Life on Two Wheels: Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Ask motorcycle owners why they prefer two wheels instead of four, and you’ll hear a variety of different reasons: fuel efficiency, the sense of freedom and adventure, ease of parking, camaraderie, reduced carbon footprint, and – it almost goes without saying – riding a bike is the iconic image of cool.

While motorcycle enthusiasts are as loyal to their mode of transportation as Antony was to Cleopatra, it’s no secret that it can be a dangerous way to get from point A to point B. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in an accident.

What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents, and what should bikers be on the lookout for to reduce the likelihood of becoming a casualty?

Cars Turning Left

Without a doubt, this is the most common cause of accidents involving motorcycles. Left turns are also riskier for cars, but a motorcycle’s smaller size means it is less visible, and an inattentive driver may not even see it. When making a left turn, drivers look for oncoming cars, or more correctly, for the absence of oncoming cars; an approaching motorcycle may not even register with a driver on the lookout for four-wheeled vehicles. A popular bumper sticker says “Look Twice, Save a Life,” and for good reason: over 40% of all motorcycle accidents are caused when inattentive drivers turn left in front of an oncoming bike.

Cars Changing Lanes

As mentioned, motorcycles are simply harder to see. So accidents often occur when a driver fails to see a bike and changes lanes, either hitting the bike or cutting it off. Motorcycles easily disappear into blind spots, and most drivers, when checking their blind spot, are looking for cars, not motorcycles.

Riding Between Lanes

When traffic is at a standstill and there are brake lights as far as the eye can see, it can be very tempting to jump into the space between the cars and put the gridlock far behind you. This is extremely dangerous, for a couple of reasons. First, the motorcycle is very close to the cars, giving it very little room to maneuver; the slightest waver to the right or left could end up in an accident. Second, drivers of cars are not anticipating that a motorcycle will zip past when traffic is not moving, and lane changes – or even an opening door – can be a recipe for disaster.

In some states, lane splitting is illegal. Motorcycle riders are prohibited from entering another vehicle’s space and riding between lanes. If a motorcyclist does this and an accident occurs, they’ll likely be found at fault.


While a good bike with good tires can manage quite well on wet roads, rain definitely raises the risk factor. Roads become more slippery, and surfaces like manhole covers or patches of oil on the pavement become much more hazardous. Additionally, visibility decreases – not just for the biker, but for everyone. If drivers have difficulty seeing motorcycles on a bright, sunny day, imagine how much harder it is in the rain.

Despite a slight decline in motorcycle accidents, they still represent a large percentage of traffic-related injuries. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, you need the best legal help you can get. A Fort Collins accident attorney has the expertise to manage the complex legal system and fight for the full compensation you deserve.


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