Understanding Motorcycle Wrecks

Motorcycles are a very different entity to cars.  When it comes to causes of motorcycle accidents there are many.  However, this is because motorcycles are on two wheels, offer less protection, and can accelerate at speed much faster then many 4-wheel vehicles.  In addition, the protection gear for motorcycle accidents can leave a lot to be desired for true safety.  Therefore, if you are a motorcyclist or even a motorist of other vehicles, it is very important to know what causes motorcycle accidents so you are less likely to be involved in one.

According to NOLO, an online database of legal information, there are different categories for motorcycle accidents.  It is important to understand these in order to understand the causes.

Categories of Motorcycle Accidents:

  • Motorcycles in Head-On Collisions
  • Cars Making Left-Hand Turns
  • Motorcycle Lane Splitting
  • Motorcyclist Speeding & Alcohol Use
  • Collisions Between Motorcycles and Fixed Objects
  • Road Hazards Facing Motorcyclists
  • High-Performance Motorcycles


As you can see from the list, the categories start to shed light on what causes motorcycle accidents.  It is easy to understand that accidents are not always the fault of the motorcyclist; however, in many cases motorcyclists can do things to reduce their chances of accidents, which will be discussed a little later.  For now, let’s understand the causes based on the categories.

In head-on collisions the statistics are staggering.  According to NOLO, “Crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles account for 56% of motorcycle accident deaths. In the vast majority of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front – 78% of the time. (The car strikes the motorcycle from the rear only 5% of the time.)”  Not only are two-thirds of the collisions head first, but 60% of them are deadly.  This is most likely due to vehicles crossing mediums or perhaps making sharp turns where a vehicle is coming straight at them with no chance of avoidance.

Cars making left-hand turns account for 42% of all motorcycle accidents.  This is most likely because when a car is making a left-hand turn, the driver may not see a fast-moving motorcycle coming, may be trying to cross multiple lanes, or may make an error in judgment causing them to short the turn and cause a collision.  In addition, the motorcyclist may get caught trying to pass another vehicle and not see the left-turning vehicle or try to overtake the car.  The results of these accidents can vary based on the speeds of the vehicles.

The remaining categories are somewhat self-explanatory.  To summarize them though, when motorcyclists try to drive in between lanes, speed while intoxicated, hit fixed objects like lane barriers, hit road hazards such as potholes or bumps, or are high-performance fast vehicles, accidents are more likely to occur.  Generally in these cases, lack of space and speed that reduces reaction time cause these accidents.

Recent Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents

  • In 2013, 4,668 people died in motorcycle crashes, down 6.4 percent from 4,986 in 2012, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report.
  • In 2013, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured, down 5.4 percent from 93,000 in 2012.
  • Motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled in 2012 and five times more likely to be injured.
  • There were about 8.5 million motorcycles on the road in 2012.


These statistics are from a report listed on the Insurance Information Institutes website from March of 2015.  Despite some of the declines in deaths and injuries, you can see that motorcyclists are 26 more times likely to die in accidents than passenger automobile accidents. When riding a motorcycle this is important information to consider so you are aware of the potential consequences.

It is important to note that despite the facts, there are some deductions one can make about driving more safely to reduce the possibility of motorcycle accidents.  This goes for both motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers.  Some things that can be done include the following:

  • Follow all traffic laws
  • Slow down and drive at the speed limit
  • Wear the required and highly rated safety gear
  • Stop and look where you are going
  • Avoid trying to speed through lights
  • Stay in your lane
  • Avoid left-hand turns at high volume intersections

With knowledge of the causes of accidents as well as some of the ways to reduce them, perhaps more people will enjoy a safer driving experience and reduce motorcycle accidents.  Motorcycles can be fun and exhilarating to drive, but they can also be moving projectiles up against larger and sturdier moving projectiles.  Using common sense and following laws can save lives.

André Bélanger, a graduate of Loyola University, is a highly-respected criminal defense attorney serving the people of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and surrounding areas of Ascension Parish and New Orleans, for one of Baton Rouge’s top-25 law firms. In his 18 years of practicing law, Mr. Bélanger has handled thousands of criminal cases at both the pre-trial and trial stage, including approximately 200 trials. This trial experience includes homicide defense and prosecution, large drug conspiracies and fraud cases making Bélanger one of the few attorneys capable of handling even the largest, most complex federal cases. Having spent years devoted to developing a top-tier regional law practice for federal court and state court litigation, Mr. Bélanger is admitted to practicing law in all federal courts in both Louisiana, Mississippi, the United States Supreme Court and the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. A strong commitment to the justice system, Mr. Bélanger has begun to forge his trial skills in the criminal courtroom in an effort to establish his own personal injury trial practice. This is a major boon for his clients, as few personal injury “trial attorneys” have appreciable jury trial experience.