What Is the Primary Cause of Motorcycle Crashes?

What Is the Primary Cause of Motorcycle Crashes?

causes of motorcycle accidents
Motorcycle accidents have been on the rise for the past ten years. There’s been a 20.5% increase in motorcyclist fatalities since 2011 (4,630). There were 5,579 motorcycle crash fatalities in 2020. Despite an increase in safety features and awareness, being a rider still has inherent dangers that are hard to avoid. But did you know what is the primary cause of motorcycle crashes?

Motorcycle riders should be vigilant on the roads and practice defensive riding. A key element of defensive riding is anticipating the actions of other motorists, even if they’re wrong. Read on as we discuss the main causes of motorcycle accidents.


Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a primary cause of motorcycle crashes in the United States. Driving recklessly refers to operating a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the lives and safety of others on the road. Motorists who engage in reckless driving can be held responsible for their actions. Penalties differ by state, but can include hefty fines, jail time, and license suspension.


One of the leading causes of motorcycle collisions is speeding which was a factor of 29% of all traffic fatalities in 2021. Speeding significantly reduces a motorist’s ability to slow down, stop, and avoid a motorcycle crash. Additionally, accidents that occur at high speeds often result in serious injuries that can be life-threatening, such as traumatic brain injuries.

Driving Under the Influence

Drunk driving is another top cause of traffic accidents in the US. Each day, about 32 people are killed in drunk-driving crashes. In 2020, there were 11,654 traffic fatalities caused by preventable accidents involving at least one impaired person. When motorists operate their vehicles while intoxicated their cognitive abilities and decision making is severely diminished. Therefore, it’s easy for intoxicated motorists to lose control of their vehicles, potentially causing catastrophic accidents.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents across the United States and claimed 3,522 lives in 2021. It is a common type of reckless driving that involves a motorist engaging in non-driving activities. Distracted driving can include engaging in the following behaviors while behind the wheel:

  • Texting or talking on the phone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Using your GPS or radio
  • Conversing with passengers

Disregard for Traffic Control Devices, Signs, or Signals

It is unlawful for motorists to disobey any traffic control devices, signs, and signals. For example, if a motorist runs a red light and hits a motorcycle rider, they may be cited and fined. The injured motorcyclist can pursue a personal injury claim to recover damages.

Some examples of traffic signs, signals, and devices include:

  • Traffic lights
  • Stop signs
  • Speed limits


Left-Turn Accidents

Left-turn accidents are one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. These kinds of crashes often occur at intersections and can be fatal. According to data from The U.S. Department of Transportation, over 50% of crashes, that involved motor vehicles crossing paths, involved left turns.

Motor vehicle drivers not checking their blind spots, low visibility, and speeding can all be contributing factors in these kinds of accidents.

In the event of a crash, generally, the person turning is primarily considered at fault. Anyone turning left must give way to oncoming traffic. However, there are situations where the person traveling straight may be held liable. For example, if the driver traveling straight was speeding, driving under the influence, or running a red light, they can be held accountable for their negligent actions.


Low Visibility

light trucks driving in the rain

Motorcycles are much smaller than passenger vehicles and it can be especially difficult to see a motorcycle rider who is in a car’s blind spot. This is especially dangerous because a motorist may think the coast is clear, make a lane change, and potentially hit a motorcyclist. Adverse weather conditions can also significantly impact visibility and riding conditions. Poor weather conditions can include rain, hail, snow, and wind.


Lane Splitting

motorcycle riders

Motorcycle accident prevention can be improved when riders err on the side of caution and assume that other motorists can not see them. If it is legal in your state to lane split, ensure you are only lane splitting when it’s safe to do so. Exercise caution, especially if you are moving between small spaces. Following these tips can help reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes.


Car Doors

‘Dooring’ occurs when motorists open their doors or leave their doors open to oncoming traffic the risk of a motorcyclist hitting a car door is high. Motorcycle riders may not have enough time to see the car door and avoid a motorcycle crash. Dooring is illegal in the majority of states across the United States.


Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions are the most dangerous type of accident for anyone on the road. The force of impact is magnified when two vehicles, traveling toward each other at different speeds, collide. In head-on collisions, vehicles can flip and roll over, often resulting in more significant damage and injuries.


Front-End Collisions

A front-end crash occurs when one vehicle brakes and the motorcyclist hits the back of the vehicle. Typically, in these kinds of accidents, the rear driver is liable. The reason for this is that motorists should always leave enough stopping distance. This is relative to your speed, but ideally, it should be two and a half cars’ lengths. In certain situations, the front driver may be liable, such as if they were distracted driving.


Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions occur when a driver’s motor vehicle hits the rear of another vehicle. These kinds of accidents are less common for motorcycles, but when they do occur they are often catastrophic or even fatal.

In rear-end collisions, the rear driver is typically considered at fault. The person behind should have left ample braking distance.

Unfortunately, without bumpers and the safety features of a car, even minor collisions can result in serious injuries, especially when a rider is thrown off of their bike. It is important to get a motorcycle accident attorney as many injuries may develop after the motorcycle accident.


Intersection and T-Bone Collisions

T-bone collisions occur when a vehicle goes into the side of another vehicle, creating a T-bone shape. These accidents most commonly occur at intersections, when people fail to obey light signals or stop signs. Low visibility can also be a significant factor in these kinds of crashes.


Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

personal injury lawsuit

While most motorcycle crashes are caused by driver negligence, there are certain measures you can take to exercise caution and avoid accidents. While you can’t always anticipate and account for the behavior of other road users, you can keep in mind what they may do and ride defensively.

At Alpha Accident Lawyers, we are committed to helping personal injury victims recover compensation for their injuries and damages. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, due to someone else’s negligent actions, it’s best to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. Our personal injury law firm offers free initial consultations and can provide you with the legal advocacy you need to win your motorcycle crash case. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.


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