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What is The Main Cause of Motorcycle Accidents

By Aghabegian & Associates on November 17, 2021

Motorcycle accidents are all too common. In fact, in 2019 alone, 5,014 motorcyclists were killed and an estimated 84,000 were injured in the United States. It was also reported that motorcycle fatalities occurred nearly 29 times more frequently than passenger car fatalities in the U.S. in 2019. Given these statistics, it’s important that motorcyclists across the country be aware of the main causes of motorcycle accidents so that they can do their best to avoid them.

One of the main causes of motorcycle accidents in the United States is the failure of other drivers to detect motorcycles on the road. As they are much smaller in size than the average automobile, their visibility can easily be obstructed by other cars or blind spots. Thus, it can be challenging for even the most attentive driver to spot a motorcycle on the road. For this reason, the California Highway Patrol recommends that motorcyclists wear brightly-colored or reflective clothing, especially when engaging in risky maneuvers such as lane splitting. As failure to recognize motorcycles on the road is a serious issue, the more visible motorcyclists can make themselves, the better.

Other leading causes of motorcycle crashes in the United States include left-turning vehicles, speeding, reckless or aggressive driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unsafe lane changes, car doors opening, dangerous or hazardous road conditions, motorcycle defects, sudden stops, and lane splitting. Below, we delve deeper into a few of these main causes, including left-turning cars and lane switching, as well as one of the most traumatic types of motorcycle accidents: head-on collisions.

Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Left Turning Cars

Left turns may not seem particularly dangerous in the world of driving but to motorcycles they are. Left-turning vehicles are one of the leading causes of motorcycle crashes in the United States. The reasons behind this relate to visibility. The first instance is when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist’s left turn signal, which may be smaller and less obvious than that on a car. The result is that the driver believes the motorcyclist to be going straight rather than making a left-hand turn, and they continue through the intersection, hitting the motorcycle. The second instance occurs when a driver is making a left-hand turn at an intersection and mistakenly crashes into a motorcycle. Even if a driver remembers to check their mirrors before making the turn, it’s possible that the motorcycle could be in their car’s blind spot or hidden from view in another way. Ultimately, left turns can be dangerous for everyone on the road but especially so for motorcyclists owing to their limited visibility.  

Lane Switching Motorcycle Accidents

Lane switching and lane splitting are two other common causes of motorcycle accidents. Lane switching, or lane changing, can be especially dangerous to motorcycles when not conducted safely. A driver can easily collide with a motorcyclist if they fail to see them when attempting to change lanes. The safest way for drivers to switch lines is by signaling that they are doing so and checking all mirrors and blind spots beforehand. Similarly, lane splitting can also lead to motorcycle accidents, as when a motorcyclist splits lanes (meaning they ride their motorcycle between two lanes of slow moving or stopped traffic), they may be less visible to vehicles, increasing the chances of an accident. Although lane splitting is legal in the state of California, it can be dangerous if not conducted safely, and therefore should only be maneuvered by experienced riders in states where it is legal. The California Highway Patrol published a list of Lane Splitting Safety Tips for Motorcyclists in 2018, which includes the likes of avoiding lane splitting next to large vehicles, such as semi-trucks or trailers, making yourself as visible as possible and avoiding other vehicles’ blind spots, splitting between the far left lanes of traffic rather than the right lanes, and lane splitting at lower speeds.

Head-On Collision Motorcycle Accidents

As mentioned above, nearly 85,000 Americans were injured in a motorcycle accident in the United States in 2019. Of the motorcycle accidents that occurred, some would likely have been head-on collisions. A head-on collision is when the front end of a motorcycle collides with the front end of another vehicle. Head-on collision motorcycle accidents can have many causes, including those mentioned above. For example, a head-on collision may be the result of distracted or impaired driving, a vehicle swerving into oncoming traffic to avoid hazardous road conditions, such as construction or an animal, mechanical defects like brake failure or a stuck accelerator, speeding that leads to a loss of control over the vehicle, or environmental factors, such as black ice or excessive rain leading to hydroplaning. Whatever the cause of the head-on motorcycle collision, the results can be severe, even fatal. Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include head and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries, road rash, fractures, biker’s arm, and lower-extremity injuries. Given the fact that motorcycles lack the protective steel frame of most cars and often do not have the same safety features as vehicles, a head-on collision involving a motorcycle makes injury all the more likely for the rider. To keep yourself and others safe from harm, it’s critical to drive safely, drive the speed limit, make yourself as visible as possible, and avoid dangerous driving practices, such as lane splitting.


Motorcycle accidents happen. No matter the cause, whether it was lane switching, a left-turning car, driving under the influence, or something else entirely, a motorcycle crash can result in serious injuries, both physical and emotional. If you were recently injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the other driver’s negligence or recklessness, you might have a personal injury case on your hands. We don’t believe you should suffer in silence. Instead, you should fight for the compensation you deserve. That’s where we come in. Aghabegian & Associates, PC is a Southern California-based law firm specializing in personal injury cases. Over the years, we have helped our clients, many of which were motorcycle accident victims, secure millions of dollars in damages. To learn more about filing a motorcycle accident injury claim or to find out if your case is worth pursuing, contact us today and schedule a free consultation. Aghabegian & Associates, PC offers free consultations to all prospective clients and operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay anything unless we win your case. Let our motorcycle accident injury attorneys help you win the compensation you deserve. 

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