Motorcycle Accident

A motorcycle accident can have severe consequences for riders and other individuals involved. In the United States, motorcycle accidents are a leading cause of roadway accidents resulting in death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 88,000 motorcyclists sustained injury due to a motorcycle accident in 2006. The same year, 4,810 motorcyclists were killed.

Motorcycle Accident Causes

A motorcycle accident may be caused by factors, including:

  • Roadway obstructions, detours, and defects
  • Motorcycle or automobile defects
  • Poor weather conditions such as rain, fog, or hail
  • Failure of motorcyclists and other drivers to use turn signals
  • Driver neglect of traffic conditions, signs, and speed limit
  • Motorcyclist lane splitting, or driving between two lanes
  • Failure of other drivers to see a motorcyclist due to glare, obstruction, or lack of attention
  • Drug or alcohol use by motorcyclists and other drivers

Motorcycle Accident Consequences

The NHTSA states that roughly 80 percent of motorcycle accident cases result in rider injury or death. Comparatively, only 20 percent of automobile accidents are estimated to result in injury or death. Depending on the severity of the motorcycle accident, victims may face extensive injuries and subsequent extensive recovery. A number of motorcycle accident victims sustain permanent disability or long-term injury.

Motorcycle accident injuries may include:

  • Collision with protective barriers, lampposts, fences, signs, and other objects along the roadside
  • Brain damage and concussion in cases where the motorcyclist’s head makes high-impact contact with objects or other vehicles
  • Breaking of joints and bones such as knees, ankles, elbows and hands
  • Damage to skin and muscle tissue due to road rash, or sliding against the surface of a road
  • “Biker’s arm,” or permanent arm paralysis due to nerve damage during a motorcycle accident
  • Disfigurement of the face when the motorcyclist fails to wear a full-face helmet, caused by contact with the road or other objects

Education and Prevention

Motorcyclists are urged to practice motorcycle safety both on and off the road. Ongoing education such as safety courses can help teach motorcyclists safe driving habits. Motorcycle safety courses can also provide motorcyclists with techniques for avoiding and handling dangerous situations. Motorcycle maintenance can also help to reduce motorcycle accident instances.

In addition to education, motorcyclists are encouraged to wear protective gear such as helmets and leather jackets. Motorcyclists should be sure that their helmets meet the safety requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Leather jackets can protect the motorcyclist’s body in the event of a motorcycle accident that causes impact with objects such as debris, other vehicles, or the road.


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“Motorcycle Crash-Related Data.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Jun 2012. Web. 20 Jul 2013. <>.

“Motorcycle Safety.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, n.d. Web. 20 Jul 2013. <>.

“Safety Tips for Motorcycles.” Share the Road Safely. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Web. 20 Jul 2013. <>.