Motorcycle Accidents: Road Hazards

Be alert for motorcycle road hazards and take steps to avoid motorcycle accidents.

By , Attorney
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  • Road hazards are a common cause of motorcycle accidents. Things that have little effect on a car, like debris, uneven road surfaces, small objects, or wet pavement, can cause a motorcycle to crash. Motorcyclists should understand what constitutes a hazard, be alert for such dangers, and take precautions to avoid them. If a biker is injured in a road hazard accident, who or what entity might be liable for the bikers injuries is governed by negligence law.

    Common Road Hazards for Motorcycles

    Motorcyclists encounter many more hazards on the road than do cars. Bikers should not assume that because theyve been driving a car for years, they know what is dangerous. Some of the most common hazards for motorcycles, like leaves, are surprising. Learn what does and does not constitute a hazard before you hit the road on your motorcycle. Here are some of the things bikers should be on the lookout for.

    Rough roads. Rough and bumpy roads, either from disrepair, construction work, or resurfacing efforts, can cause motorcycle accidents.

    Gravel on pavement. Gravel is one of the trickiest hazards for motorcyclists to navigate. It is particularly troublesome if encountered during cornering. Unfortunately, gravel on pavement tends to be more common on winding roads --which are popular with bikers and which require lots of cornering. Accidents caused by gravel go hand in hand with motorcyclists who are going too fast, some of whom do not have the requisite skills to ride a bike in such conditions.

    Edge breaks. An edge break is when two traffic lanes are different heights. This is not a big deal if you are driving a car, but can be problematic for unsuspecting motorcyclists, especially when traveling on the freeway at high speeds.

    Expansion joints. Expansion joints connect two sections of a road together, or a section of a road to a bridge. They allow the road to expand or contract without cracking. The uneven surface can cause motorcycle riders to crash and can become slick in wet weather.

    Open bridge joints. Open bridge joints hold sections of a bridge together. Some can be very wide, making it difficult for motorcycle riders to navigate.

    Animals. Hitting a small animal can throw a motorcycle off path or off balance. Unfortunately, live animals that run into the road are difficult to anticipate and swerving to avoid them can cause an accident as well. Large animals, like deer, can be a major hazard in areas with large deer populations. Hitting a deer can be fatal for a motorcycle rider.

    Slick surfaces. The list of objects and surfaces that are, or can become, slippery is long. Slippery surfaces are much more dangerous for motorcycles than for cars. The unstable nature of a two-wheeled bike and the smaller, lighter size mean that sliding on the road can easily result in a crash. Slick surfaces are even more dangerous when the biker is turning. The following debris and road surfaces can be very slippery, especially when wet:

    • leaves
    • crosswalk lines
    • trolley tracks
    • other painted surfaces, and
    • anti-freeze or oil.

    Bikers must also be cautious of rain after a dry spell. A first rain on a dry road is difficult to drive on, even for cars. The mud and oil on the road combine with the water to form a slippery later. The first half hour of a rainstorm is the most dangerous time to ride on the road.

    Standing water. Some motorcycle tires can cause hydroplaning when driving through a puddle of water.

    Snow and ice. Snow and ice are more hazardous for motorcycles than for cars.

    Railway tracks and crossings. Motorcycle tires can get caught in a railway track, causing a crash. Some railway crossing areas have metal or wood between the tracks, which become extremely slick when wet.

    Debris or objects in the road. Debris or objects in the road, such as parts of tire treads, things fallen from trucks (furniture, tools, boxes), branches, or rocks, are more hazardous to motorcycles than cars. Not only can they cause a crash, but the object itself can hit and seriously harm the rider.

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