What Are the Most Common Road Hazards for Motorcyclists?

motorcycle on its side in the roadRiding a motorcycle can be more dangerous than driving a car. For example, minor obstacles, such as leaves, gravel or railroad crossings, can cause a motorcycle accident if the rider does not use caution, while a car will pass over these items without incident.

Our trusted motorcycle accident lawyers in Sacramento have created a list of seven of the most common road hazards that can cause motorcycle accidents. This list also contains tips on safely navigating over or around these obstacles to help prevent a crash.

Unfortunately, you could still be involved in an accident even if you exercise extreme caution. If that happens, schedule a free legal consultation with our reputable attorneys to determine your legal options. Someone else could be liable and you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other damages caused by your personal injury.

1. Railroad Crossings

Motorcycle tires can get stuck on the tracks of railroad crossings, which could lead to the rider being thrown from the bike. These crossings become even more dangerous when the wood between the tracks gets wet or becomes slippery. The wheels on the motorcycle can lose traction, making it difficult to maintain control of the bike.

Reduce the risk of a crash at a railroad crossing by travelling over the tracks in a straight, perpendicular line. Avoid moving over them diagonally or at an angle. Either maintain your speed as you cross the tracks or slow down as you approach the tracks and accelerate with moderation just before you cross. Speed can help lighten the front of your bike and prevent the tracks from grabbing the front wheel.

2. Edge Breaks Between Lanes

Edge breaks between lanes occur when one traffic lane is higher or lower than another. Edge breaks are particularly dangerous on highways because riders are traveling at high speeds.

Bikers should use caution when encountering edge breaks and slow down as they are passing over them.

3. Expansion Joints/Bridge Joints

An expansion joint is a piece of metal that connects sections of road together, while a bridge joint connects parts of a bridge together. These joints are essential because they allow the concrete to expand without cracking.

However, these joints can create large gaps in the road that can catch a motorcycle wheel, similar to railroad crossings. Avoid significant changes in speed or direction when you travel over these joints. Keep your wheels in a straight, perpendicular line until your bike is over the joint. 

4. Gravel

Gravel can cause your wheels to lose traction, which could cause the bike to slide out from under you. Gravel is particularly dangerous on curves because you have to shift your body weight to navigate around the curve.

When riding through gravel, minimize the lean of your motorcycle and avoid quick braking, accelerating or swerving. If possible, maintain consistent speed as you pass through the gravel area. If you need to slow down, let off the throttle smoothly, then apply the brakes gradually.

5. Wet Surfaces

Wet surfaces present the risk of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur on any wet surface, but is most dangerous when a light rain begins and mixes with the oil residue on the roadway. This risk is higher than in a car, because a motorcycle only two wheels gripping the road.

When riding in the rain or riding traveling over a wet surface, brake gradually and with caution. Reducing speed abruptly can loss of tire traction and control of the bike. If there is a wet surface on a turn, slow down as you enter and slowly accelerate to help balance the bike to proceed through the rest of the turn.

6. Debris in the Roadway

Roadway debris can include pieces of tires, rocks, leaves, tree branches and items that fell from other vehicles, like tools, clothing or garbage. Traveling over these objects can be dangerous, and items can also hit riders, potentially causing serious injuries.

Stay alert when riding and maneuver around debris whenever safe to do so without putting yourself in harm's way. If you are unable to maneuver around leaves or other small objects proceed with caution while traveling over them. Keep your bike straight and avoid quickly braking or accelerating. 

7. Animals

When an animal, such as a dog, possum or squirrel, is in the roadway, reduce speed and maneuver around it -- only if it is safe to do so. Unfortunately, motorists can cause more severe accidents when they swerve to avoid animals and other objects in the road.

Before maneuvering around an animal, check your mirrors and your blind spot and proceed with caution. Other vehicles may not be able to brake or swerve as quickly, and the animal in your path may not be visible to other drivers.

Always travel at speeds that allow time to safely react to whatever is in front of you, whether it is other cars, debris or animals in the road.

Work with an Attorney on Your Motorcycle Crash Claim

Injuries from a motorcycle accident are often severe and require extensive medical treatment, even when damage to the vehicles seems minor.

When riding a motorcycle, precautions are important, including staying alert, riding with caution and proper technique, and wearing protective clothing and a quality helmet. While many crashes can be avoided with preventative measures, some collisions are caused another driver's carelessness. In these situations, the victim could be entitled to compensation for the physical, emotional and financial effects of his or her injuries.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact a Sacramento personal injury attorney at our law firm for a free consultation to determine if you have a viable claim. We take cases on contingency, which means there is no fee for our services unless you recover compensation.

Call (916) 777-7777 or fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.