Motorcycles give their riders a freedom on the road that is unlike any other vehicle driving with the wind in your hair and the open road in front of you can be exhilarating.

Before you hit the road on your next motorcycle trip, be sure you understand the unique dangers that put riders at risk.

Cars Are Often to Blame for Motorcycle Accidents

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report from 2014, there were 93,000 motorcyclists injured and nearly 5,000 killed after accidents in 2012. Over three-quarters of these accidents involved a collision with a car, truck, or other passenger vehicle.

Of the accidents between a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle, at least 2/3 were attributed to error on the part of the car driver. Usually, other drivers failed to yield the right-of-way to the motorcyclist.

Whether these drivers did not see the motorcycle, or simply misunderstood the rules of the road is unclear. It does mean, however, that motorcyclists should always be expecting other motorists to pull out in front of them, turn in front of them, or stop in front of them. Though it may be unfair to expect motorcycle riders to anticipate bad driving behavior from other vehicles, doing so may save your life.

Motorcycles are More Dangerous than Other Vehicles

Motorcycles make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in America. However, they account for 15% of all traffic fatalities.

Nearly 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury to or the death of the rider. Per mile traveled, a motorcyclist is more than 26 times more likely than a person in a passenger car to die in a traffic crash.

In addition, the conditions of a motorcycle accident are often more dangerous than accidents involving two passenger cars. Spilled fuel is present at 62% of motorcycle accidents, leading to an unusually high risk of fire after an accident.

Alcohol Plays a Large Part in Accidents

Almost 30% percent of all motorcycle accidents involve a rider who has been drinking. Motorcyclists have a higher rate of intoxication in fatal accidents than any other type of driver on the road.

In single-vehicle motor cycle accidents, the statistics are sobering. 43% of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes were intoxicated. If only weekend night accidents are considered, this number raises to 64%.

Obviously, the biggest takeaway riders can glean from these statistics is to never ride while intoxicated. Your risk of injury or death is much greater than that of a passenger car driver.

Helmet Use Saves Lives

States around the country vary in their requirements for riders to wear helmets. Only Illinois and Iowa have no requirement whatsoever for riders to wear helmets. Some states require all riders to wear helmets, and others like Oklahoma only require motorcyclists to wear helmets if they are under a certain age.

Regardless of the state of helmet laws where you live, one thing is clear, helmets save lives. The NHTSA estimated that the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists were saved by helmets in 2012. The organization estimates that helmets are 37% effective at preventing fatal injuries, meaning that for every 100 motorcyclists killed in an accident, 37 could have been saved had they been wearing a helmet.

The attorneys at The Edwards Law Firm understand that riding a motorcycle means balancing risk with reward. Our attorneys urge you to use caution when riding, and always wear a helmet.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, The Edwards Law Firm will fight to get you the justice you deserve.