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Motorcycle accidents are far too common, and, unfortunately, they often lead to severe injuries. Those injuries can result in life-altering medical expenses. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you seek compensation, so you don’t get stuck paying those bills when the accident wasn’t your fault.

Let’s explore the dangers of motorcycle accidents, their common causes, and the injuries they often cause. Then, we’ll list some tips for protecting yourself on the road and explain why it’s always smart to consult a lawyer after a motorcycle accident.

If you’re in a motorcycle accident in Oregon, get help from Swanson Lathen Prestwich, PC (SLP). Our Oregon motorcycle attorneys have a record of successfully procuring compensation for our clients. Put our expertise to work for you as your motorcycle accident lawyer.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

America’s roads have generally gotten safer in the past few decades. Unfortunately, for motorcyclists, the trend has gone the other way.

According to the Motorcycle Crash Causation Study (MCCS) published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), motorcycle crash deaths nearly doubled between 1994 and 2015. During that same time period, non-motorcycle accident fatalities dropped by 34 percent.

A more recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that motorcycle fatalities continued to rise through 2016 and only declined slightly in 2017. It also reported that people on motorcycles were injured 27 times as much as people in passenger cars driving the same amount of miles on the road.

Oregon Motorcycle Accident Statistics

The Oregon-specific numbers from the NHTSA show that motorcyclists comprised 15 percent of all people killed in automobile crashes in Oregon from 2014 to 2018. A more recent tally by the Oregon Department of Transportation showed 80 fatalities among motorcyclists on Oregon’s roads in 2021. That’s more than one every week.

Clearly, motorcycle accidents present a real danger on Oregon’s roadways. We can all help reduce motorcycle accidents and the injuries they cause by understanding how they happen and taking steps to avoid them.

If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident in Oregon, get help from experienced motorcycle accident lawyers, like SLP. They’ll give you a free case evaluation to help you determine if you have a winnable claim for compensation.

Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

The MCCS study referenced earlier had great insights into some commonalities among motorcycle accidents. It documented the specific conditions surrounding 351 motorcycle accidents. While the study does not claim to have enough information to show direct causation, we can still identify trends in the data about conditions that tend to be present among the accidents observed.

Most Common Reason for All Motorcycle Crashes

The study categorized the observed crashes into categories. But, before we dive into the specifics, we first need to look at trends from the entire group of crashes.

Contrary to what many people think, crashes don’t just happen at night or during bad weather. Most crashes happened during the daylight, with clear weather and dry pavement. In fact, 91 percent of the crashes were on dry pavement. Most crashes also occurred when traffic was light to moderate.

About 30 percent of the crashes involved an observable traffic violation. Among those crashes, about 20 percent of the violations were by motorcyclists, while 33 percent were by operators of other vehicles.

The most common type of crash observed was during left turns. Intersections without traffic control proved particularly dangerous, accounting for more than 60 percent of the observed crashes.

The study saw many more multiple vehicle accidents than single motorcycle accidents, but the single-vehicle accidents had a higher fatality rate. That means motorcycle crashes often kill even when no other car is involved.

Multi-vehicle Crashes

Over 76 percent of the motorcycle crashes in the MCCS study were multiple-vehicle crashes.

Almost all multi-vehicle crashes started with a car and a motorcycle colliding, but a small percentage started from a vehicle or motorcycle hitting a roadside object.

Most multi-vehicle accidents occurred at intersections; still, nearly 22 percent occurred away from intersections. Many crashes stem from drivers or riders not having enough time to avoid a collision. Following distance and speed can both contribute to stopping and reaction time.

Poor visibility is a common factor contributing to multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes. Other drivers’ inadequate traffic scans were identified as contributing to 70 percent of multi-vehicle crashes. In 54 cases, the background interfered with the ability to see the motorcycle. Failing to see other hazards contributed to 60 percent of the crashes.

Unsafe actions were also a significant factor. They contributed to 63 percent of the crashes.

Surprisingly, the use of alcohol or drugs contributed to just three percent of the observed multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes.

