When motorcyclists are involved in wrecks they are more likely to be seriously injured than the occupants of cars or trucks. There are many causes of motorcycle accidents but other drivers are often to blame.
Studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration based on 2015 figures suggest motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to be killed in wrecks than car drivers.
In Virginia, increasing numbers of riders are losing their lives. According to the Virginia Highway Safety Office, 107 motorcyclists were killed in Virginia in 2017, representing 12.7 percent of all road deaths. Motorcycle wrecks left 1,670 riders or passengers injured. Motorcycle accidents comprised just 1.7 percent of traffic crashes that year. The figure highlights the disproportionately dangerous nature of motorcycle wrecks.
The 2017 figure was a significant increase on 2016 when 72 riders were killed in Virginia and 1,565 were injured.
It’s common knowledge that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car. However, many drivers fail to respect riders or give them the space they deserve. Every year, motorcyclists are killed on the highways of Hampton, Newport News or elsewhere due to drivers who fail to see them or give them enough space.
As a rider, you can anticipate some of these problems through defensive driving, anticipating problems and moderating your speed.
However, there may be nothing you can do when a car makes a sudden turn or appears in front of you on the highway.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Virginia
1) Cars and Trucks Making Left Turns
Often when our Virginia motorcycle accident lawyers help an injured rider or the family of a deceased rider, the wreck was caused by another driver making a left turn.
As many as four in 10 motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers making a left turn. The driver frequently fails to see a motorcyclist or misjudges the speed of the rider, causing the motorcycle to hit the side of the car. In many cases, a rider will swerve to avoid a car making a turn and crash.
Intersection crashes can prove deadly for riders even at relatively low speeds. By anticipating drivers who are poised to turn, a rider may be able to take evasive action to avoid a crash.
Be aware of your surroundings and look out for signs that a vehicle may be about to turn front of you. When you are approaching an intersection on your motorcycle, you should slow down and prepare to brake and even take evasive action. Watch out for gaps in the traffic that another driver may seek to move into.
2) Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is a common cause of motorcycle accidents. It occurs when a motorcyclist drives in between two lanes of traffic when it has stopped or is moving slowly. This can cause a dangerous situation because drivers don’t anticipate a vehicle passing them.
If you are worried you are going to be hit from behind and feel forced to lane split, be careful and do it slowly. Sudden movements can cause accidents.
3) Blind Spots While Passing
Most cars have blind spots and trucks have large blind spots. Drivers can miss another car seeking to pass them and change lanes, causing an accident. Drivers are even more likely to miss a motorcyclist in their blind spot.
Riders should be aware of the locations of blind spots and be very careful when passing. If possible, move to a far lane away from traffic and make sure not to linger in a blind spot.
4) Entering a Curve at a High Speed
Riders should slow down when entering a curve. They are less likely to lose control and this allows them to see ahead. Losing control on a curve is a common cause of motorcycle accidents.
Make sure to maintain a steady speed when heading into a curve. Only ride as fast as you can see ahead and use visual clues like poles and signs to judge the direction of the road. Watch out for dangerous hazards like gravel on the road.
5) Being Hit from Behind by a Car
Cars may hit motorcyclists if they suddenly slow down. The kind of rear-ender that can cause a fender bender when two cars are involved, can seriously injure or kill a biker. Avoid stopping suddenly if possible and always be aware of traffic behind you.
You can try to avoid this dangerous situation by pulling safely in front of a car at a road intersection, protecting you from a possible rear-ender. Riders may gain more protection by stopping at the side rather than the center of a traffic lane, keeping their bike in gear and their right hand on the throttle.
6) Opened Car Doors
The scenario of a car door being suddenly opened, hitting a rider is so common it has been given the term ‘dooring.’
Cyclists are particularly vulnerable. They refer to the area close to the door of a stopped car as the ‘death zone.’
Motorcyclists have also been killed or injured when a negligent driver or passenger fails to look and opens a car door on the highway side. You can help minimize the danger from dooring accidents by keeping your speed down and not riding too closely to parked cars.
Lawsuits After Virginia Motorcycle Accidents
If you have been injured in a Virginia motorcycle accident in Hampton, York County, Norfolk, Virginia Beach or elsewhere, you may need to recover as much as possible for extreme injuries and high medical bills. Motorcyclists often suffer serious head, neck and back injuries. Amputations are more common in motorcycle wrecks.
It’s important to hire an experienced Virginia trial lawyer with a long track record in these cases. Please contact us at 757.244.7000.
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