sneaker on the pedal of a motorcyle

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?

Understanding How Motorcycle Accidents Happen

Now that the summer season is in full swing, more motorcyclists are taking to the road for a fun and carefree ride. The pleasure of riding can surely bring you much joy. Still, unfortunately, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to being involved in a motorcycle crash — and the result can be a severe injury — or worse, death. Here are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents and how riders can be proactive in their safety on the road.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Since motorcycles are smaller in size, motorcyclists are more prone to being involved in an accident than other motorists. Motorcyclists are also more at risk of being severely injured in a crash because they lack the protection of a metal encasing, airbags, or seatbelts. Understanding how motorcycle accidents happen can help riders avoid a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle accidents can occur in the following ways:

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles are far too frequent and can be caused by:

  • Distracted drivers (texting, talking on the phone, eating)
  • Drowsy or fatigued drivers
  • Drivers trying to beat a red light
  • Drivers speeding/racing
  • Drivers attempting to pass on a two-lane road

Vehicles Making Left-Hand Turns

While vehicles making left-hand turns is also a common accident that happens between two cars, this type of accident is one of the top dangers that motorcyclists face on the road. This is because motorcycles are smaller in size, making riders less visible to a turning driver. A rider can be hit by a car as they take their motorcycle straight through an intersection or passing a car when making a left-hand turn.


Lane splitting is a dangerous road maneuver that can cause a rider to sustain devastating injuries. Lane-splitting involves riding a motorcycle between two lanes in slow-moving or stopped traffic.

Many riders will argue that lane-splitting is safe if they ride defensively. However, the truth is that it’s dangerous and an illegal traffic violation in Tennessee state. The following factors can increase a rider’s risk of getting into an accident when lane-splitting:

  • Inexperienced riders
  • Limited lane space between motorcycles and cars
  • Unpredicted lane changes and turns by other motorists
  • Driver blind spots

Riding While Impaired

It’s well-established that motorcycle riders already have many safety disadvantages on the road — and riding after drug or alcohol use can only make matters worse. Riding while impaired slows down your reaction time, which in turn increases the chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident. Riding sober saves lives.

Collisions with Fixed Objects

Since an encasing does not protect motorcycle riders, colliding with a fixed object on the road can cause a severe injury. Whether a telephone pole or rail guard, riders can be thrown far and hard and sustain life-threatening injuries.


Poor road conditions are dangerous to motorcycle riders, and potholes are among the top problems for riders. While potholes can damage the bike, hitting a pothole unexpectedly while going at a high speed can cause a rider to lose control, crash, and sustain a severe injury.

Slick Road Conditions

Rain, oil, or leaves can leave roads slick and slippery and is more dangerous to motorcycle riders than motorists. Two wheels and the lighter weight of a motorcycle can cause the bike to slide easier on slick roads. Riders making turns on slippery roads are also a danger.

Top Injuries Caused by Motorcycle Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) motorcycles are on the top of the list of all traffic fatalities. However, riders who survive a motorcycle crash often sustain severe, life-threatening injuries such as the following:

Catastrophic Injuries

A catastrophic injury can be defined as an injury that can drastically change or alter your life. A catastrophic injury is undoubtedly devastating, and can still happen even if a motorcyclist is riding defensively and wearing a helmet and protective gear. The following are the most common types of catastrophic injuries that motorcyclists sustain:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can cause:
    • Memory loss
    • Confusion, disorientation
    • headaches/dizziness
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Trouble with speech
    • Emotional behavior
    • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Spinal cord injuries can cause:
    • Loss of movement
    • Loss of sensation, such as the inability to feel heat or cold
    • Loss of bladder or bowel control
    • Spasms
    • Sexual dysfunction including infertility
    • Intense pain or stinging sensations caused by damage to the spinal cord nerve fibers
    • Difficulty breathing or coughing to clear secretions from the lungs
    • Paralysis
  • Broken Bones/Fractures
    • Motorcyclists can sustain broken bones or fractures to the:
    • Forearm
    • Shinbone
    • Femur (thighbone)
    • Pelvis
  • Road Rash
    Also known as friction burn, road rash is a painful injury and happens when the skin comes into contact with the pavement and causes the skin to scrape off. The skin may also have pebbles, dirt, and other road debris embedded. The removal of these objects requires medical treatment for thorough removal to avoid infections.

How Motorcyclists Can Stay Safe

The following are some motorcycle safety tips as recommended by the National Safety Council:

  • Always wear a helmet and protective gear
  • Ensure your bike is the proper fit for you
  • Ensure your bike has anti-lock brakes
  • Sign up for a motorcycle safety course
  • Refrain from drinking and riding
  • Ride defensively
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing
  • Use a face shield for better visibility
  • Avoid speeding
  • Keep your headlights on at all times

Involved in a Motorcycle Accident? We can help.

Our Memphis motorcycle accident lawyers will go up against the toughest of insurance companies to get you the maximum compensation that you deserve. We’ll focus on your best interests every step of the way because you deserve dedicated legal counsel who understands your needs. From recovering medical costs, lost income, property damage, and more—we’ll be your trusted partner throughout the process.

We are here for you. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC today at (901) 526-2126.