Which vehicle stops faster: motorcycles or cars? Given the size of each vehicle, the answer is somewhat obvious.
The smaller a vehicle is, the less distance it needs to stop after the operator has perceived danger and applied the brakes.
However, given the reduced maneuverability of a motorcycle when compared to four-wheeled vehicle types, the answer is not as simple as it appears.
Read on for more information about why this is. If a motorcycle accident injured you because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, contact a motorcycle accident attorney for more information about how to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury.
Do Motorcycles Stop Faster Than Cars?
Motorcycles vary widely in size and weight, depending on the type of bike you ride. However, by and large, they’re lighter than other types of vehicles. The average weight of a motorcycle is around 700 pounds, while the average weight of a car is slightly more than 4,000 pounds, though this average takes into consideration all types of vehicles classified as “cars,” including subcompact cars which can weigh less than 2,500 pounds to large cars, weighing more than 4,400 pounds.
The heavier a vehicle is, the longer the distance the vehicle needs to stop.
However, other factors also affect stopping distance for motorcycles and other vehicle types, such as:
- The speed at which the vehicle is traveling. Speed also increases the distance that a vehicle needs to come to a complete stop, while simultaneously reducing the time the driver has to perceive danger.
- The area of contact between the vehicle’s tires and the road. Certain smaller vehicles with a lower center of gravity and a thicker tire can stop faster than motorcycles simply because the four thicker tires of the car are better able to grip the road than the two thinner tires found on motorcycles.
- The traction of the tires. New or well-maintained tires will require less distance for the vehicle to stop, as new tread can grip the road better. On the flip side: bald tires will result in a longer stopping distance as they lack the tread needed to pull the vehicle to a stop.
- Whether the brakes are properly manufactured, installed, and maintained.
- Whether there is water, gravel, or other debris on the roadway that can affect traction.
The Dangers Involved in Sudden Braking on a Motorcycle
While motorcycles often can stop faster than cars, it takes skill to safely stop a motorcycle. Motorcycles have maneuverability issues because they have two wheels rather than four.
Failing to brake properly can cause the motorcycle to skid.
Some reasons that motorcyclists must brake suddenly when riding include:
- Left-turning drivers who fail to see them approaching straight through an intersection on a green light.
- Occupants of parked vehicles who open a door in the motorcyclist’s path.
- Distracted, speeding, or impaired drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way to the motorcyclist at intersections.
Often, drivers who cause accidents with motorcyclists will say something to the effect of: “I didn’t even see him/her coming.” While it sounds like a convenient excuse—and does not relieve the driver of liability for the accident—there may be some truth to the assertion, due to a condition known as inattentional blindness.
Inattentional blindness is not a medical condition, but rather the way the brain processes information, prioritizing the largest dangers the individual faces while failing to notice smaller risks. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, they are rarely high on the list of priority risks for drivers on roadways with other vehicle types, including SUVs, city buses, and tractor-trailers.
The Types of Injuries Commonly Sustained in Sudden-Brake Motorcycle Accidents
When a motorcyclist brakes suddenly, the most likely adverse outcome is skidding. Skidding takes away any control the rider has, leaving both the motorcycle and a rider’s body open to colliding with any obstacles in the area.
Some injuries commonly suffered in this type of accident include:
- Road rash. Also known as a friction burn, road rash is an injury that results from the skin making contact with a rough surface, such as asphalt. This results in the skin being scraped, sloughed, or even torn away. Road rash on sensitive parts of the body such as the hands, feet, face, or genitals, or objects embedded in the wound presents an increased risk of complications such as life-threatening infection or significant scarring.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Losing control of the motorcycle in an emergency braking situation can result in the rider striking their head against the roadway or other obstacles. The brain often can’t heal from traumatic damage, which can cause permanent disabilities that can affect an individual’s ability to earn an income, live independently, and freely participate in community or recreational events.
- Spinal cord injuries. The spinal cord is generally protected by the bones and cushioning of the spinal vertebrae and discs. However, the violence of a motorcycle accident can render that protection insufficient as the individual strikes the ground or collides with a car or other objects. Spinal cord injuries often result in a loss of sensation and function below the injury, which is known as paralysis and is almost always permanent.
