Motorcycle Road Hazards
Typically, motorcycles do not maneuver well on any surface besides dry pavement. There are a number of motorcycle road hazards and road conditions that often prove to be too hazardous for motorcycle travel and cause accidents to happen. Here are some examples:
Berms or low road shoulders
A berm is an unpaved road shoulder that sometimes dips slightly below road level. If a motorcyclist is traveling too close to the shoulder, they may lose control if they cross over the edge.
Black ice forms when it water settles, the temperature drops below freezing, and there is poor drainage alongside the road. As difficult as it is to handle a car through these conditions, it is especially harsh on a motorcycle. The organization responsible for the road’s upkeep or the owner of the land containing the source of the water (if it was not caused by rain) may be held liable for any accidents and injuries that occur under the circumstances.
Oil and chip roadways
In the interest of saving money, some government enterprises choose to resurface roads with a petroleum mixture covered with an aggregate base as opposed to using a one inch thick asphalt bituminous mixture. This is known as an oil and chip procedure. Each year, a number of these roads present a hazard for bikers because the aggregate material erodes. This leaves a petroleum base that becomes very slick when hot and wet. Motorcyclists should watch out for these areas as they approach a bend in the road.
There are times when motorcycle crashes happen as a result of fixed objects being located in the rider’s path. Examples include telephone poles, trees, narrow bridge abutments lacking sufficient paddle signs, and exposed culverts or drainage ditches.
On busy four-lane highways, design protocol calls for a concrete barrier at least 30 inches high in some areas. It is a cause for concern when medians four to eight inches tall are used to separate the traffic on one side from the oncoming traffic on the other. If a motorcycle runs into one of these shorter barriers, the bike may go airborne and even flip over.
By law, construction zones must be set up according to specific safety rules laid down by the state government. When workers fail to follow the code and position signs in a confusing manner, accidents may occur. Workers are often injured or killed in these kinds of accidents as well.
Poorly marked roads
Too often, dangerous roadways do not contain the proper signage to caution drivers before it’s too late. Potentially hazardous roads should forewarn motorists of sharp turns with yellow advisory signs showing the curvature of the lane and a reduced speed limit. These are especially necessary at night when visibility is limited. White lines highlighting the outer edge of the road can be very helpful in the dark as well because your headlights will pick them up to give you ample time to adjust.
Some intersections do not appear to be well thought out based on where they are positioned (e.g., at the summit of a steep incline). If a driver cannot see traffic coming from a fair distance in each direction, there should be mirrors installed to assist the motorcyclist with vision well beyond the peak of the hill. It should also be taken into consideration whether any fixed objects such as a tree, utility pole, or a business’ sign blocks the biker’s line of sight.
Potholes can be very harmful to bikers if they are moving at a high rate of speed and are unaware of the hazard ahead. Motorcycles do not have the capability to handle potholes the same way an automobile can simply because their tires are so much thinner, and they are unable to distribute the brunt of the impact the way that the wheels of a car can.
A rut is a sunken track or groove in the pavement created by the constant passage of vehicles over the same path. Severe rutting will take place if it has been more than a decade since a road was resurfaced. Roads like these are inclined to cause vehicles to hydroplane if it is traveling above 40 miles per hour. Motorcycles are particularly prone to hydroplaning because they are so lightweight and cannot provide the traction that a car or truck can.
Slippery when wet warnings
As you are driving, you’ve probably notice precautionary signs that say “slippery when wet.” These should be taken seriously because a sign of this nature signifies that a test performed on that section of the roadway has shown that it does not meet the standard requirements for skid resistance. Ignoring these and speeding through that strip of road may result in the loss of control of your motorcycle. In the event you have an accident in one of these areas, and it can be proven you were following the suggested speed limit, there may be reason to take action against the entity responsible for road maintenance. This may be enough evidence that the road is unfit for traffic in its current state.
If you or a loved-one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, we would be happy to review and evaluate your case. Please call us at 615-844-4034 or complete the Case Submission Form to the right.