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What Road Hazards Are Unique to Motorcycle Riders?

Posted in Motorcycle collision on October 14, 2022

Road hazards often play a role in motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are small and lightweight – more easily thrown off balance than passenger vehicles. Hazards that may have little effect on a car can lead to serious and debilitating injuries to a motorcycle rider. Motorcycle riders in West Virginia can help protect themselves from road hazards and defects by knowing what to look for when they scan the road ahead.

Loose Gravel or Rough Roads

The state of the surface of a road has a significant impact on the performance of a motorcycle. While a larger and heavier vehicle may roll over hazards such as loose gravel or an uneven shoulder, these defects could cause a motorcyclist to lose control and crash. Roads may be bumpy from disrepair, construction or resurfacing work. Additionally, there may be excess gravel on the pavement from recent work or improvements. These can be particularly problematic when turning, particularly on winding roads.

Dirt or Sand

You may not think twice about driving over dirt or sand in a standard passenger vehicle, but this is a potential crash risk for a motorcyclist. Motorcycles are not heavy enough to ride over patches of loose dirt or sand without running the risk of the tires spinning out and the motorcyclist losing control or laying his or her bike down. It does not take much for a motorcycle to lose stability and traction when riding over sand, dirt or debris. The same is true if a motorcyclist encounters patches of ice.

Small Potholes or Cracks

While potholes are not unique only to motorcyclists and can cause larger cars to crash, as well, a motorcyclist is even at risk when riding across small potholes or cracks in the road. No matter how small the indentation or divot, it can cause a motorcycle’s tire tread to catch or trip, possibly leading to a loss of vehicle control. In some cases, striking a pothole could also cause a motorcyclist’s tire to pop, leading to a tire blowout accident.

Road Joints

When designing, building and maintaining a roadway, it is important for all joints to be even to create a smooth, seamless surface. An uneven joint can be perilous for a motorcycle rider. One example is an expansion joint, which can connect two sections of a road or connect a road to a bridge. Another example is open bridge joints, which hold multiple sections of a bridge together. While it might cause a bumpy ride in a car, it can be difficult to navigate for a motorcycle rider and even cause an accident, in some cases.

Edge Breaks

An edge break occurs when two lanes of traffic are at different heights. They often occur on freeway construction sites, which can pose a dangerous problem for a motorcycle rider. A motorcyclist may not notice the edge break until the tire of the bike strikes the uneven road surface and is pulled left or right, potentially causing the motorcyclist to lose control of the vehicle. Proper warning signs regarding uneven road surfaces in construction zones can help protect motorcyclists from this hazard.

Crossing Animals

When an animal runs in front of a car in the road, experts suggest hitting it and not attempting to swerve around it, since the animal will not cause injury, but evasive maneuvers might. On a motorcycle, however, even hitting a small animal can throw you off balance and swerving to avoid them may cause serious injury as well.

Slick Surfaces

Roadways may become too slippery to navigate, even after a light rain. While a car will likely be unaffected by mildly inclement weather, a motorcycle can become unstable even in misty conditions. Standing water or ice on the road presents even more danger for motorcyclists. A slick surface can also be created by discarded grass clippings in the road from a lawn mower. Running over these grass clippings can lead to a total loss of control of the motorcycle, especially when going around a curve.

Who is Liable for a Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Road Hazard?

Motorcyclists must use extra caution when on the road and stay alert for any potential hazard or defect that could cause an accident. Even seemingly innocuous road features can be hazardous to a motorcycle rider. If you get injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a road hazard, consult with a West Virginia motorcycle accident attorney about your options for seeking financial compensation.

Unlike a typical motorcycle accident case that involves a driver, you will not have another driver’s insurance company to turn to for financial coverage. If it can be proven that the city or state government in West Virginia should have done more to prevent your accident with proper road maintenance and upkeep, however, you may be able to file a claim against the agency responsible.

A motorcycle accident attorney can help you go up against a government entity in pursuit of financial compensation for your medical bills and vehicle repairs after a crash caused by a road defect. If you were injured because of a defect on privately owned property, such as a private driveway, a lawyer can go up against the owner of the property for negligent road maintenance instead. Contact an attorney at Manchin Injury Law today for more information about this type of crash case.