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What Is a Major Cause of Death in Motorcycle Accidents?

Trusted Content
Legally reviewed by:
Erik Abrahamson
February 9, 2021
February 9, 2021 | Motorcycle Accidents, Articles & FAQ

Driving and riding on a motorcycle is a fun and exhilarating experience. Many individuals who ride motorcycles also have cars or trucks but also ride motorcycles as a hobby.

Riding a motorcycle can give you an adrenaline rush similar to the one you may experience through other recreational activities like surfing, climbing, or skiing. Like these other activities, riding a motorcycle requires concentration.

With that concentration and adrenaline, many motorcyclists, like skiers and surfers, report a feeling of calm, oneness, and freedom as they ride. This feeling of oneness is similar to the feelings one may achieve through meditation. In a lot of ways, riding a motorcycle is a form of meditation.

Despite the fun and exhilaration of riding a motorcycle, doing so is more dangerous than riding in or driving a car. Motorcycle fatality rates greatly exceed those of driving cars, as do injury rates. Even when a motorcyclist is careful, accidents can happen, and injuries are often more severe than those resulting from similar car accidents.

To ride a motorcycle more safely, it is important to ask the question, what is the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents? By knowing the most common cause of motorcycle fatality, you can take steps to protect yourself as a motorcyclist. And if you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence it is worth speaking with an experienced Florida motorcycle accident attorney near you about the possibility of pursuing a personal injury claim.

Motorcycle Fatalities at a Glance

In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 4,985 motorcyclist deaths on U.S. roads. The 4,985 fatalities were 5% lower than 2017’s number. Put another way, this number put the fatality rate of motorcyclists at 24.83 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2018.

To put this in perspective, compared to car occupants, the 24.83 fatality rate in 2018 was 27 times higher than the same fatality rate for cars. The major cause of death in motorcycle accidents and these higher numbers show the big difference in risk between driving a motorcycle, which does not have the safety features of a car, versus riding in a closed-cabin vehicle.

Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous Than Cars or Trucks?

The main reason why motorcycles are more dangerous to drive than conventional automobiles is that motorcycles offer little or no physical protection to their riders. Cars and trucks are literal metal cages. In an accident, the metal cage surrounding occupants absorbs much of the force of impact.

The more of the impact the car absorbs, the less its occupants are subject to. Furthermore, each year, manufacturers redesign their cars and trucks to better absorb such shock and better protect their occupants.

Conversely, when you’re riding a motorcycle, you are exposed directly to the force of impact. Absorbing the force of such an impact means injuries are more severe. The continuous redesign of cars to reduce occupant impact in a car accident just isn’t possible for motorcycle manufacturers. 

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What Is the Main Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

One major reason for motorcycle accidents is that they are harder to see on the road. This is why lack of visibility is the main cause of motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are obviously much smaller than conventional cars or trucks.

Motorcycles also have smaller and fewer lights than cars or trucks. As a result, your visibility while riding a motorcycle is much less than that of a car or truck. If other drivers can’t see you, it is harder for them to avoid a potential collision.

If someone is in a semi-truck or other vehicle high off the ground, your visibility as a motorcyclist decreases even more. The size of trucks and their impact on motorcycle visibility combine to create even more danger for motorcyclists than small or midsize cars.

The Most Common Cause of Fatalities in Motorcycle Accidents

By far, the major cause of death in motorcycle accidents is head injuries. Your head is the most important part of your body. Also, it is one of the easiest parts of your body to injure. Because your head does not have the same protection on a motorcycle as it does in a car, riding a motorcycle puts your head at a higher risk of trauma and injury.

The impact of your head colliding with a metal vehicle or the impact of hitting the road when you fly off your motorcycle exposes your head and brain to great danger. 


How to Ride a Motorcycle More Safely

The most important step you can take to protect your life as a motorcyclist is to protect your head. The best way to protect your head is by wearing your helmet. The NHTSA estimates that helmets prevented 1,872 motorcyclist deaths in 2017 alone. Furthermore, the NHTSA estimates that for every 100 motorcyclist deaths, more than one-third (37%) would be preventable if all motorcyclists wore their helmets.

To help choose a safe and effective helmet that fits your needs, check out some reviews on pages like Revzilla. Having the right helmet could save your life.

Because lack of visibility is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents, a second step you can take to protect yourself as a motorcycle rider is to make sure you are as visible as possible on the road.

Most motorcycle crashes are caused by a lack of visibility. To avoid this, make sure your lights are in good working condition every time you ride your motorcycle. Consider keeping a couple of replacement lights with you when you ride in case one of your lights goes out. 

Another step you can take to improve your visibility is to wear clothing that makes you more visible to other drivers. Consider purchasing a reflective vest for when you ride, especially if you plan to ride your motorcycle at night. A reflective vest like one of these is an inexpensive and easy way to improve your visibility on the road.

Also see our 7 Safety Tips for Motorcyclists for more helpful tips on how to be safe while operating your motorcycle.

Have You or a Loved One Been in a Motorcycle Accident?

If one of your loved ones dies in a motorcycle accident and you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in Florida, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible.

The attorneys here at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have a great deal of experience with wrongful death claims, and motorcycle accidents are one of our focus areas. With this combination of experience, we are ready to help you through the loss of your loved one with compassion and effectiveness.

We can help you get the compensation you deserve and take care of all the details, so you don’t have to worry about them. We have fought for our clients’ rights for over 30 years, so let us fight for you. Contact us today for a free case review.

What Our Happy Clients Say About Us On Google:

They did an excellent job with my motorcycle accident. Jennifer kept me updated with the progress of the case. Thanks again for handling my case.

Mark K.
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