How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Types of Motorcycle Crashes

Due to increased danger and less protection, as riders, we are held to a higher level of responsibility. Below is a list of the 10 most common causes of motorcycle crashes and how to avoid them. 

1. Left turn accidents

When a car turns left, in front of an approaching rider, because, the driver did not see the rider, due to inattention or did not accurately estimate the rider’s speed, a deadly collision could be in the immediate future. 

How to avoid the crash: Some things for the rider to look for, from the approaching vehicle, to avoid this type of wreck: a left blinker, waiting in the left turn lane, or a gap in traffic (as you approach the potential left turn). One other really important observation to make is what is going on with the wheels, of the vehicle; they will give you the first clue of movement. As soon as you are aware of this danger, put your hand over your brake and be prepared to take lifesaving, evasive action.

2. Loose gravel in a blind corner

Loose gravel is a danger to be on the lookout for in all riding situations, but especially in residential neighborhoods, rural areas, and construction zones. Bike crashes in gravel causes more damage to your bike and also more severe road rash. If you are not wearing a helmet or protective eye gear, these loose rocks can cause serious damages to your eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and head.

How to avoid the crash: Best case scenario…don’t hit the gravel. You can do this by riding at a safe pace, that allows you time to react and avoid the danger. As you approach a blind corner, you want to apply the skill of slow in and fast out. Come into the corner wide, to improve your area of vision.

3. Entered corner too fast

These types of crashes typically occur when the rider just is not paying attention, at the level required. Road signs are a great way to give riders notice of approaching tight curves. This is also an issue for novice riders, who see signs, but underestimate that tightness of the curves or just have not developed the skills necessary to navigate these types of curves.

How to avoid the crash: Keep your eyes open and be on the lookout for warnings, like road signs. Ride at a speed that you know you can safely control your bike. If you missed the sign (here’s your sign… ha ha), you can also look for overhead signals, like power lines or phone lines, to see upcoming changes in the shape of the road. If you have missed all of the signs and clues and you just come up on the corner too fast, the most common recommendation is to just trust your bike and ride it out; try to minimize the lean of your bike; look where you want to be (safely through the curve), not where you think you will end up (on the ground).

4. Improper lane change by another driver

This type of crash happens, most often, due to driver inattention or motorcycle “invisibility”, but can be avoided by rider attention and preparedness. 

How to avoid the crash: Know where blind spots are and do your best to avoid them. Also, be aware of changes in traffic speed, blinkers, wheels turning, drivers looking in their side and rear-view mirrors; these are all indications of lane changes, that riders should ALWAYS look for and be prepared to respond to safely.

5. Rear end crash

You are riding down the road, a dog runs out in front of you, you safely stop and avoid the dog, but the driver behind you, who is watching the dog, not you, slams in to you and your bike. Is there anyway this could be avoided? Sometimes, yes.

How to avoid the crash: If possible, change lanes, as opposed to stopping. If you cannot change lanes, stop to the far right or far left of the lane in which you are riding. If possible, tap your brake, repeatedly, to flash your brake lights and help the driver recognize that you are stopping and give them more time to react to your stop.

6. Unsafe riding companions

One of the nice things about riding is that it is fun to do alone, but also fun to do in a group! It is not fun to ride in a group, when you are surrounded by unsafe riders, who make poor choices and do not apply the necessary precautions, when on the road.

How to avoid the crash: Choose safer riding companions! Have a little group chat, before you take off on the ride, to remind everyone of safe riding habits, especially a staggered riding formation, which increases visibility for riders and drivers and also allows for more reaction time.

7. Locked up brakes

Something comes in front of your bike, you slam on that hand brake, you get thrown off and your bike goes flipping down the road.

How to avoid the crash: Make sure you know how to properly use all stopping devices on your How to safely reduce your braking speed is covered in most motorcycle safety courses. Another option would be to get a bike with an anti-lock braking system.

8. Car door opened in biker’s lane of travel

Sadly, drivers are not aware of the significant danger that an open door poses to a driver.

How to avoid the crash: Be aware and on the lookout for opening doors. If you are on a residential street, drive as far away from parked cars, as safely possible. If you see people in the cars, be prepared to slow, and stop. If you are on a highway, and traffic is stopped, NEVER ride between 2 lanes of stopped traffic. If there is no way to avoid the door, then brake as hard as possible, the decreased speed will decrease the effect of the impact.

9. Slippery roadway

Rain, oil, mud, horse poop…there are so many substances that can end up on the road and make for a nasty “spill”, if a rider is not aware and prepared.

How to avoid the crash: Make sure you have good tires on your bike; good traction can save your life. If you hit something on the road, slow down as smoothly as possible, using every device on your bike to navigate through the mess. Some of the messes are basically invisible, so look for “rainbows” on the road, to help identify the invisible messes.

10. Drinking and Driving

Many studies, over the past decade, account for alcohol involvement in at least 50 percent of motorcycle crashes. 

How to avoid the crash: Easy…don’t drink and drive! If you feel the need to ride your bike somewhere that you plan to drink, then plan an alternate option for transportation home, like Uber, or some other type of ride share, and make sure you are comfortable to leave your bike where you are going.

Since bikers are afforded less protection, by our choice of transportation, and less visibility, because a bike is just smaller than a car, we have to be alert and aware of all potential dangers. We must develop a sixth “biker” sense and learn how to anticipate potentially dangerous situations and be prepared with several strategies to respond to and protect ourselves in those dangerous situations.

Stay safe!