Risk Factors Associated With Severe Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Last updated Thursday, October 6th, 2022

Risk Factors Associated With Severe Motorcycle Accident Injuries

According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2015 there were a total of 88,000 motorcycle accident-related injuries. This is particularly troublesome because motorcycle riders are much more vulnerable to severe injuries than other drivers. That means that when they’re in an accident, the risk factors are such that they may suffer severe or possibly even fatal injuries.

The same amazing sense of freedom that motorcycle riders love to experience when riding also leaves them more exposed. Motorcycles also have a much lower profile than most other vehicles on the road, as well as lower stability. This makes them more susceptible to accidents. These risk factors should be something that all riders are intimately familiar with because it will give them a better chance of avoiding them.

The more risk factors that a rider is exposed to, the greater the chance of an accident which means the greater the chance of severe injuries. By taking the time to learn about and understand how risk factors impact safety, motorcycle riders can decrease the chances that they’ll be in a serious accident.

Following are some of the major risk factors that all riders should be aware of so they can help to avoid them and avoid injuries that could occur during an accident.

Failing To Wear Protective Gear

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing helmets when riding reduces the risk of death if you’re in an accident by 42%. The risk of a head injury drops by 62%. The point here is simple, wear a helmet. There’s no excuse for not wearing a helmet but every day, motorcycle riders climb on their bikes and fail to wear one.

When you’re looking at the different risk factors, not wearing a helmet is right at the top of the list. Without a helmet, you’re practically begging for a head injury. Can you see the future? No? Well, then you need to prepare yourself accordingly and assume that every time you get on your bike, it could be the day when you end up in an accident.

What other types of protective gear should you wear when you ride? You should also wear a jacket, riding pads, knee pads, and gloves. If you aren’t wearing this type of protective gear, you could end up with serious injuries including road rash.

Serious injuries suffered in an accident can mean death, permanent disability, or at the very least, long-term medical care.

Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that failing to wear protective gear when riding increases the risk of sustaining serious injuries. While you can never eliminate the risk of an accident, or the risk of injuries, proper protective gear will increase your odds of being able to walk away from an accident with only minor injuries.

A Lack Of Visibility

The NHTSA says that 38% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2011 were a result of limited rider visibility. Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating, but it’s also dangerous and far more so if other drivers can’t see you on the road.

Why is it so hard for many motorists to see motorcycles? For one thing, they’re smaller than other vehicles. Being smaller makes motorcycles less visible and is one of the main risk factors for riders.

What is a limited visibility accident? It’s an accident involving a car and a motorcycle when the driver of the car didn’t have a clear vision of the motorcycle. As a result of limited visibility, the driver of the car ends up hitting the motorcycle rider.

Whenever a car driver doesn’t see a motorcycle and strikes them, the potential for serious injuries is very high. Without seeing an accident coming, the driver of a car doesn’t know to try to slow down. That means that they’ll hit a rider at full speed which increases the likelihood of serious or even fatal injuries.

Because of the risks associated with limited visibility accidents, all riders should do everything that they can to make themselves as visible as possible.

What can a rider do to make himself more visible? How about wearing a bright jacket when riding? Or, ensuring that you have quality headlights? These are simple steps you can take and these simple steps can save your life.

Operating Your Motorcycle When You’re Under The Influence Of Drugs

Riding your motorcycle when you’re under the influence of drugs, especially alcohol, is a very bad idea. Who would have thought that? This is just common sense! Doing anything when you’re drunk, that requires coordination and quick reactions, is a bad idea.

When you’re on a motorcycle you need to be able to have great coordination and reaction time. The point here is a simple one. Don’t drink or do drugs and ride. Ever.

Are some accidents on the road caused by impaired drivers? Yes. Is there anything you can do about their behavior? No. You can only control your own behavior. Did you know that according to the NHTSA, 20% of motorcyclists who are involved in fatal accidents have a blood alcohol level that is higher than the legal limit?

When you’re not sober, maintaining situational awareness is virtually impossible. That’s what makes an accident far more likely. When riding under the influence, your coordination, balance, and judgment are all negatively affected.

Riding At A High Rate Of Speed

Riding at a high rate of speed dramatically increases the chances of a serious accident. It’s one of the main risk factors for having an accident. Is it exhilarating to ride at high speeds? You bet. Is it dangerous? Absolutely. Riding faster makes it harder to react to dangers and if you do hit something, moving faster makes you hit harder.

Additionally, if you ride really fast and are under the influence of alcohol, the risk more than doubles. It goes up exponentially. The bottom line here is simple. Riding fast might be fun but it’s also incredibly dangerous. So, always ride at a safe speed and obey all posted speed limits.

Riding In Bad Weather

Riding in bad weather is a major risk factor that often leads to serious accidents. Serious accidents mean serious injuries or worse for riders. What kind of bad weather should you avoid riding whenever possible? Anytime there’s rain, strong winds, or any other type of storm, riding your motorcycle is more hazardous than normal.

