Fatal Motorcycle Accidents in North Carolina: What Have We Learned?

Since 1975, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been collecting statistics about vehicular accidents across the United States. Researchers now are poring over nearly 40 years of data to identify patterns in how people use—and misuse—their vehicles, hoping to apply that knowledge to the art of accident prevention.

Some interesting facts emerge from a look at the data for motorcycle accidents:

  • In 2010, there were 4,502 motorcyclist fatalities, continuing an upward trend that has seen only one annual decrease in the last 13 years.
  • Around 7.1 percent of all North Carolina traffic fatalities are motorcycle accidents, even though motorcycles represent only about 3 percent of the vehicles on the road.
  • Collisions with another vehicle make up the majority—about 75 percent—of motorcycle accidents. Usually a passenger car is the second vehicle.

Because the motorcycle provides no protection to a rider or passenger, North Carolina motorcycle collisions are inherently more serious than other accidents. Around 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; the comparable figure for car collisions is about 20 percent.

Why are fatal accidents so likely for motorcycles?

For researchers, the goal is quite straightforward: the better we understand the patterns of motorcycle collisions in North Carolina, the better we can anticipate—and maybe prevent—some of those accidents when the circumstances are right. Already, some indications are clear:

  • Performance and stability. Motorcycles can accelerate rapidly and maneuver more readily than passenger vehicles. That enables them to travel at high speeds, but also makes them vulnerable to high-speed crashes. Although motorcycles are more maneuverable, they are less stable than vehicles with four or more wheels. Bikers who attempt to stop too quickly risk flipping their vehicles or losing control of steering.
  • Profile and visibility. Because motorcycles are narrower than a passenger car, they easily can be overlooked by drivers who are conditioned to watch for wider vehicles. The small width also means a bike is more easily hidden in a driver’s blind spots. “I didn’t see him” is the most common response from car drivers who slam into motorcycles.
  • Physical vulnerability. Automobile passengers are protected by the hard body of the car and by safety devices—seat belts and air bags—that simply do not exist for a motorcyclist. If an accident happens, the biker has only his protective clothing and helmet to guard him from injuries. Just sliding across the surface of the road can abrade clothing to tatters and scar tender skin.

Recovery After the Accident

The majority of motorcycle crashes are due to a collision with another vehicle, and often the other driver is to blame.

If you have been hurt in a North Carolina motorcycle accident, you may have rights to a financial recovery. A negligent car or truck driver may be held responsible for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income. Find out more by speaking with an experienced Wilmington personal injury lawyer from Speaks Law Firm today. 

Call 910-341-7570 locally or 877-593-4233 toll-free statewide to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation. We will give you our best advice and our best estimate of the compensation we may be able to recover on your behalf.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.