According to the well-known Hurt study, by Harry Hurt, University of Southern California, approximately 75% of motorcycle accidents involved a collision with another vehicle, usually a passenger automobile. The driver of the other vehicle usually violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way, and caused the accident in two-thirds of those motorcycle accidents, often violating traffic controls.
There are no real distinguishing factors involving the drivers of the other vehicle except that they are often of the ages of 20 to 29 or beyond 65. It should be no surprise that the biggest distinguishing factor is that the automobile drivers are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.
Most of these motorcycle accidents usually occur at an intersection. The most frequent type of motorcycle accident at an intersection is where the motorcycle proceeds straight while the automobile approaches the motorcyclist from the opposite direction and makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle. (This is also a common accident involving two cars.)
While weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle accidents, the view of the motorcycle was obstructed by glare or other vehicles in almost half of accidents between a car and a motorcycle. Although weather and even glare may not always be the cause, the biggest cause of motorcycle accidents with another car is the other driver’s failure to see the motorcycle until it was too late to afford the collision.
The ability of the motorcycle to stand out and be seen by other drivers is a critical factor in multiple vehicle accidents. The likelihood of a motorcycle accident was found to be significantly reduced by using motorcycle headlamps during daylight and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets. Consequently, there appears to be a good argument that loud pipes helped to reduce motorcycle accidents.
Like car accidents, most motorcycle accidents occur within a short distance of the origin of the trip, while shopping, etc. I believe that because the motorcyclist is very familiar with the area, he or she is too comfortable and less on guard.
Motorcyclists should be extra cautious at intersections. Be aware of traffic stopping behind you. Look for traffic coming from your left and right, even when your light is green, but be extra cautious about cars coming in the opposite direction which may make a left turn into your motorcycle. Do not assume that you are protected by a traffic light or stop sign. Be extra cautious near and at sunset when glare may be present and automobile drivers are less likely to see your motorcycle.