The Most Dangerous Time to Ride a Motorcycle

Motorcyle driver on the road

As the seasons change from summer into fall and the sun sits lower in the sky, it is important to be more aware of the driving hazards caused by glare. Morning and evening rush hours can become suddenly more dangerous if you round a curve and find yourself staring directly into the sun sitting low in the sky. For many people in the Triangle, that is a common experience on the standard I-40 commute.

Visibility is a factor for motorcyclists, whose vehicles are smaller than others on the road. After a crash, automobile drivers often say they never saw the motorcycle. Motorcycle riders know they take a risk whenever they ride. At this time of year, it’s good to review the times of day when it’s most and least dangerous to ride a motorcycle.

When Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Occur?

About 60% of fatal motorcycle accidents occur in daylight and in urban areas, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics. Almost all of the fatal motorcycle accidents in 2017 (97%) occurred in “cloudy/clear conditions,” as opposed to in rain or fog.

The NHTSA analysis is based on data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which contains data on every fatal traffic crash in the 50 states. To be included, a crash must involve a motor vehicle traveling on a public road and must result in the death of a vehicle occupant or a nonoccupant within 30 days of the crash.

Understanding Motorcycle Crash Risks

Of the 5,172 motorcyclist fatalities that occurred in 2017, 2,673 happened between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 2,492 happened on weekends (6 p.m. Friday to 5:59 a.m. Monday).

A breakdown of the same numbers by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says more than 42% of motorcycle fatalities in 2017 happened between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. weekdays and weekends.

The most dangerous times to ride a motorcycle, according to the numbers, were 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays (632 fatalities, 23.6% of the weekday total) and 6 to 9 p.m. weekends (609, 24.4% of the weekend total).

The fewest fatal accidents occurred between 3 and 6 a.m. weekdays (100 motorcyclists killed, or 3.7% or weekday totals) and 6 to 9 a.m. weekends (66 deaths, 2.6%).

Motorcyclists are more likely to die in accidents after drinking on weekends than on weekdays. Of 4,885 motorcycle drivers (not including passengers) killed in crashes in 2017, 28% were alcohol-impaired. They had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more. Of those alcohol-impaired motorcycle operators, 788 died from weekend crashes and 566 died after weekday accidents.

All in all, the numbers tell us what we might expect:

  • Fatal motorcycle accidents are more likely to happen in times of heavy traffic, such as weekday afternoons.
  • Weekend evenings, when motorcyclists may be socializing and potentially drinking alcohol, are also among the most hours of the week to ride a motorcycle.
  • Motorcyclists tend to ride in clear weather and not in rain and fog, which would logically be a dangerous time to ride a motorcycle.

What to Do to Be Safe on a Motorcycle

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by multiple motorcycle manufacturers. It is dedicated to research-based rider education and offers technical assistance to state training and licensing programs.

Among the foundation’s resources are these motorcycle safety tips:

Be visible

  • Keep your headlight on day and night to be more visible. Motorcycles sold in the U.S. since the late 1970s automatically have the headlight on when running.
  • Use reflective strips or decals on your clothing and on your motorcycle.
  • Use lane positioning to see and be seen.
  • Avoid cars’ and trucks’ blind spots. The danger of a motorcycle accident increases when in another vehicle’s blind spot.
  • Use your turn signals and hand signals for all turns and lane changes.
  • Attract attention by flashing your brake light when you are slowing down.
  • Wear bright or light-colored clothing and helmet to increase your chances of being seen.

Use proper gear

  • Wear a quality helmet and eye protection. A full-face helmet is the best protection. A brightly colored helmet can also increase your visibility.
  • Wear leather or other sturdy, protective jackets and pants, gloves and over-the-ankle boots.

How to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents

Always ride with safety in mind.

  • Ride as if you’re invisible. Constantly search the road ahead and around you for changing traffic conditions. Assess and respond to hazards before you have to react to an emergency.
  • Watch for vehicles that may turn across your path, especially at intersections.
  • Give yourself space and time as you search for escape paths.
  • Give other motorists time and space to respond to you.
  • Don’t ride when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Know and follow the rules of the road.
  • Know your bike and ride within your skill level and situational capabilities.

Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help

The Raleigh motorcycle accident lawyers at Hardison & Cochran know that being in a collision with a car or truck can be devastating for a motorcyclist. About 80% of motorcycle crashes result in serious injury, versus 20% of car crashes.

When a motorcycle accident has been caused by another driver’s negligence, we work with the injured motorcyclist and/or their family to seek compensation for the injuries and losses. The types of compensation that may be available include money for medical expenses, lost wages, motorcycle repair or replacement, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other expenses.

About three-fourths of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. In most cases, the motorcyclist had the right-of-way at the time of the accident. Hardison & Cochran’s motorcycle accident attorneys can investigate your accident, calculate the full extent of your losses, and aggressively seek all of the compensation available by law.

Contact our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys today for assistance with a case in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, the Triad, Fayetteville, the Sandhills, Wilmington or Southeastern North Carolina. Call us toll-free at 800-434-8399 now or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free discussion of your legal options.