Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise

Edited by Admin
Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise

Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise


2020 marked one of the worst years in decades for motorcycle fatalities in Ontario: 42 motorcyclists were killed on OPP-patrolled roads. Most of these accidents involved a single vehicle, and nearly half involved drivers over the age of 50. Most bikers understand that the odds of being seriously injured or killed while operating a motorcycle are much greater than those of a car driver. In Canada, it’s estimated that motorcyclists are 15 times as likely to be involved in a crash as car drivers are, and 13.5 times more likely to be killed in a crash. Roughly 20% of car accidents involve injury or death, but more than 80% of motorcycle crashes do. And while only 3% of vehicles on the road in Canada are motorcycles, they account for 11% of deaths and 12% of serious injuries. Riding a bike is risky; risk is generally recognized to be part of the appeal. But there are some choices that magnify that risk, and Ontario Provincial Police have been clear about major contributing factors to motorcycle deaths in the province: excessive speed, alcohol and drug use, and visibility.


Major Factors in Motorcycle Deaths and Injuries


There are motorcycles on the market now that have more horsepower than most cars. The Dodge Tomahawk, for example, has a 20 valve, 8.3L, 10-cylinder engine that generates a horsepower of approximately 500. The Suzuki Hayabusa has a 16-cylinder engine that will go from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds. The Lightning LS-218 is an electric motorcycle that can hit speeds of 218 miles per hour. Bikes are more difficult to control when ridden at high speeds, and many motorcyclists have “too much bike.” Even the most experienced rider can be at risk when speeding; the slightest miscalculation can have disastrous results. With powerful models, you can even override your headlights, which means that you are going faster than you can see in dim or dark conditions. Speed can be deadly in a number of situations, including riding too fast for weather conditions, encountering unexpected road hazards such as gravel or seams in the road, and inexperienced bikers who go faster than their skills warrant. And of course, speed in combination with other risky behaviours magnifies the chances of being involved in a devastating accident.

Unfortunately, one of the other risk factors is alcohol and drug use by bikers. A significant percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents involve riders who are impaired; the CDC estimates that nearly 30% of motorcycle accidents involve drivers with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.08%. While common perceptions are that young people are more likely to drink and drive, it seems that an older demographic of bikers is more likely to use alcohol before operating their vehicles. US figures show that the highest percentage of alcohol-impaired riders killed is in the 40 – 49-year-old demographic. After only one drink, alcohol can affect the brain, causing deficits in judgement and reasoning, reaction time, and balance and coordination — abilities that are crucial to operating a motorcycle. Recreational drugs such as cannabis and cocaine also play a role in motorcycle accident deaths and injuries, sometimes in combination with alcohol or prescription drugs. In addition, bikers using drugs and/or alcohol are less likely to be wearing helmets or other protective gear.

Finally, a major contributing factor to motorcycle accidents is that drivers of other motor vehicles often fail to see bikers. Some common accident scenarios are:

  • A car or truck turns left at an intersection right in front of a biker, causing a “T-bone” collision.
  • A car or truck stops suddenly, and a biker rear-ends it.
  • A car or truck makes a lane change without seeing a biker in the lane, causing a side impact.
  • A car rear-ends a motorcycle.
  • A driver opens the door of a parked car in the path of a bike.

When you are on a motorcycle, it is crucial to remain as visible as possible to the drivers of other vehicles, who are often not expecting to see a motorcycle, or are unable to spot a bike in their mirrors.


Ride Safer


Bikers can act to reduce accidents by changing their behaviour: by slowing down, and by remaining sober while operating their motorcycles. They can wear helmets and appropriate safety gear at all times, including vests and other gear that helps to increase their visibility. A good motorcycle safety course can help you to learn more about protecting yourself while on the road and sharing the road safely with other vehicles. And of course, making sure your motorcycle is in good repair before going out is very important.

If you or someone in your family has been injured in a motorcycle accident, consult with a personal injury lawyer. These lawyers have experience with the insurance system, the medical system, and the legal system, and they can advise you about your options for compensation.