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4 ways that motorcycle accidents happen

You get your first motorcycle. It's a day you've dreamed of for a good 10 years, and you're excited. You put on your gear, check the weather, and stand in the driveway looking at the bike.

It's then that it dawns on you just how little protection a bike has. It's different when you're facing the open road, not just practicing. If you're in an accident, you could be seriously hurt. And that accident very well may not be your own fault. Below are four ways that these crashes tend to happen:

1. A car merges into your lane.

The driver doesn't see you. Maybe he or she doesn't check, just glancing at the mirror. The bike is so much smaller than the cars that are normally in the road that the driver doesn't even register that it's there and merges into the side of the bike.

In an optimal situation, you have space and time to slam on the brakes. However, if there is traffic behind you, there may be little you can do to avoid the crash.

2. The car cuts through your lane during a left-hand turn.

Motorcycle riders fear this accident since it happens so often. A car is coming toward you and the driver slows to let traffic pass before turning left, through the lane. He or she never sees the bike, though, thinking there is a gap. The car turns right in front of you while you're riding at full highway speed.

This type of wreck can be deadly. You may even be watching the car, but you assume the driver is also watching you and waiting for you. You don't know until a split second before the crash that he or she has no idea you're there.

3. Another rider follows directly behind you and hits you.

Bikers who ride in groups tend not to ride in single file, but they'll stagger themselves so that the bikes take up more width in the lane and aren't all directly in front of one another. This way, a simple mistake -- a rider whose thoughts are wandering, for instance -- doesn't lead everyone into a crash. However, you're new to this. Your friends may be, too. If you're riding with others and they forget how to use the right formation, they could hit you.

4. A car rear-ends you.

Rear-end accidents involving cars and SUVs can be all but impossible to avoid. You're sitting at a stoplight. You're watching that Ford Explorer come up behind you, but the driver doesn't see the bike. Maybe it's the height and size difference. Maybe he or she is checking a text message. Either way, the vehicle hits you hard from behind and you find yourself lying on the pavement in what's left of your motorcycle.

These are just four examples, and they shouldn't make you think riding your motorcycle is a bad idea. It can be terrific and you should feel excited about the new bike. However, you also need to know the risks and your legal options if you're injured.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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