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SMIDSY biggest cause of motorbike crashes

Cause crash US study

It is no surprise that the biggest single cause of crashes is the fact that motorists don’t look for riders, according to a US study.

The 2017 US Motorcycle Crash Causation Study was only conducted in Orange Country, California.

However, the Oklahoma State University study seems to have similar results to other crash studies around the world.Cause crash US study


One of the main findings was that a failure by the other vehicle driver involved is attributed to 51% of motorcycle crashes.

Of those crashes, 70% was attributed to “traffic scanning errors” by the other vehicle driver.

It’s no surprise to those who have heard of SMIDSY (sorry mate, I didn’t see you).

That’s why more needs to be done to educate motorists to look for riders.

Two out of every three accidents (66.7%) occur at intersections and 17% at driveways (home and commercial properties).

That accounts for the high number of SMIDSY crashes.

SMIDSY cause crashes
Maurice Blackburn support SMIDSY awareness

The study says that 48% of multi-vehicle crashes were the result of a turn by the motorcycle or other vehicle.

Rider at fault

A failure by the rider was deemed the primary cause in 44.3% of all crashes.

Of those, unsafe acts by the rider cause 50% of crashes and inadequate rider control skills contribute to 26%.

The remaining 4.7% of crash causes are environmental, such as road conditions or stray animals.

Curve crashes

Just over a third (34%) of all motorcycle crashes occur on curves. That would account for many of the sole vehicle accidents.

However, another vehicle crossing over the white line but not hitting the motorcycle may have been the cause.

In these cases, riders swerving to miss a vehicle may be erroneously attributed to rider fault.

The study also falls into the usual trap of looking at the increase in motorcycle c rashes without also referring to the increase in ownership.


  1. It is very important to remember that when at fault in a road accident most people will tell lies. They will say anything that they think will help their case. Many (possibly the majority) of the times when someone says, “Sorry mate I didn’t see you” they are lying. The truth is, “I thought, it’s only a motorcycle and I won’t get hurt so I’ll take the risk.”

    A good demonstration of this is the behaviour of people driving large 4WDs with bullbars. From my experience, they are some of the biggest risk takers on the roads. But they don’t risk their own lives. They risk the lives of anyone who has a vehicle smaller than theirs. They are, by far, the most common offenders in tailgating, and are more likely to pull out too early at intersections creating a ‘near miss’. The problem is that it only takes a slight misjudgement for a ‘near miss’ to become an accident. I’ve spent a lot of my life living in the bush and am well aware of the need for heavy 4WDs with big bullbars. Anybody who thinks that these vehicles or bullbars should be banned is ignorant. And I’m not suggesting that the drivers of these vehicles are bad people. Put other drivers in the same type of vehicle and many of them would behave the same. I’m just using 4WDs as an example to demonstrate the attitude problem that causes many of the accidents that the offenders say was caused by SMIDSY.

    The best thing to do about this is to have very severe penalties, including long licence suspensions, for any driver who collides with a motorcycle. If they are only going to be concerned about whether they will get hurt, then we have to make the penalties really hurt, so out of self interest they will do everything the can to avoid colliding with a motorcycle. There would also need to be a large advertising campaign informing drivers that if they hurt a motorcyclist they too will be badly hurt by the penalties. That is what is needed to make them take notice of us, and is one of the most effective things the authorities could do to lower the motorcycle death toll.

    And remember; – Cars kill motorcyclists. Motorcycles don’t kill car drivers.

    1. There is something I will call the Volvo factor, this is a psychological phenomenon where the perceived safety of a vehicle not only attracts bad drivers but makes them worse. Like wearing rose coloured glasses the drivers perception of reality is warped by the perceived safety of the vehicle, they think because they have a safe vehicle they are being safe their driving is safe anything they do is safe, they’re drunk on safety and a drunk driver is the most dangerous driver. Remember the guy who felt so safe in his Tesla that he watched a movie till the end!
      Lowering speed limits is also adding to this phenomenon. You get I going so slow I can’t hurt anyone so it’s safe to play with my phone or do makeup mentally. Soon our roads and vehicles will be so safe they’ll be deadly.

      1. Your comments on Volvo drivers are always interesting & quite perceptive. Wish they could penetrate the dull minds of road safety “experts”.

