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Is it Safer to Ride a Motorcycle on City Streets or the Highway?

August 29, 2023Motorcycle Accidents

The debate over where it is safer to ride a motorcycle—city streets or highways—often leads to divided opinions. However, there is a strong case to be made for the highway as a safer option for motorcyclists. Here is why.

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Fewer Intersections

One of the primary hazards on city streets is intersections. According to multiple studies, intersections are hot spots for accidents involving all types of vehicles, including motorcycles. Highways, with their limited access points and virtually no intersections in the traditional sense, reduce this particular risk significantly.

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Consistent Speed

The constant stopping and starting associated with city riding not only wears down the motorcycle but also increases the chances of rear-end collisions. Highways offer a consistent speed that can help riders maintain better control over their bikes and reduce the likelihood of certain types of crashes.

Less Complex Traffic Patterns

City streets often have buses, cyclists, pedestrians, and parked cars to worry about. Highways usually have simpler traffic patterns, allowing riders to focus more on their riding rather than continuously adapting to a changing environment. Sometimes these injuries can be devasting, if you’ve experienced a motor vehicle accident, call our Houston car accident lawyers.

Better Road Conditions

Highways are generally better maintained than city streets. They have fewer potholes, are more consistently lit, and have better signage, all contributing to a safer riding experience.

Greater Visibility

The openness of highways, along with fewer visual obstructions like buildings or parked cars, provides better visibility. This is particularly important for motorcyclists, as it allows them to see other vehicles better and makes them more visible to other motorists.

Fewer Sharp Turns

City streets can have sudden sharp turns that can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced riders. Highways usually have long, sweeping curves that are easier to navigate and less likely to lead to a loss of control.

Most Common Motorcycle Accidents

One of the most frequent types of motorcycle accidents is the left-turn collision, where a car turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle, often due to the driver’s failure to see the rider or accurately judge their speed. Rear-end collisions are also common, particularly in heavy traffic or at stoplights, where a car may not stop in time to avoid hitting a motorcycle from behind. Single-vehicle accidents involving motorcyclists losing control often occur on curves or during sudden braking. Road hazards like potholes, wet surfaces, or debris can also lead to crashes, particularly for motorcyclists since they have less stability than four-wheeled vehicles.

Where Do Most Motorcycle Fatalities Occur?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) latest statistics for 2021, 92% of motorcyclist fatalities occurred on non-interstate roads compared to 8% on interstates. Non-interstate roads often suffer from less frequent and lower-quality maintenance compared to their interstate counterparts. Potholes, uneven surfaces, and a lack of proper signage can make these roads hazardous for motorcyclists. Interstate highways are designed with multiple safety features, including better lane markings, rumble strips, and barriers between lanes.

Factors to Keep in Mind

While highways are statistically safer, they are not without risks. Higher speeds can lead to more severe accidents, and long stretches of road can lead to fatigue. It is also crucial for riders to keep an eye out for erratic drivers and be prepared for variable weather conditions that can appear over longer distances.