Everyone knows that riding a motorcycle carries risks. Responsible motorcyclists try to minimize these risks by wearing protective gear and driving carefully and cautiously. Indeed, Georgia has a mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists, and by some measures, nearly 90% of motorcyclists abide by the law.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much a motorcyclist can do to protect themselves. They must share the road with other vehicles, and other drivers may not be so careful.
Georgia DDS research
Research from the Georgia Department of Driver Services can help illustrate the dangers faced by motorcyclists in our state.
According to the DDS, motorcycles account for just 2% of all vehicles registered in the state, and are involved in just 1% of reported traffic accidents. This suggests that motorcyclists are more careful than drivers of other vehicles.
Unfortunately, while they may be involved in fewer accidents, these accidents are more likely to be fatal. Motorcyclists represented just 0.4% of all people involved in Georgia traffic accidents in 2019, but 11% of all traffic fatalities.
While many motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle accidents, 63% involve other vehicles — usually passenger cars. The most common type of collisions involved were rear-end collisions.
The DDS research does not indicate which type of vehicle crashed into the other in these cases, nor does it indicate who was at fault. However, other researchers have found that car drivers often cause these accidents by stopping suddenly in front of a motorcycle, or by abruptly switching into a motorcyclist’s lane.
Were these accidents to involve two passenger cars, they might be nothing more than a fender bender, with minor injuries. But when one of the vehicles involved is a motorcycle, the result can easily be serious injury or death for the motorcyclist, even if the car driver walks away without a scratch.
Many of these accidents come about because car drivers fail to see the motorcyclist before they act.
Car drivers have a duty to others on the road to watch out for other vehicles, including motorcycles. When they fail to do so, they act negligently. Motorcyclists injured because of another driver’s negligence can hold the negligent driver liable for their damages.