Why Motorcycle Accidents Are A Battle Between Motorists And Motorcyclists

Perception is everything when it comes to accidents between a motorcyclist and a motorist. It is natural for a person not to want to take responsibility for their actions, especially when it comes to incidents that result in bodily harm to another person. What typically happens is people will remember what happens in a manner that they are only minimally at fault, if any at all.

Therefore, if you ask the motorcyclist who caused the accident, they will tell you the motorist. However, the operator of the car or truck will say to you the motorcyclist was driving erratically. It is the job of the accident investigator or personal injury lawyer to uncover the truth about what happened.

What Statistics Say

According to studies performed throughout the United States, many accidents between motorcyclists and motorists are the fault of the car or truck operator. In fact, it has been discovered that motorcycle accidents by failure to yield are the most common cause. Larger vehicles often fail to see there is a motorcyclist present when they go to make lane changes.

With that said, motorcyclists need to drive more defensively and acknowledge their vehicle is not as visible as a car or truck.

Motorcycle Accident Causes

According to studies performed by the United States Department of Transportation and several state organizations, the most common causes of motorcycle accidents are the following:

  • Loss of Control
  • Sudden Braking
  • Group Accidents
  • Road Conditions
  • Doors Being Opened
  • Alcohol or Drug Influence
  • Rear-end or Side Swipe
  • Failure to Yield
  • Limited Visibility

Loss of Control

Cars and trucks have four wheels, making it easier to recover from overcorrecting than motorcycles. When a biker takes sharp turns, brakes too fast, or travels at high speeds, they are more likely to lose control. It is essential to know how your bike responds to different scenarios and stay within the bike’s limits.

With that said, motorists need to be mindful that motorcycles cannot quickly move out of the way if they fail to yield right away or if you slam on your brakes.

Sudden Stopping

There are times when you cannot avoid sudden stopping and starting. Accidents, construction, roadway obstructions, and stopping traffic all can create a need to brake quickly. Whether you are in a car or on a motorcycle, these are dangerous times. Cars are designed to handle the situation better than motorcycles due to the four wheels evenly distributing the weight.

However, motorcyclists need to adjust to the weight shifting to the front of the bike quickly. Failure to do this will result in loss of control and wrecking. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate these situations entirely.

However, with defensive driving and awareness of traffic in front of you, it is possible to prevent most collisions. Motorists need to be more mindful of motorcyclists behind them that may not stop as quickly, and motorcyclists should know how their bike responds to a sudden stop.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Traveling in large groups is something that motorcyclists often do. Unfortunately, the more extensive collection of bikers in a small area increases the chances of an accident. If you decide to travel as a group, make sure you trust everyone knows how their bike responds and is experienced in handling a biker who moves in too close to another rider.

Failure to anticipate situations or being inexperienced in group travel will put everyone riding together in danger. Finally, you will want to have a way to communicate with all riders so if something happens at the front or back of the pack; everyone can be ready for a change.

Road Conditions

Unfortunately for motorcyclists, road conditions play a significant factor in their ability to drive safely. With cars, gravel, and debris on the pavement does not affect the driver’s ability to maneuver as much as a motorcycle. Grass clippings, rocks, and sand will reduce the operator’s effectiveness in turning corners or responding to changing traffic speeds. Property owners and other motorists need to be aware of a motorcyclist’s needs regarding traction on the pavement.

Doors and Mirror Accidents

A common accident in cities is a person opening car doors into motorcyclists or mirrors clipping a motorcycle in street traffic. Many collisions occur when the operator of the cycle swerves to attempt missing a door or mirror and loses control of their bike. A motorist must watch for other traffic, including pedestrians, before opening a door. Bikers also must know how their motorcycle will respond to a sudden swerve or stop.


Regardless of what type of vehicle you operate, mixing alcohol or drugs is never a good idea. Your reflexes and vision are reduced. It is one of the leading causes of all accidents. In addition to street drugs and alcohol, make sure you know how prescription and over-the-counter medication affects you before operating a motorized vehicle of any type. 

Collision Accidents

Side-swiping and rear-ending are two common forms of collision accidents that occur between motorists and cyclists. Even the slightest tap from a car can cause a motorcyclist to suffer a great deal of damage. They are completely exposed, while the surrounding metal protects a driver. Rear-ending a motorcyclist or hitting them on their side has the potential to cause a fatality.

If you stop too fast in a car, and the cyclist rear-ends you, they are less likely to suffer as much personal damage if they know how their bike responds. Visibility plays a huge factor, so motorcyclists are urged to always ride with lights on. There are other preventative measures a motorcyclist can take, but the bottom line is drivers must be aware that cyclists do not have the same protection drivers do.

Low Visibility

As mentioned above, motorcycles are hard to see because they are smaller than cars. Driving with your lights on and reflective strips on your clothing assists motorists. However, it is essential for drivers to watch for motorcyclists when entering intersections or changing lanes constantly. This is especially true during nicer weather when bikes are more prevalent.

Motorcyclists should also be conscious of the fact that they are hard to see and take caution around larger vehicles.


Motorcycle accidents by failure to yield is a preventable accident. While cyclists should take caution with the other cars on the road, drivers should constantly watch for smaller vehicles sharing the road. Accidents are prevented using the following methods:

1. Watching the road ahead of you and understanding what the traffic conditions are. You will have the ability to predict slowdowns and see any debris that is in your path. Bikers and drivers alike should always anticipate lane changing and weather-related traffic hazards.

2. Stay to the outside portion of the lane you are in. If you are in heavier traffic, motorcyclists should stay to the right side of the right lane and the left side of the left lane. However, this is not true of middle lanes, which are a dangerous place for a motorcyclist to travel in. Staying on the outside portion of the lane, you allow yourself faster maneuverability if a vehicle begins to change lanes on top of you.

3. All drivers should reduce their speed to posted speed limits. Motorcyclists who weave in-and-out of traffic at high speed increase their chances of being involved in a collision with substantial damages. Cars will not have the time to react, and motorcycles cannot protect the rider.

4. Motorcyclists often have to choose between two options when traffic comes to a stop suddenly. Neither is optimal, but instead of attempting to stop the bike, it is often a good idea to use the shoulder whenever available. The dangers of the shoulder include sand and debris that has been swept off the main roadway. However, sometimes it is better to get road rash than to fly over a vehicle, get rear-ended, or end up sandwiched between two cars. The goal is to use the first three methods to make this fourth unnecessary except in extreme situations.


We come to the point where we need to figure out how we can prevent accidents between motorists and motorcyclists. It boils down to three things:

  1. Respect for all people sharing the road
  2. Motorcyclists need to do everything possible to remain visible
  3. Safety measures should always be taken.

Both the operators of vehicles and riders of motorcycles should be aware of everyone on the road. Bikers that weave in and out of traffic prevent drivers from seeing them and responding safely.

On the other hand, operators of cars and trucks should take extra precaution for small motorists on the roadway. Bikers can prevent life-threatening injuries by wearing safety gear, including a helmet. Finally, wearing reflective clothing and utilizing the lights on your bike will make you stand out more.

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