What might you encounter if you ride during bad weather? You could end up running over debris on the road or losing control when you hit a patch of water or ice. In either case, the risk of a serious accident goes up dramatically.

Reasons Why Visibility Is Important


For a motorcyclist, visibility is their first and best line of defense in preventing accidents. Motorcyclists are far more exposed and vulnerable when riding than other motorists are, which is why avoiding accidents is so important for them.

While protective gear should always be worn and can help to reduce the severity of some injuries in the event of an accident, avoiding the accident altogether should still be the goal of every motorcycle rider.

Defensive riding and situational awareness can help motorcyclists to avoid many accidents but these skills will only go so far. If another driver fails to see a motorcycle on the road, all of the situational awareness and defensive riding in the world may not be enough to avoid an accident.

When Other Drivers Can’t See You The Odds Of An Accident Increase Dramatically

For a driver, do you know what kind of motorcycle they’re most likely to hit? The one that they don’t see. Most drivers aren’t reckless on purpose. They try to avoid accidents but when they don’t see a motorcyclist, there’s not much they can do to avoid hitting them.

Why are motorcycles so much harder to see on the road? The main reason is their smaller profile. They are only a fraction of the size of a regular car and as a result, they’re often not seen until it’s too late. If you asked a driver who hit a motorcyclist, chances are pretty good that they’ll tell you they never even saw them.

Distracted Drivers Are The Norm

When people are driving, they are often distracted. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also the truth. Maybe they have children in the backseat who are fighting. Or, they’re looking down for a moment to change the radio. Maybe they’re even making the huge mistake of trying to use their phone while they’re driving.

No matter what the reasons might be, if a driver is distracted on the road they’re much more likely to be in an accident. It’s scary to think about, but the fact is that every day that you get on your bike, there are distracted drivers all around you.

How does being more visible by wearing bright colors when you’re riding help here? It helps because bright colors are more likely to be caught by the peripheral vision of other drivers. They’re more likely to catch a glimpse of something bright orange than they are to catch a glimpse of something darker.

This is especially true at night. The point here is that wearing bright colors can help you to help other drivers notice you when they might otherwise be too distracted to do so.

You Should Always Ride With Your Lights On At Night Or During Storms

When thinking about ways to increase your visibility on the road, one way that you should already be employing is turning on your lights in any conditions where there is insufficient light to see things clearly at a distance.

Early mornings, sunsets, at night, and during storms, all qualify as these types of situations. The lights on your motorcycle are there to help you see the road and other drivers, but they’re also there to help you to be seen by other drivers.

Wearing Bright Clothing And Protective Equipment Will Greatly Increase Your Visibility On The Road

What else can you do to increase your visibility when you’re riding? The great news is that you can make yourself more visible to other drivers and it’s very simple to do. All you have to do is to wear bright clothing and protective gear when you’re on your bike. That’s it. You have to buy protective gear and clothing anyway, right? So, why shouldn’t you buy gear and equipment that is bright and noticeable?

Wearing Bright Clothing Is A Way To Be Proactive About Your Safety When Riding

Do you know what the difference is between being proactive and reactive? Proactive people take steps ahead of time to improve their situation or prevent accidents. Part of being a safe motorcyclist is being proactive by wearing bright-colored clothing when riding.

Doing this increases your visibility and reduces the chances of you being in an accident. Being reactive involves wearing protective gear and taking evasive action when you face a dangerous situation.

Being reactive should be a secondary line of defense for you. It should be something you rely on only in an emergency. Being proactive by wearing bright clothing is a much better approach since it can help you to avoid being in an accident in the first place.

Increasing Your Visibility With Bright Clothing Doesn’t Mean That You Don’t Have To Wear Protective Equipment

Wearing bright clothing can help you to avoid many accidents, but unfortunately, it can’t prevent all accidents. Accidents happen. Even when we’re as prepared as possible and do everything that we can to avoid them. Wearing bright clothing when riding is a very good idea and it may end up helping you to avoid any accidents. But it doesn’t guarantee your safety on the road.

Because there’s always a chance of an accident every time you get on your bike, you must prepare as if you’re going to get into an accident. Wear bright clothing, but also wear protective equipment that can help to protect you in the event of an accident.

This combination of being proactive and reactive is the best way to ensure that you’re as safe as possible when riding.

Making Yourself As Visible As Possible When Riding Makes The Roads Safer For Everyone

Riding a motorcycle is a lot of fun and it’s also much more dangerous than driving a regular car. If you asked any motorcyclist about this though, they’d probably tell you that the exhilaration they feel when riding makes any risks worth it.

But, just because riding a motorcycle can be risky doesn’t justify being reckless. Doing simple things like keeping your lights on when necessary and wearing bright clothing that increases your visibility, can help you to prevent accidents.

Important Tips To Help You Ride Safely On Wet Roads

wet roads

Wet roads represent one of the most common road hazards that motorcycle riders face and one of the most dangerous as well. Whether it’s due to recent rain or a street cleaner, when the streets are wet they’re hazardous.

