These are the 6 Biggest Risk Factors for Kansas Motorcyclists

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Motorcyclist risk factors in Kansas

In 2018, about 65,000 traffic crashes involving over 100,000 vehicles were reported in Kansas. Of these crashes, a mere 1.3% involved motorcycle collisions. Yet, of the 350 people who lost their lives in these crashes, nearly 60 were motorcyclists.

This is not just a Kansas-specific problem! According to NHTSA data, almost 5,200 motorcyclists and their passengers lost their lives in traffic collisions in 2017. In fact, motorcycle crashes have a 27% higher risk of ending up in a fatality than any other passenger vehicle.

If you notice, motorcyclist deaths accounted for nearly 16% for all fatalities caused due to collisions in Kansas. Motorcycles accounted for less than 1% of all vehicles involved in traffic crashes. Compare this with cars, 50% of all vehicles involved in crashes are passenger cars and they account for just 30% of all crash related fatalities.

It is obvious that the odds are stacked against motorcyclists when it comes to risks on the road and the probability of suffering life threatening injuries.

A smaller, lighter, and less stable vehicle!

  1. Although weight varies across brands and engine types, on average, a motorcycle weighs about 600 lbs. Compare this with the weight range of most cars that stands between 3300 and 4500 lbs.

Now, bring in the mammoth weight of big rigs, which is approximately 80,000 lbs. and that of semi-trucks, which is about 33,000 lbs. When these figures are pitched against each other, it is easy to see why a motorcycle stands no chance even against a relatively slow-moving car, let alone a semi-truck or a big rig.

  • While motorcycles are compact and let you wade through bottle neck and limited spaces with relative ease, the two-wheeler design does take away from the stability of the vehicle. This means, any error in judgment and a motorcyclist will see themselves planted squarely on the road, even if there is no other vehicle involved.
  • Compactness also means that motorcycles are easy to miss and can inadvertently find themselves in the blind spot of larger vehicles. This factor alone can create a serious hazard because you cannot expect a driver to watch out for a vehicle he cannot or did not see in the first place.
  • Motorcycles simply do not offer the protection that comes with the metal frame of a closed vehicle. In case of impact, the metal body of a car absorbs the bulk of the shock. With a motorcycle, the bodies of the rider and the passenger are exposed to the full force of the crash.
  • While there is a lot of scope for the inclusion of life saving safety features in passenger vehicles, there simply is not enough room in a motorcycle to include any or at least most of these.

Is it any wonder then that the rate of motorcycle crash fatalities has doubled between 1975 and 2018, while in the same period, the rate of car crash fatalities has plunged by nearly 50%?

The big problem is that the vulnerability of motorcycles and their riders cannot be exclusively attributed to aspects of vehicle design and structure. There are several other factors that contribute just as much, and sometimes even more, to crashes involving motorcycles.

The top ten risk factors for motorcyclists on Kansas roads!

Most motorcycle riders claim that other motorists are the biggest threat to their safety when on the road. Undoubtedly, larger automobiles are an issue for the riders of these smaller vehicles. The fact is that many motorcycle crashes are products of the riders’ own making. For instance:

  1. The ride is road ready but not the rider: According to the NHTSA survey of 2017 on motorcycle collisions, a shocking 29% motorcyclist involved in fatal collisions did not have valid licenses. In Kansas, a 17-year-old can legally get a Class M license, which means that there are a lot of riders out there who are not particularly skilled nor experienced.

To add to the problem, it is not just young and inexperienced riders who are at risk. Nearly half of all motorcycle crashes involve older riders, particularly those over the age of 60 years. It does not help that people in this age group have a higher risk of suffering from serious and life-threatening injuries.

  • Drunk riding just as dangerous as drunk driving: More than 25% of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions have a BAC of more than .08 g/dL. Yet, some riders do not shy away from downing a few before taking to the road. The problem is that even at a BAC of 0.07, the mental acuity and physical abilities needed to control a motorcycle begin to plunge rapidly as proved by the Motorcyclist staff.

This does not stop riders from overestimating their abilities. They obviously fail to realize that intoxication not only hampers their ability to ride safely but also to make defensive moves that are required when sharing the road with larger vehicles.

  • Speed kills: Speeding is often the prime cause of trouble, regardless of the vehicle type, but it is particularly dangerous when the vehicle in question is a motorcycle. This is evident from NHTSA figures that implicate speeding in 33% of fatal motorcycle collisions.

Compare this with the 19% of car drivers and 7% of heavy truck drivers who lose their lives in high speed crashes, and it is easy to see how being a speed demon can prove to be exceptionally dangerous for motorcycle riders.

  • The time of the day and the day of the week: Peak traffic hours are dangerous times to be on the road simply because more cars on the road equate to less space, more congestion, and flaring tempers. Basically, all the ingredients that go into the making of fatal crashes. Add alcohol to this mix and you have a near perfect recipe for disaster, and figures back this observation completely.

