The Hurt Report on Motorcycle Accidents

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January 21, 2019
Edward Smith

The Hurt Report on Motorcycle Accidents

In today’s age, people rely on their motor vehicles for almost everything. They help people get around town, go to work, attend school, and so much more. Too often, people take their vehicles for granted and assume that they, and those around them, have the driving skills to keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Car accidents are actually widespread and often lead to injuries or even fatalities. Every year, numerous families are left devastated because they had a loved one seriously injured or killed. Sometimes, these serious injuries could lead to complications that last the rest of someone’s life. According to some of the statistics that were recently published by the AAA:

  • Over the past few years, the total number of miles driven by people in the United States has increased by 2 percent.
  • Despite the relatively small increase, the number of drivers who are involved in accidents (according to police reports) has actually increased by 5 percent.
  • In addition, the number of fatal accidents has increased by about 9 percent.
  • Young drivers, specifically those under the age of 18 have the highest rates of accidents overall and accidents that lead to injuries.
  • The highest rate of death in motor vehicle accidents occurs in people who are over the age of 80.

These numbers should demonstrate the importance of discussing safety behind the wheel, particularly with teenagers. Even though car accidents can lead to injuries and death, motorcycle accidents are even more serious. There are a handful of factors that make motorcycle collisions more dangerous than typical accidents involving passenger vehicles.

Why are Motorcycle Accidents More Dangerous?

Many people have driven down the road and probably felt the feeling of dread and despair when looking at the scene of a terrible accident. People might even wonder whether or not someone was injured or killed. This feeling is often magnified when a motorcycle is involved. This is because most people know that motorcycle accidents carry with them a higher risk of injury and death. There are several reasons, which include:

  • People who ride motorcycles are harder to see, meaning that drivers are more likely to strike them without knowing that they are there.
  • Motorcycles are harder to balance than a four-wheeled car, meaning that it is easier to lose control.
  • Without a windshield or roof, people who ride motorcycles are at a greater risk of being battered by the elements.
  • There is a lack of a protective metal frame between the rider and the pavement, meaning that riders often suffer more severe injuries as a result of falling from their motorcycle at high speeds.

In order to increase the public’s level of understanding of motorcycle accidents and their severe nature, the government commissioned an extensive study on motorcycle accidents. This was called the Hurt Report, and many of its findings are still valid today. The researchers were charged with analyzing all of the reported motorcycle collisions in the United States to try to draw conclusions based on patterns and trends. The goal was to identify actionable measures that could be implemented to try and reduce the frequency and severity of motorcycle collisions.

The Hurt Report: An Overview

The Hurt Report is an extensive study on motorcycle safety that was done in the United States throughout several years. The study was named after the professor who was in charge of the research process, Harry Hurt and has been described as one of the most comprehensive studies on the safety of motorcycles ever recorded.

The report was initially commissioned by the Department of Transportation, specifically the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). This government organization contracted with the University of South California, partnering with their Traffic Safety Center. It was there that they met Harry Hurt, who was a professor at USC at the time.

As a result of this extensive report, the public gained a large amount of knowledge regarding the causes of motorcycle accidents. Many of the collisions were caused by a simple failure to spot the motorcycle in the first place, leading to a violation of the right of way of the rider. It was also out of this study that the first recommendations regarding motorcycle helmets were released. Harry Hurt, after retiring from the University of Southern California, went on to establish a new head protection research laboratory. That laboratory is still located in Paramount, California.

The Hurt Report: The Procedure

Professor Hurt put together a large team of investigators, who also ride motorcycles. He looked at the various scenes of motorcycle accidents throughout Los Angeles and elsewhere. This took place over a two-year period. In some cases, he examined the investigations at the site of the crash. In other scenarios, he looked at the police reports of the accidents. He was certain to examine accidents that took place at different times of day, to ensure that he got an accurate sample. In total, he reviewed thousands of motorcycle collisions and analyzed them thoroughly. He even included motorcycle collisions that involved striking a passing animal.

After he collected his data, he studied each individual accident. In total, there were more than 1,000 data points for each particular crash. Examples of his accident factors include photos of the damage to the motorcycle, the skid marks from the crash, scrape marks on the side of the vehicle, injuries that individuals had suffered, and interviews of the crash survivors. Furthermore, numerous motorcycle riders even donated their helmets to the research team so that they could be studied. The researchers looked at the points of impact, disassembled the helmets, photographed the damage on the inside, and recorded the helmet damage as a crucial part of their study.

