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Top Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists account for 14% of crash fatalities in 2020. In total, 5,579 motorcyclists were killed in 2020, which is the highest motorcyclist fatality number since 1975. From 2019 to 2020, the fatality rate increased by 11%. The data also suggests that approximately 82,585 motorcyclists were injured in accidents, which is a two percent decrease from 2019.

Below, we will discuss what causes motorcycle accidents. In understanding what can cause motorcycle accidents, riders and others on the road can practice safe driving techniques and take steps to avoid being involved in a dangerous motorcycle crash.

Alcohol & Drug Use

Alcohol and drug use are among the major causes of motorcycle accidents. 1,436 of the motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were driving while under the influence. If others on the road are impaired, they can also cause a fatal or serious crash. Alcohol and drugs can negatively affect a rider’s or driver’s brain by impairing their:

  • Judgement and reasoning
  • Balance and coordination
  • Emotions
  • Social behavior
  • Memory


If a rider or driver on the road is speeding, even by just five miles over the legal limit, they risk being involved in an accident. Speeding inhibits your ability to stop in a timely manner, control your vehicle or steering ability, and increases your risk of a rollover accident.


If a motorcyclist is inexperienced or not properly licensed, they increase their risk of being involved in an accident. New riders should take time to acclimate themselves to riding on challenging roads and spend a substantial amount of time training before they even ride on any roads. A shocking number of motorcycle accidents also involve riders who do not even have a proper license (i.e. 36% of fatal crashes).

Drowsiness & Other Forms of Impairment

Drowsiness can make motorcyclists feel like they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a rider is low on sleep, they may be physically or emotionally impacted, which can affect their riding. If you are tired, you should pull over to rest and regain your focus.

Mechanical Issues

Motorcyclists should perform a motorcycle safety check before riding and schedule routine maintenance on their bikes. If a motorcycle part is old or poorly maintained, then you risk experiencing a mechanical problem while on the road, which can lead to a crash.

Inclement Weather

Heavy rainstorms, hail, or dangerous weather conditions can cause a motorcycle accident. Because your vision may be impaired and the roads can become more dangerous, you should pull over to wait out a storm if you encounter bad weather. Before heading out, you should also take time to check the weather along your route.

Roadway Conditions

Unsafe or overlooked roadway conditions can cause a driver or rider to suffer injuries in an accident if they spin out, lose control, or have a mechanical issue (caused by the road conditions). Hazardous roadway conditions can include:

  • Dangerous railroad tracks or bridge joints
  • Debris
  • Hidden driveways or four-way roads
  • Insufficient shoulder
  • Lack of dividers, guardrails, or medians
  • Potholes
  • Uneven, grooved, or resurfaced pavement
  • Unkempt vegetation
  • Unmarked or faded lanes

Left-Hand Turns

T-Bone accidents are often caused by left-turn crashes. When riders or drivers make left-hand turns, they may not properly look ahead to the other road or adequately gauge whether they should turn because of oncoming traffic.

Distracted Driving/Riding

Motorcyclists, riders, pedestrians, and others on the road can cause an accident if they are distracted. Using your phone, eating, grooming, or engaging in other activities while riding, driving, walking, etc. can have fatal consequences.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Sometimes cars do not “check for motorcycles.” Failing to check their blind spots, use their signals, or making a lane change suddenly can lead to a dangerous accident.


If a motorcyclist rides between lanes of traffic, they are lane-splitting, which is a dangerous practice. In addition to being illegal, a rider risks being hit by a vehicle trying to change lanes or smooshed between two vehicles if the space between the cars changes.

Get Legal Help

After being involved in a motorcycle crash, you may suffer injuries that impact your life long-term (i.e. traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, lacerations, spinal cord damage, etc.) or death. With over four and a half decades of legal experience, the attorneys at Zayas Law Firm are here to help you fight for your right to fair compensation and achieve the best possible case outcome.

To schedule a free consultation, you can contact our firm via phone (860) 854-9156 or online today. We work on a contingency fee basis and are available 24/7.

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