How to avoid the 5 most common motorcycle accidents


Published on 10 December 2015 by Gill


Filed under Category: Tips and advice

Around 30 motorcyclists are killed or injured every day at junctions, with riders of two wheels accounting for 19% of all road user deaths. Although the number of fatalities has declined since 2008, more can be done to keep this number falling. 

Motorcycle Law Scotland has identified the five most common motorcycle accidents and offered advice on steps you can take to avoid them.

1. Bends on rural roads

motorcycle accidents bendMost of your motorcycle training may have taken place in a city, town or built-up area. Country roads represent different challenges to motorcyclists. Unfortunately, most accidents are caused on country roads, particularly left-hand bends.

Some bends are smooth and open up once you are into them, whereas others tighten up dramatically. A good motorcyclist will read the road ahead and look for particular clues as to how the road will bend.

For example, you should look at the tree line, the path of telegraph poles and hedges or buildings at the side of the road. Positioning for bends is important. Sometimes, wide loads have to cross over the centre line in order to negotiate a bend.

Unfortunately, many collisions occur on left-hand bends when a motorcyclist has taken a line toward the centre of the road to extend vision, but at the same time has exposed him or herself to a risk of colliding with an oncoming vehicle that may be over the centre line.

Observation is key to safety when negotiating bends. Always have something in reserve in case the bend is not as it initially first appeared.


2. Collisions at junctions

motorcycle accidents junctionMotorcyclists are particularly vulnerable at junctions, and accidents at T-Junctions occur frequently. Many motorists fail to see an approaching motorcyclist and research has shown that many car drivers have difficulty judging the speed of a motorcycle and as a result underestimate the motorcycle’s time of arrival.

Always remember that in a collision with a larger vehicle, a motorcycle will come off worse. Ride defensively.

At junctions attempt to get eye contact with the driver emerging from a minor road onto a major road. Think about how visible you are to others. Consider how you would deal with a vehicle emerging unexpectedly into your path.


3. Overtaking

motorcycle accidents overtakingOvertaking is a basic skill and requires the ability to judge speed and distance and know the capability of your own motorcycle. Generally speaking, a motorcycle can overtake far quicker than a car because of acceleration rate.

However, do not overtake when approaching bends, junctions, hills or dips in the road and particularly where there are solid double white lines or other lines prohibiting overtaking.

Take extreme care when overtaking a line of traffic as often a car driver following a slower vehicle in a queue of traffic will be concentrating on what is ahead of him and not what is behind him.

If you are riding with others, plan your own overtaking move and do not rely on the front rider.


4. Loss of control

motorcycle accidents controlThe two main reasons for loss of control arise from road surface defect and shunts with other vehicles.

It is extremely difficult to avoid any collision which involves you being rear-end shunted by another vehicle, particularly at roundabouts. Equally, many car drivers will brake suddenly and attempt to turn into a junction.

This has become a more frequent problem with the heavy reliance upon sat nav. Always leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front.

If the vehicle in front has braked sharply and attempted to turn without any indication and you run into the rear of that vehicle, do not assume that accident is entirely your own fault as the vehicle in front has a duty to ensure that following vehicles are aware of what he is doing or likely to do.

Road surface defects are responsible for many instances of loss of control. Loose chippings and diesel spills are particularly hazardous.

A diesel spill arises from a negligent act and you can pursue a claim under the MIB (Untraced Drivers Scheme) for your injury claim. If you lose control as a result of a diesel spill you must report that diesel spill to the police within a 14-day period. Take photographs.

If you lose control on a road surface defect report that defect to the police and the local authority. Take photographs.


5. Filtering

motorcycle accidents filterFiltering is perfectly legal and is a way to make safe progress in slow moving or stationary traffic.

The Highway Code advises motorcyclists that when filtering they should position themselves so other drivers can see them in their mirrors. When filtering, you should keep your speed down as anything above 15-20mph may be deemed a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre.

Do not filter past junctions unless you are absolutely sure there are no cars emerging out of that junction.

When filtering through traffic, do so with extreme care and watch for vehicles changing lane unexpectedly or performing U-turns in front of you.

If a collision occurs with another vehicle when you have been filtering, a court may well consider you to be partly to blame. On that basis, keep your speed down and filter with care.


Read more: 10 tips for safe motorcycle filtering


You can join the BMF and help us protect the rights of motorcyclists for just £28 a year. Find out more here.