Police statistics highlight elevated risks for motorcyclists in crashes

Shocking police statistics offer a vivid reminder of the heightened risks motorcyclists face in motor vehicle accidents. According to a recent CTV News story, Ontario Provincial Police investigated 326 fatal motorcycle crashes between 2012 and 2021, in which a total of 342 motorcyclists lost their lives.

Of those motor vehicle accidents, around 120 involved a single motorcycle, while police found the rider was at fault around 61 per cent of the time, compared with 39 per cent where the driver of another vehicle was responsible.

And while many of us tend to think of excessive speed and reckless lane changing as a young rider problem, the OPP stats suggest that there could be some unfair stereotyping going on. According to the police numbers, the demographic that accounted for the largest proportion of motorcyclist deaths on the roads in the last decade were those between 45 and 54 years old.

Vulnerable road users

The results may be skewed by the fact that the OPP patrols highways, where higher speeds are more likely to lead to fatalities. Still, the police findings fit with my experience in our personal injury practice, where the key factors in motorcycle accidents are speed, failure to yield the right of way and driver inattention.

Whatever the cause of a particular crash, these statistics and my own professional experience with motor vehicle accidents confirm that motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users.

While the metal and extensively tested safety equipment that surround car drivers give them some sense of security in the event of an accident, motorcyclists know that they have virtually no room for error with little more than a helmet and a layer of leather between them and the road.

Seasonal reorientation increases risk

Given the exceedingly high number of fatalities revealed by the police report and the fact that riders are at-fault in the majority of accidents, a case could be made for requiring regular additional training of motorcyclists as a condition of their licensing.

There is a good chance the seasonal nature of Canadian motorcycling plays a role in the elevated level of danger associated with the pastime. Since our climate effectively limits riders to about half of the year when they can get out on their bikes, there is an annual period of refamiliarization for rusty riders returning to the road when the risk of a crash is higher.

Still, a refresher would be helpful for all motor vehicle operators. Car drivers should also be on the lookout for motorcycles, especially as the first weekends of summer weather attract recreational riders back to the roads.  

Document everything

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, your first priority should be to assess your condition, and that of your passenger, if you have one.

There are few instances where riders who come off their bikes in an accident should skip a check-over from a doctor or other medical professional. Even if you feel fine, the adrenalin is likely to be pumping in the immediate aftermath of a crash, which means it could take some time for you to become aware of the full extent of your injuries.

Otherwise, the steps to take are similar to the aftermath of any other kind of motor vehicle accident. If it is safe, document any injuries and the accident scene, which may be some distance from where you end up, with photos. You could also save time and effort further down the line by asking nearby witnesses for their contact information in case your insurer questions your version of events.  

Another early call should be to an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who will fight to ensure you get the benefits and compensation you deserve. If you have been injured on a motorcycle in a motor vehicle accident, feel free to contact me or another member of the team at Edwards Pollard.

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