Riding a motorcycle comes with risks. Everyone who rides a motorcycle knows that. In Washington, before they can get an endorsement on their license allowing them to legally drive a motorcycle, riders have to go through special training, pass a written test and a riding skills test. Much of the training focuses on how to be a responsible motorcyclist and avoid road hazards.
All this is for the best. We all want motorcyclists to be safe. The shortcoming of this motorcyclist safety-education-based approach is that it doesn’t always do enough to keep motorcyclists safe from the biggest hazards on the road: other drivers. When other drivers fail to see motorcyclists, and violate their right of way, the results can be deadly.
According to a Washington Traffic Safety Commission review of accident statistics from 2013 to 2017, only about 3% of the vehicles on the roads were motorcycles, but they accounted for 15% of all fatalities in traffic accidents during those years. They accounted for another 19% of all serious injuries. According to the Traffic Safety Commission, these statistics have been relatively consistent every year through the past decade.
Many of these accidents involved only the motorcyclist, but many involved another vehicle. By some measures, as many as two-thirds of motorcycle accidents that involve another vehicle are caused by the other driver, who has violated the motorcyclist’s right of way. Because motorcycles provide so little protection, in comparison to cars and trucks, any collision between a motorcycle and another vehicle is highly likely to lead to serious injury or death for the motorcyclist.
While everyone knows riding a motorcycle comes with risks, that doesn’t give other drivers the right to act negligently around motorcycles. When a negligent driver causes an accident that injures or kills a motorcyclist, the negligent driver can be held liable for damages.