Many Texans enjoy the freedom of riding their motorcycles. Texas can be a motorcyclist’s dream destination, given the warm weather in much of the state and the diverse scenery.
However, motorcyclists face far more risks on the road than other motorists. Unlike other vehicles, a motorcycle offers no protection to the motorcycle driver. As a result, motorcyclists are far more likely to be injured due to the negligence of other drivers. Cars, trucks, and other vehicles on the road need to exercise extra caution on the road for the safety of motorcyclists.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are four times more likely to be injured than other motorists. Additionally, motorcyclists represent a disproportionate number of fatalities on U.S. highways. In 2019, motorcyclists were 29 times more likely to die in an accident than other motorists per vehicle miles traveled.
Given the magnitude of motorcycle accidents and the risks involved, knowing the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Texas is essential. Awareness of these causes could prevent future motorcycle-involved accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
The Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Texas
Below are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Texas. Drivers and motorcycle riders should exercise caution when traveling the roadways so that everyone can safely arrive at their destinations.
A common cause of motorcycle accidents is an unlicensed motorcyclist. You must have a Class M license to ride a motorcycle in Texas. Texas also requires a prospective motorcyclist to take a motorcycle safety course to obtain a Class M license to operate a motorcycle. A motorcycle safety course usually consists of at least 10 hours of motorcycle skills training. This is so that a new motorcyclist can learn how to operate a motorcycle and be cautious of motorcycle-specific hazards.
Unfortunately, however, many motorcyclists on the road don’t bother to take the course or obtain a motorcycle license. This can cause serious incidents on the road. The NHTSA reported that about 30% of all motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents in 2019 did not have a valid motorcycle license.
Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is an inexperienced motorcyclist. Like an individual driving without a license, an inexperienced motorcyclist can cause a great deal of harm on the road. Operating a motorcycle is significantly different from driving a car, so it is critical to take time to learn how to handle a motorcycle properly.
Plus, riding motorcycles involves greater risks than driving other motor vehicles. There are no airbags or seat belts to protect you on a motorcycle. When rain, wind, or other road conditions occur, an inexperienced motorcyclist may panic or not know how to handle the problem. Only time and practice in less risky environments can help an inexperienced motorcyclist prepare for the open road.
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence is a crime and a common cause of motorcycle accidents in Texas. A person operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol puts everyone on the road at risk of serious injury or death. Alcohol impairs your ability to observe and react to conditions on the road. In 2019, one-third of all traffic fatalities involved a drunk driver.
Riding a motorcycle requires a keen awareness of your surroundings and quick responses to things that happen along the road. A motorcyclist under the influence cannot appropriately react while riding. Yet, 25% of fatal crashes that involved a motorcycle had a drunk motorcycle operator. This common cause of motorcycle accidents is easily preventable—don’t drink or use and drive!
Motorcycles are more difficult to handle and control than cars. A road with debris, cracks, crumbling pavement or potholes can be challenging for a motorcyclist to navigate and avoid falling over. Plus, because motorcycles have little to protect the rider from the outside world, any bump in the road could send a rider flying.
Additionally, a roadway that isn’t ordinarily dangerous can become hazardous during inclement weather. Winds can blow debris into the motorcyclist’s pathway, and a storm can cause slippery pavement or even flooding. Motorcycle riders can be particularly at risk of motorcycle accident injuries during weather events that perhaps do not seem significant for a car driver who is protected from the elements.
Not Checking a Blind Spot
Unsafely changing lanes is a common cause of motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are much smaller than most other vehicles and can hide in a driver’s blind spot. If a driver changes lanes without taking the second to look in their blind spot, they can easily hit a motorcyclist.
A driver’s failure to observe the rules at intersections can easily result in an accident. For a motorcycle, this can be fatal. In fact, 1 in 3 motorcycle accident fatalities occur at an intersection, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
A common cause of motorcycle accidents is distracted driving. Nowadays, drivers have many things that can distract them while driving. Texting, making phone calls, or looking for a good podcast all take the driver’s attention away from the road. A split second of distracted driving can have serious consequences, especially for a motorcyclist.
Reckless driving is potentially deadly for all people on the roadways, particularly a motorcycle rider who is more exposed than passengers in other vehicles. When drivers weave in and out of lanes, they pay little attention to their blind spots. Because of their small size, motorcyclists hide in the blind spots of drivers. A reckless driver can easily hit a motorcyclist, resulting in significant motorcycle accident injuries.
Speeding reduces the ability of a driver to react to things that happen on the road and requires a longer braking distance than traveling at the posted speed limit. If a speeding driver sees an obstruction in the road and swerves because they don’t have the distance to brake, they can crash into a motorcyclist.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney for Your Motorcycle Accident Case
Motorcycle accidents can result in significant injuries. Motorcyclists have little to protect them from harm if they lose control or collide with another vehicle. Medical bills add up from the injuries, and if you are injured, you likely have lost wages. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need an accessible and aggressive attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve. The Hartley Law Firm is here to help you. We represent injured victims like you in motorcycle accident cases. Contact us today to get started.