Findings of the Hurt Report

Of course, the meat of the study comes from the findings and ultimately recommendations stemming from the Hurt Report. The researchers released dozens of proposals that are still in use today. Without a doubt, these recommendations have saved the lives of countless people and have led to a paradigm shift in the way that motorcycle safety is taught and enforced. Some of the most important recommendations and findings include:

  • Close to 75 percent of the motorcycle collisions involved another motor vehicle which, typically, was a passenger car.
  • The other 25 percent of motorcycle accidents were single-vehicle collisions where the motorcycle struck an obstacle in the environment.
  • Failure of the motorcycle was a factor in around 3 percent of accidents, with the most common issue being a flat tire.
  • Rider error was the main cause of single-vehicle accidents, with the rider losing balance and suffering a slide-out accident.
  • In about 2 percent of accidents, defects of the road led to the crash.
  • Stray animals were contributing factors in around 1 percent of accidents.
  • In two-thirds of accidents involving motorcycles, the driver of the other vehicle did not see the motorcycle and violated their right of way, leading to a collision.
  • This failure of drivers to both spot, detect, and appropriately adjust for motorcycles is the most common reason why collisions involving motorcycles occur.
  • The most common way that this occurred was when the car attempted to make a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle, often resulting in rider ejection from his or her vehicle.
  • This makes intersections the most dangerous place for motorcycle riders, as this is the most common location of a violation of the right of way.
  • During this report, only forty percent of riders were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.
  • Helmet usage rates were lowest among young riders and riders without a valid license.

In the end, these findings don’t mean anything if people don’t change the way that they ride and drive. It is important for everyone to heed the recommendations and conclusions from the Hurt Report. It could save a life. Ultimately, there are several simple safety tips that motorcycle riders and drivers should follow on a daily basis. This could prevent a serious accident from occurring.

Safety Tips For Motorcycle Riders

Ultimately, it is incumbent on both motorcycle riders and the drivers around them to keep them safe. By focusing on the road ahead and taking the proper safety precautions, serious injuries and deaths stemming from motor vehicle accidents could be avoided. Some of the safety tips that riders should follow include:

  • Everyone who is riding a motorcycle should have the proper training needed to handle this vehicle.
  • This could consist of earning a separate certification.
  • Many states have universal helmet laws that need to be followed.
  • Regardless of the laws, every rider should wear a helmet every time the motorcycle is mounted.
  • When possible, try to avoid riding a bike in inclement weather because this can make it harder to see.
  • In addition, wet pavement reduces the friction between the tires and the pavement, which can make it hard to control the vehicle, particularly around curves.
  • Do not lane-split under any circumstances as this increases the likelihood of a serious accident occurring.
  • Always wear bright-colored clothing so that other drivers can spot the motorcycle easily.
  • Always obey the post speed limits, never ride a motorcycle while intoxicated, and do not try to text and ride a bike.

Despite the best of intentions, serious motorcycle collisions can still occur. In many situations, these motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries and even death. Some of these injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, bone fractures, and organ damage, could impact someone for the rest of his or her life.

Watch YouTube Video: 8 Quick Motorcycle Safety Tips You Should Know. The video below provides some quick motorcycle safety tips to follow while riding.

Contacting a Personal Injury Law Firm

Unfortunately, if someone is involved in a severe motorcycle accident, the risk of injury and death is much higher. Many people require surgery for injuries that they suffer in a crash. When this happens, this impacts not only the individual but also the entire family. In this situation, it is helpful to speak with a motorcycle accident attorney in Sacramento. An experienced injury attorney can provide much-needed assistance by:

  • Working with trained accident professionals to recreate what happened at the scene of the accident.
  • Taking a look at this simulation and the police records to make sure that the liability in the accident has been properly assigned.
  • Acting as a calming presence, helping families review all of their options before making a decision.
  • Negotiating claims with insurance companies to help families receive the maximum payout allowed under the insurance policy.
  • Helping individuals and their family members pursue damages that are related to the injuries that they sustained in the collision.

This is a stressful process that no family should ever have to go through on their own. Under these circumstances, it is important to take the time to discuss the case with a motorcycle accident attorney in Sacramento. You and your family could be deserving of a financial reward.

Best Motorcycle Accident Attorney in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a motorcycle accident attorney in Sacramento. It is important for everyone to take a look at the research and heed the warnings of the statistics. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered serious injuries, call me at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

You can see our verdicts or settlements here.

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The Hurt Report on Motorcycle Accidents:

Image Attribution: The photo at the start of this article is seen in its original form on Pixabay. The image has been reproduced here with permission/The Hurt Report on Motorcycle Accidents.

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