How to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident: 6 Tips

Maly Ohrenschall

Written By

Maly Ohrenschall

VP of Customer Experience

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Published On

February 10, 2023

Published On

February 10, 2023

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Riding a motorcycle can be a thrilling and exhilarating experience. Yet, it doesn’t come without risk, especially any time you channel your inner Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

According to the National Safety Council:1 “Although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities, 18% of all occupant fatalities, and 4% of all occupant injuries in 2020.”

Knowing the risks involved, you may wonder how to avoid motorcycle accidents.

Although you can’t control every road safety factor, there are actionable steps you can take to make your commute safer. So, how do most motorcycle accidents happen? Discover more on motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them.

Tip #1: Practice Before You Cruise

If you just recently purchased a motorcycle, you may be itching to get the hog out on the road.

Before you do that, take the time to practice handling the vehicle. Riding is a skill like any other. And properly maneuvering a bike—especially a powerful one—isn’t easy. These machines can be touchy. You need to build up muscle memory via repetition.

Over time, you will accrue the instincts that could save your life, helping you make a split-second decision to veer, break, or accelerate away from an accident.

Then, when you are ready for the roadways, practice safe driving behavior by not speeding.

Tip #2: Obtain Proper Licenses and Certifications

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 33% of motorcycle operators killed in a crash are either not licensed or improperly licensed.2 This indicates that a significant number of riders on the road operate motorcycles without the necessary training and qualifications. Naturally, this has a direct impact on the safety of the riders and other drivers sharing the roadways.

Having the right licenses won’t necessarily prevent a fatal accident, but it will ensure that you at least have the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary to safely operate the bike. Plus, it protects you from legal liability in the event of an accident.

Tip #3: Be Careful At Intersections

Intersections are a particularly lethal road hazard for motorcyclists, seeing as they’re a major hot spot for vehicle accidents. Since motorcycles lack the protection that cars afford riders, even a slower motorcycle crash can result in serious injuries.

When it comes to intersections, left-hand turns made by oncoming traffic are the most significant threat to motorcyclists. In fact, approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents occur because a driver took a left directly in front of the motorcyclist's path.3

Often, the driver either doesn’t see the smaller motorcycle or fails to properly judge its speed. And so, they pull out in front of them.

Knowing this, be vigilant at intersections, check the speed limit, slow down, and avoid passing a vehicle or switching lanes.  

Tip #4: Watch Out for Drivers on the Highways

Many motorcycle accidents on highways and freeways are caused by a driver not seeing the motorcycle rider. Typically, this occurs in one of two ways: 

  • Lane splitting – In California, motorcyclists may legally ride between lanes of vehicles that are either stopped or moving at slower speeds. As a motorcycle rider, If you do any lane splitting, keep these tips in mind:
    - Don’t drive too much above the current traffic speeds
    - Stick to the left lane
    - Don’t drive in the shoulder
    - Consider the road and weather conditions
  • Lane shifting – Similarly, a vehicle may try to merge into a lane without realizing that a motorcycle is in their blind spot. Knowing that, you must remain aware of your surroundings and remember these tips:
    - Pay attention to the driver’s turn signals, head movement, and vehicle drift
    - Position yourself so that you’re not in the vehicle’s blindspot
    - The blindspot is bigger for larger vehicles
    - Always be ready to make a sudden maneuver

Tip #5: Stay Sober

Unfortunately, 43% of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve alcohol.4

This should go without saying, but don’t ever drink and drive. Doing so is not only illegal, but it also greatly increases the chances that the ride will end poorly and prematurely since drugs and alcohol can impact your reflexes, judgment, and driving behavior.

So, if you do have a drink, order a cab with a sober driver. That’s the safest way to protect yourself and others on the road.

Tip #6: Avoid Target Fixation

Drivers, especially inexperienced drivers, encounter a common phenomenon known as target fixation.

In other words, they see and fixate on a specific object or obstacle in the road—like a pothole or vehicle parked on the side of the highway—and then are unable to react or steer away from it, resulting in a motor vehicle accident.

This occurs because of a problem with human vision, where the eye is naturally drawn to movement. So, when we see something we wish to avoid, our eyes tend to latch onto that object, which can cause a driver to unintentionally steer towards it.

To prevent motorcycle accidents like these, focus on where you want to go, rather than what you want to avoid. Keep your eyes moving, look for your proper path, and then smoothly steer the bike to that point.

Find Your Legal & Support Team When Accidents Strike 

Even if you implement these safety precautions for how to avoid motorcycle accidents, a crash could still occur. If it does, you can be ready.

So, if you’re asking questions such as: how long does a motorcycle accident lawsuit take or what is the average payout for a motorcycle accident, we can help. If you've been involved in an accident and are seeking legal support and representation, head over to Mighty's Motorcycle Accident Attorney Directory to find a trusted attorney in your area today.

  1. NSC. Motorcycle Injury Facts.
  2. NHTSA. Motorcycles.
  3. NHTSA. The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Crash.
  4. NHTSA. The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Crash.
Maly Ohrenschall

Written By

Maly Ohrenschall

VP of Customer Experience

About the author

Maly is a seasoned professional with over 15 years of experience in the insurance sector, specializing in multi-line claims and customer service for personal injury cases. As the leader of Mighty’s Client Experience team, she leverages her extensive background to ensure clients involved in auto accidents receive the highest level of care and support. Maly’s expertise plays a crucial role in delivering exceptional service and fostering long-lasting client relationships.

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