        1. Thrust of MotoRain’s comment is spot on, except for idea of increased penalties for car drivers.

          A severe penalty does nothing to fix what has already happened, just creates a second victim.

          Attitudunal change of car drivers, traffic engineers (renowned for creating motorcycle hazards with white paint, cheesecutter wire & RipYourArms&LegsOff armco), safety authorities (notoriously anti-motorcycles) & police (even more so)
          is the solution.

          Traffic engineering, safety authorities & police aren’t the solution, they’re part of the problem.

          1. AliG, The problem is, some of them don’t care enough about us getting hurt. They only care about themselves getting hurt. Because of this they will take risks that for them will result in a dented car, but for us could mean serious injury of death. Sometimes the risks are intentional, such as tailgating. Sometimes they are negligence, such as not looking carefully enough to see a motorcycle. Having penalties that really hurt them, and making sure they are aware of it, gives them a big incentive to look out for us.

  2. It’s also worth noting that large majorities of critical and fatal injury crashes are single vehicle incidents (notwithstanding the potential contribution of other vehicles in some of those). This may seem counter-intuitive but is consistent with other studies – beware the roadside object as much as the other road user.

  3. Excellent comments from Motorain. I think he has hit the nail on the proverbial head.
    Mark, I am also pleased to see your reference to accidents potentially caused by drivers that impact on motorcyclist accidents statistics. I think that these accidents are possibly grossly underrated and serve the political purpose as reinforcing the perceived inherent dangers in riding a motorcycle.

  4. Accident statistics blaming motorcycles are nonsense.
    In this video
    link below
    a car failed to give way to a bike & caused an accident, but Transport Accident Commission Victoria & police are blaming the bike.

    The car
    was at a T intersection – has to give way to the bike
    was also at a stop sign (visible at 0.49) – has to gve way to a bike
    2 reasons to give way, but it didn’t.

    The car pulled out in front of the bike, bike hit car, rider had a wrecked bike & a cervical spine injury.
    2 causes.
    1. Car failed to give way.
    2. Engineering – stop sign is poorly placed & difficult for car to see.

    So whose fault is it?
    The bikes!

    TAC & police said skidmark analysis showed bike was travelling at exactly 68 km/hr.
    Speed determination by skidmark analysis is voodoo science.
    1. For a start, how do you know that skidmark was left by that motorcycle? It may have already been there
    which is quite feasable because it is a dangerous intersection – stop sign hard to see.
    2. TAC say bike was travelling at exactly 68 ks – can’t calculate that from a skidmark, so many unknown variables – tyre compound, tyre pressure, tyre temp. road temp, grippiness of road surface, rider weight distribution, amount of braking (if any) done by front etc.
    3. TAC says bike would have missed car if travelling slower – you don’t know that either, good chance it wouldn’t have actually.

    A car failing to give way as required by a stop sign & T intersection is indisputable fact.
    The car was in the wrong, the engineering was in the wrong, so they blamed the bike.

    1. I watched that insulting load of BS and you’re right it had nothing to do with how fast the rider was going especially the bit where the car is avoided the bike looked to be doing 40 or less not sixty. But the real kicker is it looked like he only used the back brack to skid that far and not stop. I have had the back wheel so far off the ground doing an emergency stop that you could limbo under it and under the exact same conditions but from 80 kph and with less warning I still stopped a foot from the idiot. So the only message of any value in that stupid load of utter tripe is learn how to emergency stop and avoid idiots not slow down to some ridiculous slow speed that has nothing to do with idiots pulling out on you.

  5. Just a side note in case you don’t know.
    There is a rule written or not that you have to make an effort to avoid an accident. I have often wanted to just run into the idiot that does something stupid but aside from the hassle of dealing with the results of such an accident there is the chance that I would be deemed at fault even when in the right.
    Payouts for compensation can be severely reduced if you are considered to have contributed to the accident and insurance company lawyers will try every trick they can to get out of paying this is the other reason people lie when at fault they are told to by their insurance company.

  6. SMIDSY is not a *cause*
    SMIDSY is an *excuse*

    Negligence of some type is almost always the cause.

  7. So now that you all know what causes the crashes what can a rider do to reduce the risk of a crash with another vehicle?

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