As a motorcycle rider, you’re far more exposed on the street than other drivers are. If you get into an accident, the chances of you suffering serious or even life-threatening injuries are significant. This is why safety should be a top priority for all riders.

Anytime you’re riding when conditions are especially hazardous, extra caution needs to be taken. Remember, nobody ever gets onto their motorcycle planning to get into an accident. So you have to be proactive. Take steps to reduce your chances of an accident.

You also need to be prepared in the event of an accident by wearing protective gear. Riding on wet and slippery roads is hazardous, but the following tips can help to guide you so you can make the experience as safe as possible.

If You Can Avoid Riding On Wet Roads Then You Should

This should go without saying, but if you can avoid riding when the roads are wet you should. Sometimes you have no choice. If a motorcycle is your only vehicle, you can’t just sit around and wait for the weather to be cooperative when you have things to do.

But if you have a car in addition to a motorcycle, driving your car during a storm is much safer. If you can put things off until the weather clears up, do so. The bottom line is, that anytime you can put off riding when the roads are wet, you should.

When Riding On Wet Roads, Slowing Down Reduces The Risk Of An Accident

Riding on wet roads is dangerous. It’s much more dangerous when you’re driving fast. It’s very simple, going faster means that in the event of an accident you’re going to hit something harder. When you hit something harder the chances of a serious or fatal injury go up dramatically.

On top of that, going faster gives you less time to react to obstacles which also increases your chance of an accident. So, do yourself a favor when riding when the roads are slick, slow down.

During Wet Conditions Recognize That Your Motorcycle Won't Stop As Quickly As It Would In Normal Conditions

One of the biggest issues you’ll encounter if you drive when the roads are wet is the reduced ability to stop your motorcycle quickly. Motorcycles are quick and agile, which is what makes them so much more fun to ride. But when weather conditions are not favorable, you won’t be able to stop as quickly.

What does that mean? It means that you need to give yourself more distance between yourself and the car in front of you. It also means that you need to plan to start slowing down for turns earlier than you normally would.

Slowing down and giving yourself more time to react when the roads are slick can mean the difference between being safe and being in an accident.

Riding With Your Lights On During A Storm Makes You More Visible To Other Drivers

Motorcycles are smaller than other cars, which makes them less visible on the road. During a storm when visibility is reduced, motorcycles are particularly vulnerable since they’ll be even harder to see.

When another driver can’t see you riding, the chances of them hitting you go way up. So, during a storm, ride with your lights on. Even if it’s the middle of the day, a storm reduces visibility, so you need to have your lights on.

Wear Bright Clothing

Wearing bright clothing during a storm is another effective way you can improve your visibility on the road. When other drivers can’t see you, they won’t know to avoid you. The importance of being visible on the road simply cannot be overstated.

This is especially true during bad weather when visibility is reduced. Something as simple as wearing a brightly colored jacket can mean all the difference between life and death.

Wear Protective Gear

When should you wear protective gear when you’re riding your motorcycle? Every time you get on it. Period. If you ride without protective gear, your chances of suffering serious or fatal injuries go up dramatically.

However, when you’re riding and the roads are wet, the importance of wearing protective gear is even greater. With a greater chance of an accident, happening needs to come greater preparation on your part in case one does.

How many motorcycle riders get onto their bikes and think that today will be the day that they suffer a serious accident? Probably none. Nobody wants to be in an accident but they happen. Even if you do everything in your power to avoid being in an accident, it still may not be enough.

Accidents happen, so all you can do is try to avoid them and do everything you can to protect yourself if one does happen to you.

Start by wearing a helmet. Your head is the most vulnerable part of your body in an accident and if you don’t have a helmet you could end up with serious brain injuries. If this happens and you survive, you may not come out of it as the same person you were before.

Brain damage is every rider’s worst nightmare, so protect your brain with a helmet. Wear a protective jacket that will shield you from road rash and while you’re at it, pick out a bright one that’s easily seen. Finally, wear pants and gloves designed for riders, so if you fall off your bike you’ll have as much protection as possible.

Avoid Oil Slicks On The Road

When riding on wet roads during a storm, the most dangerous time to do so is immediately after the storm starts. Water and oil don’t mix and there are oil deposits on every road that you ride on.

When it rains, those oil deposits become oil slicks. You shouldn’t have to be told that an oil slick is dangerous. If you hit an oil slick on your motorcycle, chances are that you’re going down. So, do yourself a favor, if it’s just started storming, try to wait a few minutes before you get on your bike.

Final Thoughts 

When you ride a motorcycle, your chances of sustaining serious injuries in the event of an accident are much higher than they are for other motorists. Because of this, all riders should exercise great caution whenever they’re on the road.

While some accidents are not preventable, many are, and those are the ones you need to avoid. You also need to always wear your protective gear and pay attention to the other risk factors, so you can ride more safely.