A recent University of Southern California study looked in great detail at 3,600 motorcycle accidents nationwide. It is one of the largest analyses of causes and countermeasures ever made. For Virginia motorcyclists, the conclusions of this study are a useful source of information on how to ride and what to look out for.

What are the salient points of this study?

Single-vehicle crashes:

  • One-quarter of the accidents were single-vehicle crashes.
  • In two-thirds of the single-vehicle crashes, the biker made an error or lost control of the bike, typically by running wide on a curve, under-cornering, sliding, and falling.

Multiple-vehicle crashes:


  • Close to three-quarters of the motorcycle accidents involved a collision with another vehicle.
  • In two-thirds of these multiple-vehicle crashes, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle's right-of-way.
  • Most of these accidents were caused by drivers not detecting the motorcycle, and, in the most frequent configuration, a vehicle turning left cut into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
  • Frequently, in a crash involving another vehicle, the other driver's view of the motorcycle was hampered by glare or obstructed by other vehicles.

Crash circumstances:



  • Most of the motorcycle crashes occurred at intersections.
  • Roadway defects and motorcycle failure account for no more than two and three percent, respectively, of the total number of accidents.
  • Most bike accidents occurred during a short trip (rather than hour-, day- or week-long voyages) and at a location close to the trip's origin.




  • Motorcycle riders aged between 16 and 24 were over-represented in the accidents, while riders between the ages of 30 and 50 were under-represented.
  • Bikers with previous traffic citations and accidents were over-represented in the accident data.
  • Motorcyclists involved in crashes were overwhelmingly without training, with 92 percent self-taught or taught by family and friends.
  • Almost half of the fatal accidents showed alcohol involvement.




  • Half of the body injuries were to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and tight-upper leg.
  • The use of heavy boots, jackets, and gloves effectively prevented and reduced abrasion and lacerations (road rash).
  • Fatal injuries were mostly to the head and chest.

The motorcycle accident lawyers of Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas take your safety seriously. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Virginia motorcycle crash, please contact our Warrenton or Culpeper office today to discuss your accident case.


Andrew Thomas
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Civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

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