Driving a Car or Riding a Motorcycle: Which Is Safer?
Bill Allen | March 14, 2023 | Personal Injury
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), the Sunshine State has seen over 30,000 vehicle crashes so far this year. Those accidents have resulted in 265 fatalities. To zoom in a bit, 734 involved motorcycles, with 42 being fatal.
Beyond more recent statistics, a 2019 report ranked Florida’s drivers as the fourth worst in the United States. The report cites the lower number of insured drivers as one of the primary factors for the high ranking.
With these figures in mind, it makes sense why you would be more selective about what kind of vehicle you operate on Florida’s roads. If you love the feeling of riding a motorcycle, you might second-guess whether it’s safe to drive one. This post will weigh the risks of driving a car and motorcycle to determine which is safer.
The Stats at First Glance
The statistics show that the number of accidents involving motorists in cars is far greater than those solely involving motorcycles.
A senior researcher at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that motorists in other vehicles are often at fault when they collide with motorcycles.
Unfortunately, while the percentage of motorists in cars is statistically more responsible for accidents, those operating motorcycles are far more vulnerable. Even with Florida’s helmet law, the chances of being seriously injured by being thrown from a motorcycle are alarmingly high.
Motorcycle Riders Are More Vulnerable
If you ride motorcycles regularly, odds are that someone has told you to wear a helmet before.
This is good advice because there’s nothing on a motorcycle to protect you from your surroundings — it’s just you, the bike, and the road. Consequently, wearing proper attire and safety equipment is essential.
Wear a Helmet and Proper Clothing
Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between a concussion and permanent brain damage or worse. Similarly, wearing the appropriate clothing can make a huge difference if your body ever comes into contact with the pavement.
The Problem with Trucks
Unfortunately, motorcycles often don’t fare well against trucks. That’s because they’re small and provide minimal protection against impacts, while trucks are large and weigh thousands of pounds.
If a truck blows through an intersection while you’re going through a green light on your motorcycle, it’s not hard to predict what will happen.
Motorists and Cars
There’s no doubt that there are more car accidents across the country than motorcycle accidents. However, there’s also a much greater number of people operating cars than motorcycles, which skews the data.
Even so, it’s an indisputable fact that motorists operating cars are responsible for more accidents involving motorcycles.
Americans have cultivated some regrettable driving habits. Along with pervasive problematic behaviors like speeding and reckless and aggressive driving, many drivers use their phones while operating their vehicles, taking every opportunity to check a text message, change a song, or read an email.
What these people don’t realize is that these sorts of behaviors constitute distracted driving, which is illegal in Florida.
Distracted driving is a major problem across the United States. According to FLHSMV, 333 fatalities resulted from distracted driving in Florida in 2021. During that same year, FLHSMV claims there were an average of 1,000 crashes per week because of distracted drivers.
If you’re engaging in any of the following behaviors behind the wheel, it could be construed as distracted driving:
- Operating your phone in any way that causes your eyes to leave the road
- Eating and drinking
- Turning to look in the backseat or another part of the vehicle
- Getting lost in thought and failing to concentrate on the road
Performing any of these actions, even for just a few moments, can put yourself and other motorists at risk.
Why Distracted Driving Is Especially Dangerous for Motorcyclists
Picture this: you’re driving home from a long day at work. You’re starving and have just picked up some fast food. Naturally, the appetizing smell stimulates your brain, which in turn tells you to eat. You’ve just stopped at a red light, so you figure it’s safe to take a few bites.
As you lean over to fish a sandwich out of the bag in the seat beside you, you take your eyes off the road for a split second. In this brief instant, the light changes, and a motorcyclist enters the intersection. By the time you see them, there isn’t enough time to stop.
This heartbreaking scenario has become a reality for far too many Americans. What’s even more frustrating is that situations like these are completely avoidable.
To this point, FLHSMV has launched public awareness campaigns to educate motorists about distracted driving. Unfortunately, it remains a widespread issue because people often don’t realize they’re doing it.
Recent Accident Statistics in Florida
Here are a few of the most up-to-date car accident statistics for the State of Florida per the FLHSMV. In 2022, Florida saw the following:
- 390,700 vehicle crashes (including motorcycles)
- 248,724 injuries from all crashes
- 105,314 hit-and-run crashes
- 3,434 fatalities from all crashes
Sadly, many of these accidents could have been prevented with more vigilance.
Motorcycle Accidents in Florida
Motorcycle accidents comprise a small portion of the total number of Florida’s automotive accidents. However, even one injury is too many. Here are FLHSMV’s 2022 statistics for motorcycle and bicycle accidents in the state:
- 9,120 motorcycle crashes
- 581 motorcycle fatalities
- 7,108 bicycle crashes
- 209 bicycle fatalities
Notice the difference between bicycle and motorcycle numbers. Clearly, operating a motorcycle on the road carries a higher degree of risk. However, for a definitive answer as to whether a motorcycle or car is safer, the answer might be more relative than it seems.
Stay Safe on the Road, Whether You Drive a Car or Ride a Bike
Now that you’ve seen Florida’s accident statistics as they apply to cars and motorcycles, you’ll hopefully operate your vehicle a little more carefully without giving in to distracted driving and other dangerous habits.
Contact Our Gainesville Personal Injury Law Firm in North Central Florida
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Gainesville, FL 32608
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