The first upstate New York motorcycle fatality of the season has been reported. Local news sources say that a West Seneca man died Sunday after his motorcycle rear-ended another car on the Thruway in West Seneca. The 29-year old rider was thrown from his bike upon impact, but the motorcycle continued on after the rider was ejected, and eventually struck a guardrail and burst into flames. The cyclist died at Mercy hospital hours later.
Unfortunately, this tragic end of young man’s life won’t be the last this motorcycle season. While a car-on-car rear-end collisions can cause only minor injury, a motorcycle rear-end accident is often, as it was here, deadly. Sudden stops can cause the bike to catapult end-over-end, with the rider being thrown off the bike, or under it.
Explosions and fires from gas leaks, like the one in this case, are also quite common after serious motorcycle collisions.
Motorcycle accident statistics speak loud and clear: Only about one out of every five motorcyclists walk away from a motorcycle accident with minor injuries. Motorcyclists are about 25 times more likely to die in a collision than passengers in other motor vehicles. Approximately 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death, but for automobile occupants, injury or death is at only 20 percent.
The common notion that motorcycle accidents are usually caused by aggressive motorcycle driving is flat wrong. Most motorcycle accidents are not the motorcyclist’s fault (though this one appears to have been). Several studies show that two thirds of all collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles are the other vehicle driver’s fault. Usually the other vehicle fails to see the motorcycle and turns into the motorcycle’s lane or otherwise violates the motorcyclist’s right of way.
Motorcyclists, of course, are not blameless. Sometimes they cause accidents by speeding, by failing to slow down when cornering, or by under-cornering or over-braking. Inexperience with motorcycles is the root cause of many such mistakes.
The most important study ever conducted in the U.S. on motorcycle accidents was the “Hurt Report” (Los Angeles area, 1981). One of the most important findings of this study was that most motorcycle-car collisions are caused by the failure of motorists to notice motorcyclists. Therefore, you can minimize the risks you run on your bike by using your headlight even in the daylight and wearing high-visibility, bright yellow, orange or red jackets.