A disproportionately high number of motorcycle crashes that involved a motorcycle passenger were multi-vehicle crashes. In this study, helmets prevented injury more effectively in multiple-vehicle crashes than in single-vehicle crashes.

Solo Crashes

Single-vehicle crashes can be among the most dangerous. In the MCCS study, a single-vehicle crash means that the motorcycle driver crashed with no other vehicle involved. While less than 24 percent of motorcycle crashes studied were single-vehicle crashes, these single-vehicle crashes saw more than their fair share of fatalities. 

Single-vehicle accidents don’t always happen where you might think. They tended to happen away from intersections on the wide lanes of undivided highways and when traffic was less dense. 

Single-vehicle accidents represented more than their fair share of accidents involving objects or obstacles to the right of the lane. The objects and obstacles include buildings, parked cars, loose gravel, fences, mailboxes, pavement elevation changes, and even speedbumps. Motorcyclists involved in single-vehicle accidents often crashed on the right shoulder or sidewalk after running into one of these hazards.

The absence of lane markings also contributed to a high percentage of single-vehicle crashes. Single-vehicle accidents tended to happen when it was dark outside. They also happened when the road would curve, especially to the left.

You can easily imagine the scenario when you put all these factors together. A lone biker is riding alone at night on a poorly marked road. The road unexpectedly curves left, and the motorcycle driver doesn’t react in time because of the poor markings. The motorcycle fails to turn with the road and drifts onto the right shoulder. There, it hits an object or obstacle, and the accident occurs.

When imagining this scenario, you can see how single-vehicle crashes often turn fatal.

Fatal Motorcycle Crashes

Just over 11 percent of the motorcycle crashes in the MCCS study resulted in at least one fatality. Single-vehicle crashes had a higher percentage of deaths than multi-vehicle accidents. 

Many of the conditions surrounding the two overlap, with single-vehicle crashes overrepresented among fatal crashes. However, they have a few key differences too.

As with single-vehicle crashes, fatal crashes tend to happen at night during times of low traffic density. They also tend to happen away from intersections but around left curves, especially with obstacles on the right.

Unlike the trends among single-vehicle crashes, fatal crashes tended to happen on eight-lane roads with narrower lanes. An unusually high number of fatal accidents also included issues of interference with a driver’s vision. Many fatal crashes also involved traffic violations. 

If you were injured in any of these types of crashes or a loved one was injured or killed in a motorcycle crash, contact motorcycle accident lawyers as soon as possible. A motorcycle crash lawyer can help you seek compensation for your pain and suffering.

Common Motorcycle Injuries

All the data above point to the danger motorcycle drivers and riders face on our roadways. When things go wrong, they often result in severe injuries and death. Some of the common injuries motorcycle attorneys see in their motorcycle crash cases include the following and more:

  • Broken Arms & Legs
  • Head & Neck Injuries
  • Internal Injuries
  • Muscle & Nerve Damage
  • Road Rash
  • Severe Bruising

Recovering from these severe injuries can be a long and arduous process. It can also come with a hefty price tag.

If someone else’s negligence caused your motorcycle accident, then a good motorcycle accident attorney, like SLP, can help you get compensation to reimburse you for those medical expenses.

Of course, it would be nice to avoid the injuries in the first place. While danger will always exist, we can take some steps to help stay safer on the roads.

How to Ride Safely: 7 Tips You Shouldn’t Forget

  1. Always wear your helmet and protective leathers or pads.
  2. Inspect your bike before riding.
  3. Ride with a 20-foot cushion.
  4. Remember, if you can see a driver’s eyes, they can’t see you.
  5. Obey all traffic laws.
  6. Stay sober, alert, and vigilant.
  7. Take a motorcycle riding course.

When To Call an Oregon Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Motorcycle accidents happen frequently in Oregon, but that doesn’t diminish their significance. The team at Swanson, Lathen, Prestwich, P.C. will be there to fight for your rights when you need them most. Don’t get stuck paying for life-altering injuries someone else caused. You’re entitled to compensation.
If you’ve been in a motorcycle crash, contact the experienced Oregon motorcycle accident attorneys at Swanson Lathen Prestwich, PC.