Obtaining Compensation for Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle accidents claim the lives of more than 5,000 people in the U.S. each year and cause serious or even catastrophic injuries for thousands more.
As you likely know, drivers of motor vehicles in states like Florida must purchase a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for medical expenses and wage loss that they experience in a traffic accident, regardless of fault. While you can seek compensation through the PIP policy on your car if you are injured in an accident while walking or riding your bike, your PIP policy will not cover injuries you sustain while riding a motorcycle.
If a motorcycle accident injured you because of someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, call a motorcycle accident lawyer.
These lawsuits usually begin with a demand package that your attorney sends to the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. This demand package outlines the details of your accident and shows the value of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have incurred.
When the insurance adjuster receives the demand package from your attorney, they have three options:
- Accept liability for the claim and issue payment.
- Deny the claim and send a notice to the claimant stating the reason for the denial.
- Offer a lower amount that the insurance company would be willing to pay to resolve the claim.
The claim will often enter the phase of settlement negotiations, in which your attorney will work on obtaining a fair settlement offer on your behalf. However, if the defendant refuses to provide a fair settlement offer, your lawyer can file a motorcycle accident lawsuit in court.
The Type of Compensation You Can Seek
Individuals injured by motorcycle accidents caused by someone else’s actions can seek to recover both economic and non-economic damages. In layman’s terms, recovering damages means obtaining compensation for harm.
Economic damages involve compensation for the expenses of your injury, such as:
- All reasonable medical expenses, including ambulance transport, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of crutches, a wheelchair, or other devices designed to assist you in accommodating your injury.
- Lost wages if your injury caused you to miss work.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury resulted in permanent disabilities and you can no longer earn what you did before the accident.
- Property damage resulting from the accident, such as the cost of repairing and replacing your motorcycle and gear.
Non-economic damages involve compensation for the impacts your injury has had on your quality of life, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering resulting from the injury, complications arising from the injury, and particularly painful treatments required in caring for the injury.
- Emotional distress resulting from the injury and its associated impacts, such as the inability to work.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if the injury prevents you from participating in activities and events that were an important part of your life before the accident.
Proving Liability: The Foundation of Your Claim
For a successful outcome to your motorcycle accident claim, you must prove that your accident resulted from the negligent (careless or reckless) actions of someone else.
Common types of negligence that lead to motorcycle accidents include:
- The actions of other roadway users, including drivers of motor vehicles speed, text, or engage in other manual, visual, or cognitive driving distractions, are impaired by alcohol or drugs, or who are otherwise driving in an unsafe, illegal way.
- Motor vehicle occupants who open their doors into the paths of approaching motorcycles.
- The manufacturers of motorcycles or motorcycle parts if they fail to produce parts that are reasonably safe to use by the consumer when used according to labeled instructions.
Liability is a term that refers to the legal responsibility that someone—generally through an applicable insurance policy that they’ve purchased—has to compensate a victim of an accident they have caused for bodily injury and property damage. While some motorcycle accident cases involve intentional actions by the at-fault party, most are due to negligence.
To prove liability, you must show:
- The at-fault party had a duty of care, which refers to the actions that a reasonable person would take in a set of circumstances to avoid physically or financially harming others.
- A breach in the duty of care, which refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that differed from those of a reasonable person in the same circumstances. For example, the driver of a car has a duty of care to drive safely and in accordance with local traffic laws. Speeding, distracted driving, or impaired driving all constitute a breach of the duty of care owed to other roadway users, as these are not safe or legal activities.
- The breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injuries, and also caused you to incur financial and psychological impacts.
Motorcycle Didn’t Stop Fast Enough? Let a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help
If a motorcycle accident injured you because you could not stop fast enough to avoid colliding with a vehicle that wrongly entered your lane, a door that opened in your path, or malfunctioning brakes on your motorcycle, a motorcycle accident attorney can help you file a motorcycle accident claim.