In the US, motorcycle accident fatalities have increased on average over
the past decade, while fatalities in passenger-vehicle accidents have
decreased. In 2012, the state of Florida ranked as the third highest state
in the US for motorcycle accident fatalities. The US Department of Transportation
and motorcycle safety experts feel that ramped-up, persistent efforts
are necessary to increase motorcycle awareness and teach riders proper
defensive riding tactics in order to make the roads across Florida and
the US safer for motorcycles.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
In general, riders who fully abstain from drinking while riding face much
better odds of staying safe and accident free. When motorcycle accidents
do happen, there are a few causes that are typically associated. Virtually
all collisions involving an automobile and a motorcycle occur because
the driver of the car claims he/she “never saw the motorcycle”.
Cars making Left-Hand Turns: This is a common scenario of crashes involving motorcycles and automobiles.
In an intersection, a motorcycle may be proceeding straight through and
a car facing the opposite direction does not see the oncoming rider and
turns left in front of him/her. In another example, a rider may attempt
to pass a driver on the left. Without use of a turn signal, the car may
suddenly turn left and not see the approaching rider.
Lane Splitting and Unsafe Passing: This occurs when a motorcycle passes another car in the same lane without
lawfully changing lanes. This also occurs when a rider proceeds in between
lanes of slow or stopped vehicles during a traffic jam. Most drivers don’t
anticipate that any other vehicle will be passing between the rows of
slowed or stopped traffic. Lane splitting is unlawful in Florida and a
rider who is injured in a crash connected with lane splitting may be ticketed
and determined to be at-fault for the accident.
High-Tail Crash (end-over): This is a violent type of crash that typically happens when a motorcycle’s
rear tire loses traction and begins to skid, causing the bike’s
rear to skid forward. The tire then suddenly regains traction, “grabs”
the pavement or riding surface, and violently jerks the bike back in line
as rear tire jumps back to its original position. However, the abrupt
shift caused by the sudden grip produces destabilizing forces which throws
the motorcycle off-balance and ejects the rider.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
- Wearing a helmet reduces a rider’s chances of death in an accident
by nearly 40%.
- Cars turning left in front of a motorcycle account for more than 42% of
all collisions between motorcycles and automobiles.
- Between 15-20% of all Florida traffic fatalities consist of motorcyclists
and their passengers, yet motorcycles only account for about 3.6% of Florida’s
- In roughly 25% of fatal motorcycle crashes, the rider crashes into a fixed
object such as a telephone pole or concrete bridge abutment.
- For every 100 motorcycle fatalities in Florida, 37 could be prevented by
- Nearly 60% of all motorcycle accidents occur at night, while nearly 50%
of all crashes occur on a weekend night (Friday-Saturday)
- More riders ages 25-34 were either seriously injured or killed in motorcycle
crashes than any other age group, followed by riders ages 45-54 simply
due to the proportionate amount of riders in that group overall.
- Per mile, a motorcycle rider has a mortality rate 30 times higher than
a driver in a car or truck.
- Florida has at least 630,000 registered motorcycles on its roads; observed
helmet use is nearly 49%.
Ride Smart Florida
NOLO Legal Encyclopedia