Safest—and Not So Safe—Motorcycles

not so safe motorcycles

After representing countless motorcycle crash victims over the last few decades, we’ve learned that the type and brand of a motorcycle can make a major difference when it comes to safety.

Money, Inc. ranks the Yama YZF-R6, the Ducati Multistrada D-Air, the Yamaha V Star 250, the Suzuki V-strom 650 ABS, and the Honda CB 650F as the five safest motorcycles in the U.S. market. These vehicles have fewer handling accidents; instead, most crashes we see are due to the negligence or inattention of another auto driver.

Below, we explore some features of safer motorcycles, features (or lack thereof) of unsafe motorcycles, and your options if you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident.

Features of Safer Motorcycles

Motorcycles are more lightweight than cars and don’t offer the protection of a steel frame. As a result, motorcycle safety measures are focused on improving handling and responsiveness, making the motorcycle more apparent to other vehicles, and providing protection in the event of a crash.

Some common features of safer motorcycles include:

  • Antilock brake system (ABS) brakes
  • Active suspension
  • Aluminum or carbon frames to reduce the weight of the motorcycle
  • Airbags, included as part of a special riding jacket
  • Tubeless tires
  • Lower seats

These measures can make the motorcycle easier to control, prevent tire blow-outs, and provide protection to the rider if a crash does occur.

Of course, there’s no substitute when it comes to preventative safety. Riders must always wear a helmet and protective (and reflective) gear. By obeying the rules of the road and making yourself as visible as possible, you can work to reduce your risk of being involved in a motorcycle crash.

It’s also important to regularly maintain your motorcycle. Operating a bike with faulty brakes, bald tires, or a misfiring engine can significantly increase your risk of being involved in a crash. When it comes to riding a motorcycle, prevention and preparation can be the keys to avoiding harm.

Features of Dangerous Motorcycles

Rideapart ranks the five most dangerous motorcycles as the 1992-1995 Honda CBR900RR, the 1997-2000 Suzuki TL1000s, the 1985 Suzuki GSX-R 750, the three-wheel Honda “trikes (ATC models), and the 1875 Yamaha TZ750 flat tracker.

Fortunately, many of these models are older and tend to be more difficult to find. The three-wheeled vehicles, in particular, were recalled long ago due to safety concerns and deadly accidents. Three-wheelers have a different center of gravity than two- (or four)-wheeled vehicles and can be challenging for even experienced riders. Taking a turn or going up and down hills on a three-wheeled motorcycle can risk the bike tipping over.

Some of the most common characteristics of dangerous motorcycles include:

  • The ability to go at higher-than-highway speeds
  • Ultra-quick acceleration
  • High centers of gravity
  • Higher seats
  • A mismatch between the motorcycle structure and the amount of engine power produced

Although you don’t want your motorcycle to be the slowest or least powerful vehicle on the road, its smaller size and lighter weight can mean that many large engines are just too powerful for your needs. You want a bike that you can easily control, not one that will accelerate out from under you.

Other Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Many motorcycle accidents are caused by another auto driver who failed to signal before making a lane change. Because motorcycles are thinner than cars and have only one headlight, they’re more difficult to see—which is one reason why many motorcycles have incredibly loud exhaust systems.

Not all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. Even skilled and experienced motorcycle operators can be at risk due to adverse road conditions, vehicular maintenance issues, and the random careless acts of drivers around them. Other causes of motorcycle crashes can include defects in parts or workmanship; a missing lug nut or loose oil filter can quickly cause an accident.

Motorcycles require more significant rider involvement than four-wheeled vehicles. A motorcycle rider must balance the bike using their body weight, which means that a single moment of inattention can spell disaster. And because a motorcycle rider isn’t strapped to the bike, they run the risk of becoming a projectile when an accident occurs. In some tragic cases, the motorcyclist may be relatively uninjured from the accident itself but can be struck or killed by a passing vehicle.

Some tips that can help you reduce your risk of being in a motorcycle accident include:

  • Avoid riding in dangerous road conditions, like sleet and rain.
  • Take a motorcycle safety course. The more practice you have on a closed course before heading out on the open road, the more comfortable you’ll be in responding to any potential hazards that come your way.

What to Do if You’re In a Motorcycle Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle crash, there are a few key steps to take in the hours, days, and weeks following the accident.

Get to Safety

After a motorcycle crash, you can be vulnerable to injury from passing vehicles, especially on a busy road or highway. Get yourself and any others to safety and call 911.

Seek Medical Attention

Motorcycle crash injuries can range from minor (cuts, scrapes, and abrasions) to moderate (burns, minor fractures) or serious (traumatic brain injuries, amputation, and compound fractures). Even if you think your injuries are minor or don’t feel injured at all, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as you can.

“Surface” injuries like scrapes and burns can pose a risk of infection, while even mild brain injuries can cause permanent damage and increase your risk of developing dementia. And the adrenaline and cortisol that can flood your body after an accident may work to mask your pain; it may be days or even weeks before you feel the true physical impact of your crash.

Take Photos or Videos

In many cases, it may be impossible to get photos of the scene just after the accident—after all, you’re probably focused on your own physical safety and the condition of your bike. But having pictures of your bike, the other vehicle or vehicles, and any aftermath (like glass on the road, a twisted guardrail, or other physical damage) can help prove the harm that occurred and rebut any claims that the accident was less serious than it was.

You’ll also want to take photos of any visible injuries. Bruises and scrapes will quickly fade, but having a physical record of the damage you suffered can go a long way toward establishing your damages and fighting for maximum financial recovery.

Get Witness Contact Information

Another key step to take after an accident—if you’re able—is to get contact information from the other driver(s) involved and any eyewitnesses. Having this information can help you later, whether you just file a claim with your own insurance provider or pursue damages from the other driver in a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact an Attorney

After an accident, you may quickly be contacted by insurance representatives or others who are eager to settle the claim. But these representatives are not acting in your best interest. Instead, they’re focused on settling the claim as quickly as possible, for as little as possible. You may still be assessing your injuries and estimating the amount of damage to your motorcycle, which means you’re not in a good position to put a dollar value on your claim.

Accepting a settlement offer from the at-fault party or their insurance company (or even your own insurance company) requires you to permanently give up the right to recover any other damages. Depending on the circumstances of your accident and the injuries you’ve suffered, this could mean leaving tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle wreck due to someone else’s error, we can help. You need personalized advice from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who knows just how to evaluate the circumstances of your motorcycle crash, and can negotiate—or even litigate—on your behalf. We have expertise in representing the best interests of motorcycle crash victims, and can work to get the highest possible financial recovery on your behalf.

The earlier you contact us, the more quickly we can get to work to preserve any necessary evidence, advise you of your rights, and take away the burden of talking to countless insurance representatives or defense attorneys. Just give us a call or fill out the brief contact form on our website to schedule an initial consultation, learn more about your rights, and help chart a path for your future recovery. Getting you cared for is our primary concern.