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The biggest killer of motorcyclists

6561 Views 76 Replies 32 Participants Last post by  hogcowboy
To summarize. The three deaths below in Lincoln Nebraska were caused by left turning drivers violating motorcyclist right of way. The 1981 Hurt report had cited this as the most common cause of the most common type of motorcycle accident, collision with another vehicle. It seems that little has changed.

Bottom line: We talk a lot about driving defensively, but if you don't have a plan for surviving potential left turning drivers at an intersection or a vehicle planning to turn left off the roadway into your path other than hoping for the best, you're running a terrible risk of becoming a statistic. This MUST be an active safety action by the cyclist, it CANNOT be left to chance.

My own solution has always been to

Slow down- Reduce speed to the point where you can survive an impact.
Try to make eye contact with the driver- then proceed with extreme caution at a speed that gives you time to respond or reduces the consequences of a crash.
Cover the Brakes- and have a plan

Curious to hear how others manage this high-risk situation.

Lincoln man charged with motor vehicle homicide for crash that killed motorcyclist | Crime and Courts |

Lincoln teen pleads no contest in crash that killed motorcycle rider | Crime and Courts |

Lincoln teen charged with motor vehicle homicide for crash with motorcyclist near UNL campus | Crime and Courts |

Reference: The Hurt Report, 1981
Article source: The Hurt Study Summary - webBikeWorld

  1. Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most usually a passenger automobile

  2. In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.

  3. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.
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Yup, I ride with assumptions that I'm invisible and that they're all out to get me! Never ever think they will give you right-of-way even if it's legally yours!

1. Approximately ¾ of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with another vehicle, most often a passenger automobile.

6. In multiple vehicle accidents, 2/3 of the accidents are caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle's right-of-way.

8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle's right-of-way, and often violating other traffic controls (i.e., changing lanes, running the light or stop sign, etc.).

16. The average speed of a motorcycle prior to an accident is 29.8 mph, 21.5 mph at the time of impact, and in only 1/1000 of cases is speed approximately 86 mph at the time of impact.
I recall seeing 1996 NHTSA stat showing 75% of all traffic fatalities occur at intersections. Which I assume involves pedestrians as well. And that 4% of fatalities occur on highways where fastest speeds occur. Cops need to be watching intersections more...
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I watch thousands, maybe tens of thousands of mototcycle crash videos on YouTube every year. I can think of only one where the motorcycle wasn't barreling through the intersection at high speed. And in that video the guy was going about 25mph, had a lazy delayed reaction to avoid the left turner, clipped the rear bumper, wobbled for a moment then went down at like 15mph. He was actually killed at 15mph because he wasn't wearing a helmet and bumped his head on the ground. I cant find the clip but its incredible to watch because its so low speed its like slow motion.

Obviously nothing is 100%, but I'd say that in 99% of left turn accidents the rider did not cut their speed for the intersection. They go through it at 10 or 15 over the limit like they have no fear.
You realize of course that's not representative of ALL moto crashes that occur right? That's 28-crashes per day. Do you know how many there are Word-wide total?
My brother got killed by turning left at intersection. Did absolutely nothing wrong, followed all traffic rules and speed-limits.

He got clobbered by red-light runner who was from out-of-state and wasn't familiar with that intersection and was looking at wrong traffic-light due to curve in road leading up to intersection. There was big truck in left-lane stopped on other side at light blocking view of both sides. So he didn't see red-light runner and they didn't see him until he was right in front of them.

Just because 10,000 idiots a year survived their stupidity and posted it on YouTube, doesn't mean the other 500,000/yr who got hit was just as lame.
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In my small town the surface street speed limit is 35 mph. In the nearest metro area (Phoenix) most all the surface streets are 45 mph. During high volume traffic (work) in my small town to keep up with traffic that is going to be 40 mph and in Phoenix it will be between 55-60 mph. Any of which, 35-60 mph, is enough it is unlikely a motorcyclist can avoid a left turner or red light runner that appears at the last second and any of these speeds are enough to present a lethal crash. Slowing below the limit is an option in light traffic, but during peak traffic not so much. I think is it safer to keep up with the flow of traffic and use positioning for added protection.
Exactly, as already have been shown many times, moving with flow of traffic is safest for motorcyclists. Many, many crashes have occurred by being rear-ended because they "didn't see you". In traffic or at stop-lights.

This variable is one of reasons CHP was proposing increasing national speed-limit way back in early '90s. Because there was too much difference in speed on freeway and it was dangerous. People naturally drive at comfortable speed. Freeways were designed and built in '50-60s for comfortable 72-mph speed-limit. With modern vehicles with better tyres, suspension and brakes, 80-mph is comfortable speed.

But then you had zealots who claimed ANY deviation from national 55mph speed-limit was criminal and eeevil! So you've got most people driving around 75-80mph on freeway, swerving around anchors going 55mph. Not to mention these folks were getting onto freeway and changing lanes @ 55mph! :eek:

Of course insurance companies were all in arms claiming mass-murder, genocide and mayhem on freeways!!! As it turned out, the month after national speed-limit was increased from 55 to 65mph, traffic accident rates dropped compared to same month year before! :)
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When I read the newspapers about these collisions, the driver always says, "I didn't see him".

So that's what you have to keep in mind as a rider. Folks simply don't see you.

Ride accordingly!!
yup, neon vests, I even paint my helmet neon colours. And installed flasher circuit so can flash all my winkers to stand out. Even so, about once a month, someone moves into my lane without seeing me. Of course I move out of way in plenty of time. I never want to be carried away on stretcher claiming, "But I had right-of-way damnit!".

More traffic laws won't change anything. I think there needs to be more rigorous drivers training to get licence, add motorcycle awareness to cirriculum and higher passing standards for everyone. And perhaps tiered licensing for motobikes like in many other countries.
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I don't necessarily slow down at ALL intersections, but do look both both ways. If it's tight intersection with bushes or buildings obscuring view, I'll slow down bit so I can check both sides far enough down to see anything that might be coming down during time I'm crossing intersection.
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Like with cagers, there appears to be more idiots on bikes now than ever.
When I started, only weird crazy fringe outlying people rode bikes.
They tended to be more focused and skilled.

Nowadays, so many newbies do it because it's fashionable and looks cool.
Take MSF class, buy brand-new litre-bike and try to do wheelies.
Next thing you know, cars driven by other idiot pulls out of driveway or turns left in front of them SPLAT!!!!

I don't think electronic nannies are solution to idiocy....
Yeah, I'm firm believer in day-time headlight modulators. Really stands out in traffic now that lots of cars have day-time running lights.
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