Motorcycle Vs. Car in a Collision: Looking at it From a Technical Standpoint
While we all understand the dangers of collisions between motorcycles and cars by the obvious, such as the difference in size, visibility, stability, and protection, those who have been injured in a motorcycle accident know all too well the difference in the aftermath.
Bikers who have been involved in motorcycle accidents with larger vehicles not only suffer more extensive injuries than passenger vehicle occupants, but face a 27 times greater chance of fatality in an accident.
In Las Vegas this week, a motorcycle accident that took place at Owens Avenue and Linn Lane was a reflection of those lopsided odds. The accident resulted when the biker went to make a left-hand turn at the intersection and was hit by a small SUV. While the motorcyclist was taken to University Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, the driver of the SUV had no injuries whatsoever.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents? Bikers Weigh In
A global survey entitled The Dynamics of Motorcycle Crashes surveyed 1,578 motorcyclists from around the world. These were riders owning motorcycles with the most advanced safety technology available yet had still been injured in a motorcycle crash.
While most official crash studies have focused on advancing technology and training to further reduce crash occurrences and injuries suffered by motorcyclists, these respondents were very clear on what they saw was the main cause of motorcycle accidents as real victims: driver error.
The Physics of a Motorcycle Collision
The dynamics of motorcycle vs. car accidents can be distilled into some basic physics.
Newton’s first law of motion, or “an object in motion tends to stay in motion,” can be applied to a motorcycle vs. car collision. When two vehicles collide, they come to an abrupt stop, but the bodies will tend to continue in motion.
While an occupant of a passenger car will be held in place by a seatbelt or airbag, halting that motion, the body of the motorcyclist remains in motion at the speed they were traveling. This means that the biker is often ejected and thrown into oncoming traffic or into other stationary objects.
Further considering simple physics in a collision, Newton’s inertia law, or third law of motion, states that when the forces in an action are equal between the two bodies, the reaction is also equal. However, in the case of a motorcycle, the force will be significantly more damaging because of its relative size. And while the force of an impact is absorbed across the framework of the car, there is no such framework to absorb the impact in the case of the motorcycle.
Consequently, at a slow speed, passengers in a car will have few injuries in a collision while that same collision can have deadly consequences for the motorcyclist.
The Dynamics of the Rider in a Motorcycle Accident
In a study published September 30, 2021 studying the mechanism
In the study, 4 specific motorcycle crash types were identified, with their resulting common injuries. These were
- A low side crash where the rider falls to the low side of the lean angle
- A high side crash where the rider falls to the opposite side of the turn in an attempt to correct, typically causing the motorcycle to flip and the rider thrown from the bike
- A top side crash where the motorcycle decelerates and the rider flips over the handlebars
- A collision where the motorcycle stikes or is struck by a stationary object and is subject to blunt trauma and deceleration force injuries
Each specific type of crash resulted in very specific injuries to a motorcyclist that typically don’t affect the occupants of passenger vehicles.
Motorcycle Claims and Insurance
Unfortunately, motorcyclists often find themselves in an adversarial relationship with an insurance company after an accident. This is because the industry has an inherent bias against motorcyclists, with insurance companies often blaming the cyclist in order to avoid paying an injury claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, it is critical to have the representation of an experienced Las Vegas personal injury attorney to ensure you are treated fairly. Contact the motorcycle accident attorneys at LV Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to understand how we can help after an accident.
LV Personal Injury Lawyers
400 S. 7th St #450
Las Vegas, NV 89101