Why Do Motorcycles Crash ?

Whoose Fault Was It ?
Rider Error 40%

Doesn’t it sound crazy that riders are the cause of almost half of their own accidents?  So what are they doing wrong?  In a majority of single vehicle motorcycle accidents, it is simply a bike going too wide in a corner.

Does that mean the rider was going too fast, well maybe.  Too fast for the rider’s skills perhaps. Many times when re-constructed, the corner was well within the limits of what the bike could safely handle.  You never know what was going through the head of a rider right before they crashed, but there are common factors.

Target Fixation

It is a simple fact that the bike goes where you look.  If you haven’t already learned this concept, you have not taken a Basic Rider Course by Team Oregon, or the official training body in your state.  This is far too important….no matter how long you have ridden an motorcycle, you need to take at least an intermediate course.  There is no room for ego in safety. 

Target Fixation refers to the phenomenon that riders will get fixed on the wrong thing….such as they think they are too fast into a corner and they’re afraid of going off the edge, so what do they look at…..THE EDGE!  And then that’s exactly where the bike heads…..always look where you want the bike to go, around the corner.  If you think you’re too fast, you’re only choice at that point it to ride it out. Push more on the inside grip and try to make, chances are….. you will.

Rear ending a car

Not paying attention 100% of the time.  You can get a little slack when you’re on the open road, but not much.  On a motorcycle you have very little room for error and mistakes can cost you severe injuries or death.  Consider what happens in a car when you let it drift off the shoulder just a tiny bit.  If you’re a knowledgeable driver you can recover that like nothing happened.  So you have some leeway, you can lose attention for a second without a disaster.  Now consider that same scenario on a motorcycle.  You only have two wheels, so when you drift off just a hair, you’re all the way off the road and your chances of recovery are next to nothing……it’s a crash.  You must pay attention all the time.  In town, in traffic there’s no room for error.

Drinking and Riding

I  shouldn’t have to even bring this up, however if you look at the number of motorcycles parked in front of taverns…..you see why guys refer to their bikes as, “bar hoppers.”  These people are stupid beyond belief, I have no other way to describe them.  You should not ride a motorcycle after any amount of alcohol.  A significant percentage of motorcycle fatalities are impaired riders, people over the legal limit of 0.8%.   So in reality if you just ride sober you have decreased the chances of an accident.

Five Ways to Avoid a Crash

Get Trained

Ride Sober

Practice Threshold Braking

Practice Swerving

Be Conspicuous

Someone Else 60%

These accidents involve another vehicle, such as when someone makes a left turn right in front of you.  You cannot directly prevent these since they’re not under your control like the rider error crashes.  But you can reduce the chances it will happen to you and you can avoid them or reduce your injuries.

Riding defensively through intersections is covered best by David Hough in, “Proficient Motorcycling” and we don’t pretend to know this stuff as well as he does.  But the basics bear repeating; look ahead, do you see someone preparing to make a left turn?  RED FLAG.  Pay more attention, cover your brake, slow down and be ready to take evasive action.

Sure 99% of the time they see you and you just ride on by, but what about the person who at the last moment goes for it? Really best to be prepared, if you’ve slowed down and you hit them you hit them,”softer.”  Still a crash, but maybe one you’ll get up and walk away from instead of staring at the ceiling of a paramedic ambulance …….or worse.

Black, I like Black !

Black motorcycle, black jacket and  black helmet is by far the most common color combination at least for the cruiser crowd.  I’m not against fashion, but if you’re main goal is fashion, don’t complain that car drivers don’t see you…..THEY REALLY DON’T SEE YOU.  I’m a safety professional, not a fashionista so I’m not a good judge of fashion.  Everyone I work with wears HiViz reflective clothing all day at work…you know why?  Because we don’t want to get ran over !!!  There is plenty of research to back up the issue of, “Conspicuity” or the ability to be seen.   People who don’t want to believe it, won’t but don’t be stupid.

I can see how wearing something brighter than black is the same as wearing black.  Really? You really don’t see the difference?
I heard one guy say, “If you wear all that bright stuff, they will target fixate on you and hit you!”  Oh, really.  If that were true, the Oscar Meyer weinermobile would be getting hit by motorcycles all day long.  Who doesn’t look at that!