It’s estimated that there are about 175,000 motorcycles registered in the state of Oklahoma. There are so many motorcycles with good reason–they are a convenient, fun, and accessible way to get around town and explore Oklahoma’s diverse landscapes. However, despite the adventurous lifestyle motorcycles can create, motorcycles do come with heightened risks and an increased likelihood of accidents.
The team at Car Accident Help has combined decades of experience helping individuals and families who have been the victims of motorcycle accidents. We have seen firsthand the daily dangers and risks motorcyclists face on Oklahoma’s highways and roads. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident and have experienced catastrophic injury because of the actions or negligence of another, we’re here to help. Contact our team today for a free case evaluation.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics – Nationally and in Oklahoma
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are at higher risk nationwide for accidents and fatalities than the drivers of other vehicles. They report that in 2021, 5,932 motorcyclists were killed — 14% of all traffic fatalities.
Statistics in Oklahoma are very similar. There were 762 traffic fatalities in 2021 in Oklahoma, and 76 were motorcyclists. Forbes estimates that motorcycles make up only 3% of registered vehicles, so these statistics locally and nationally represent disproportionate fatalities for motorcyclists. Additionally, helmet use data shows that a helmet was not used in 79% of motorcycle fatalities in Oklahoma.
It’s also important to note that fatalities aren’t the only measurable risk; there were 990 documented injuries to motorcyclists in accidents in Oklahoma in 2021. Additionally, the majority of motorcycle accidents occurred from March through October. Because of Oklahoma’s beautiful weather most of the year, motorcyclists hit the road nearly year-round, and accidents were heightened across those months. In 2021, accidents most commonly occurred in Oklahoma between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on weekend days.
The number of Oklahoma motorcycle crashes rose in 2021 compared to the previous two years. Which also is a trend nationwide. The NHTSA also reports these national trends on motorcycle accidents:
- Per vehicle miles traveled in 2021, motorcyclists were about 24 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash
- Motorcyclists were also four times more likely to be injured than passenger vehicle occupants
- Of the motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes in 2021, 36% were riding without valid motorcycle licenses
- In states without universal helmet laws, 55% of motorcyclists killed in 2021 were not wearing helmets, as compared to 9 percent in States with universal helmet laws
The data is clear: when someone is on their motorcycle, there is increased risk. But what causes motorcycle accidents, how can passenger car drivers be more aware, and what can be done to improve safety measures for motorcyclists?
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Oklahoma
There are many causes of motorcycle accidents in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reports the contributing factors of accidents each year. In 2021, the most common cause of motorcycle accidents was unsafe speed. Below are some of the top contributing factors for motorcycle accidents in Oklahoma in 2021.
- Unsafe Speed (22.8%)
- Improper Act/Movement (7.3%)
- Followed Too Closely (4.8%)
- Failed to Yield (4.3%)
- Inattention (3.9%)
- Alcohol DUI/DWI (2.3%)
- Unsafe Vehicle (2.3%)
- Failed to Stop (1.5%)
- Improper Overtaking (1.4%)
- Changed Lanes Unsafely (1.4%)
There are many more reasons why motorcycles are involved in accidents. Put plainly, these common causes of motorcycle accidents can be simplified as:
- reckless driving
- distracted driving
- driving while impaired
- improper or illegal actions when driving
Because of the small profile, low weight, and exposure of the motorcyclist to other vehicles and the elements, motorcyclists are at higher risk of injury when someone (either the motorcyclist or the operator of another vehicle) makes a risky or unsafe action on the road. You may also hear about other hazards to motorcyclists, such as open car doors and roadway hazards like potholes or poorly marked construction zones, which also pose a danger.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Don’t Ride Your Motorcycle While Under the Influence
The NHTSA reports approximately 43% of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve alcohol. They state, “A motorcycle requires more skill and coordination to operate than a car. Riding a motorcycle while under the influence of any alcohol significantly decreases an operator’s ability to operate it safely.” Our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers agree that one of the most important ways to stay safe is by not operating your motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Wear A Helmet When You Ride
The data clearly shows you are less likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries when you wear a helmet. Oklahoma does not require helmets for motorcyclists 18 and older; however, just because it’s not required doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Helmets are required by Oklahoma law for those under 18.
Stay Visible to Other Drivers
It is reported that about one-third of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes result from motorists turning into the motorcycle’s path. Motorcyclists must remain visible at all times and anticipate what might happen. Additionally, if you’re driving a motorcycle, you should anticipate drivers making left turns may not see you. You should be prepared to make defensive maneuvers to move yourself out of harm’s way.
Safety Tips for Driving Near Motorcycles
Sharing the road with motorcyclists (as well as cyclists or other riders) requires a little extra effort from the drivers of passenger vehicles. However, it is vital for everyone’s safety. Motorcyclists have the same right to the road as car operators, and it’s everyone’s job to stay alert and ensure safety.
Check Your Blind Spots
Motorcycles are much smaller than cars or other large vehicles on the road. It’s easy for a motorcycle to be hidden in your blind spot or missed in your mirror. It may be easy to miss if a motorcycle has changed lanes near you. Before you turn or change lanes, check your side mirrors and turn your neck to look at your blind spots.
If you’re driving near a motorcycle on a highway or busy road, you must be aware of the bike’s location the entire time you pass. Give the motorcycle plenty of space before you change lanes and use your signals so they know where you’re going.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Abrupt stops, quick lane changes, or unsignaled turns can mean severe injury if they cause a motorcycle accident. The easiest way to prevent this? Stay focused on the task at hand–driving your car. Keep your phone, snacks, and other distractions out of reach so you don’t cause an accident.
Double Check at Left Turns
Motorcycle accidents caused by collisions at left turns can be severe. If a driver makes a left turn without checking for oncoming motorcycles, the motorcycle can collide with the car, resulting in a T-bone accident. Be courteous, double-check for oncoming motorcycles, and share the road.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in serious injury due to the actions or negligence of someone else, you should consult a qualified Oklahoma motorcycle accident attorney. The team at Car Accident Help can answer any questions you may have regarding motorcycle accidents, the laws related to motorcycles in Oklahoma, and the options you have to seek compensation after an accident. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.