a parked car may fail to see a motorcycle approaching from the rear and open the car door directly into the motorcyclist’s path.
  • Unlicensed motorcyclists. In one recent year, 24 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions did not have a valid motorcycle license.
  • Unsafe road conditions. Motorcycles are less stable than 4-wheeled vehicles, so uneven road surfaces, ruts, or other poor road conditions can cause accidents.
  • Motorcycle defects. The defective design or manufacturing of a motorcycle may lead to an accident.
  • Collisions between motorcycles and fixed objects. Even when wearing a helmet, motorcyclists are relatively unprotected. Crashing into a stationary object on a motorcycle throws the rider from the bike and causes serious injuries.