Law Offices of Brian R. Whitehead, PC
503-967-8233

Top 5 causes of motorcycle accidents and how to protect yourself

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I have been riding street motorcycles for 40 years. Yes, I had a couple of serious crashes, but luckily all I have lost is bike parts and skin.

As a rider myself I know that motorcycle riders are uniquely vulnerable on the road. You have to be more aware and exercise a greater degree of care than you would in a car. There are some features of motorcycle accidents vs car accidents that require the experience and perspective of some one who actually rides. Having a better understanding of what we face as motorcycle riders, I'm in a better position to help our clients, especially when the other party tries to blame the accident on our client. That level of understanding from a fellow rider, is a first step in effective legal representation after a crash.

We all know, however, that we'd rather not get into motorcycle accidents in the first place. Here's a list of the 5 most common scenarios that cause motorcycle accidents and how you can help reduce your risk of being injured or even killed. In all cases, always wear appropriate safety equipment, and educate yourself as much as possible about motorcycle safety.

  • A car turns left in front of you or pulls right in front of you from a side street. In the above example, a safe rider would have been very aware of the car at the stop sign and the driving situation on the rest of the road. He or she would have slowed down and prepared to brake while looking for a way to take evasive action if necessary. Tip - Watch the wheels, not the car for signs of what the driver might do.

  • Riding through gravel (loose unstable road surface) in a blind corner. It happens. It could be gravel, a pile of dirt, leaves or anything else really. Your front wheel goes right into it, you lose control and crash. Avoiding it requires you to ride at a speed where your range of vision allows enough reaction time to avoid hitting the obstacle altogether. Entering the corner slowly, and picking up the speed leaving the turn, once you can see the road ahead is a good rule of thumb

  • Overshooting a corner. Motorcycle accidents can happen if you're speed is too fast going into a turn. Inevitably, you come to a point where you know you can't make it. How to avoid it? Slow down. Only ride as fast as your vision can interpret what the road ahead is going to do. Often times, your bike can handle a lot more than you can. Trust the bike and do your best to ride it out. Try to avoid hard braking or anything else that will cause a loss of traction or imbalance.

  • Car changes a lane into you. Remember, motorcycles can easily fit into blind spots and drivers looking for cars might not see motorcycles. Always be aware of blind spots and try to spend as little time as possible in them. As always, be aware of the situation. Be on the lookout when lane changes become more likely and watch for turn signals, wheels turning and wandering in the lane.

  • Car hits you from behind. You stop for whatever reason but the driver in the car following doesn't see you. How to avoid it? Be defensive. If possible, use other cars stopped at the intersection as a buffer by stopping between or in front of them. If no other cars are there, stop toward the side of the street and be ready to motor to safety if you see a car coming from behind that looks like it won't stop.

Remember, the more you learn about how to stay safe on your motorcycle, the lower the odds of being involved in a motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, sometimes an accident is unavoidable. In that case you need legal representation from an attorney who will aggressively advocate for you, and one who understands your case from the unique perspective of a motorcycle rider.

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Law Offices of Brian R. Whitehead, PC
1610 12th St SE
Salem, OR 97302

Phone: 503-967-8233
Fax: 503-914-1721
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