My wife and I were traveling in our car last weekend in stop-and-go traffic when we were rear-ended by a motorcyclist. His pride was bruised and his right leg was scraped up, but the rider is otherwise fine. We were stopped for a red light and the rider came upon us too quickly to stop. He swerved to the left to miss us, but the concrete curb prevented him from moving over, causing his crash bar to catch the driver’s side rear bumper, causing him to fly over his handle bars (fortunately into a grass median), and channeling his bike as it moved forward, wedging itself between the curb and the driver's side of the car. The bike came to rest even with the driver's door with its wheels slightly under the car. The bike looked in pretty bad shape, but it was still street-worthy. After we chatted with the local medics and highway patrol, we all continued our respective trips.
I passed this story around this past week because lots of times I have heard that it’s the car’s driver that doesn't see a motorcycle on the road, but I learned first-hand last weekend sometimes a rider gets distracted to his or her great detriment. So my message is for all riders to be careful out there, because sometimes it’s our fault and not the driver of the car!
A long distance rider friend reinforced my point, with what I thought were some very surprising statistics. He highlighted that the large majority of motorcycle-involved collisions – including this one – could have been prevented by the rider, and that drivers are truly at fault only about 15% of the time. For example, my friend passed along unofficial statistics for Oregon motorcycle fatalities in 2011, which identified the fault for 39 accidents as follows:
19 single vehicle accidents were the rider’s fault
13 motorcycle vs. car accidents were the rider's fault
5 motorcycle vs. car accidents were the driver's fault
2 motorcycle accidents caused by animals or other factors
I don’t know how representative Oregon’s statistics are when compared nationwide, but the lesson I learned from sharing this accident with more experienced riders is that there are times when the car doesn’t see the motorcycle, but as riders we can avoid most accidents by always being aware of our surroundings, paying attention to what is in front of us, and looking for potentially dangerous situations. Ride hard, ride far, ride safe.