For motorcyclists, the 6 pm to 9 pm slot is the most dangerous during weekdays because that is when most people are travelling back from work. Over weekends, the three hours between 6 pm and 9 pm pose the greatest threat for motorcycle riders. That said, weekends are undoubtedly more dangerous than weekdays, clocking in almost 20% of all serious motorcycle crashes.

  • Weather woes: Only 3% of all motorcycle crashes can be blamed on inclement weather because better sense prevails among most motorcyclists who steer clear of venturing out when nature is in a bad mood. As rare as they are, bad weather motorcycle collisions also tend to be quite serious.

Of all the weather conditions, those that affect visibility present the highest risk of two-vehicle crashes. Factors that affect surface traction, like water or snow on the road, create the highest risk for single vehicle collisions.

  • Throwing caution to wind: The lack of safety gear, helmets to be more specific, does not directly contribute to the risk of getting into a motorcycle crash. It does significantly raise the risk of suffering from serious and even life-threatening injuries.

According to CDC findings, helmets lower the risk of serious head injuries by almost 80% and death due to such injuries by nearly 40%. Kansas Laws mandate the use of helmets only for riders below the age of 18 years. Not wearing a helmet will contribute towards your comparative negligence if you suffer injuries in a motorcycle crash.

  • Motorcycle variations and woes: While sport bikes are incredibly popular given their lighter weight and higher speed range, they account for twice as many crashes as regular motorcycles. In fact, 4 in 10 motorcycle crashes involve 500 to 1000 cc engine bikes. 

In contrast, mishaps due to mechanical defects are rare and contribute a mere 3% to the total number of collisions involving motorcycles. Nonetheless, you should note that defective brake pads, tires, wheel rims and issues with the fuel tank and engine can cause the rider to lose control of the motorcycle, leading to a serious crash.

  • Roads riddled with hazards: Potholes, edge breaks, uneven expansion joints, gravel on the pavement, badly designed intersections, extreme slopes, lack of guardrails and inadequate lighting may only be minor annoyances for motorists in cars but for a motorcycle rider, these can be serious dangers.

The lack of an outer shell in a motorcycle and the low stability of the two-wheeler design, make motorcyclists particularly susceptible to faulty road design, poor construction, and inadequate road maintenance.

Because uneven roads simultaneously reduce the available traction while increasing the need for better control of the vehicle, collisions precipitated by them can lead to serious injuries and even death. The only silver lining here is that according to NHTSA’s “The Hurt Report” less than 2% of all motorcycle crashes are caused due to surface conditions. Yet, this is a risk factor to watch out for!

  • The other guy turning a blind eye: More than half of all motorcycle crashes are two vehicle crashes involving motorists who simply failed to see the motorcycle or violated the rider’s right of way. Approximately 80% of such crashes involve a head on collision, which often leads to serious injuries and fatalities.

Left turn collisions, in which the motorcycle ends up in the blind spot of the vehicle, are the second most common type of collisions involving a car and a motorcycle. Multi vehicle collisions that include 2 cars and a motorcycle usually result from lane splitting.

  1. The dangers that lurk on an empty road: Nearly 25% of all motorcycle crashes are single vehicle crashes in which the rider collides against a fixed object. Such collisions occur because the rider loses control or because he cannot bring the motorcycle to a stop in time.

The most concerning aspect of such mishaps is that they are rarely a result of inclement weather, mechanical failure, or poor road conditions. For the better part, these are caused by abnormally wide turns, speeding, rider recklessness and error. 

The double whammy for Kansas motorcycle crash victims!

Unlike other car owners and even pedestrians, motorcyclists are not automatically covered by Personal Injury Protection, even though Kansas is a no-fault state. PIP coverage will not be included in your motorcycle insurance unless you have purchased it separately.

If you have, the immediate financial restitution will be capped by the policy limits. Given the seriousness of the injuries sustained by riders in most motorcycle crashes, it is unlikely that the few thousand dollars of PIP compensation will see you through the months of recovery that await you.

The more serious the injuries, the more mentally traumatizing the whole experience is. While you struggle and fight to get back on your feet, the last thing you need is the anxiety and stress of who pays the medical bills.

We can help you like we have helped so many others!

If you have been in a motorcycle crash, contact us today! Unlike all those motorists on the road, at DeVaughn James Injury Lawyers we know for a fact that it is not always the motorcyclist who is at fault. Our experienced attorneys will carefully analyze every aspect of your case to get you the maximum recovery for your collision.

As the injured party in a motorcycle crash, you can get compensation but only if you get in touch with a skilled lawyer. DeVaughn James has decades of experience handling personal injury cases, particularly those that involve motorcycle crashes.

We aggressively pursue our clients claim and do not shy away from taking the matter to court if need be. Contact us now because your chances of getting your rightful compensation plunge with each passing day.