High-Risk Motorcyclist Actions

Throughout this site, motorcycle safety is discussed, and many examples of both fatal and non-fatal motorcycle accidents are summarized.  Through these Illinois motorcycle accidents and their accompanying injuries and fatalities, as well as through various statistics regarding motorcycle crashes in the state, one gains insights as to what actions by motorcyclists are “high risk” in nature.  In other words, actions are identified that may increase the probability that the motorcyclist becomes involved in a motorcycle crash.

Of course, it should be noted that a substantial portion of motorcycle accidents that occur in Illinois are not the fault of the motorcyclist, and instead blame has been placed on other parties, such as other motorists or other motorcyclists.  One of the primary causes of motorcycle accidents that are not the fault of the motorcycle rider is when a car or other vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn immediately in front of an oncoming motorcycle, and a collision occurs between the vehicle and the motorcyclist.

Of course, those accidents that have injured motorcyclists, but have not been their fault, have often led to Illinois motorcycle accident lawsuits, or, in the case of fatal motorcycle accidents, Illinois wrongful death lawsuits.

Here are various “high risk” motorcyclist actions, as seen in a variety of Illinois motorcycle accidents, Illinois motorcycle accident statistics, and other motorcycle rider safety resources.


Speeding is a primary cause of motorcycle accidents, as seen in the descriptions of many crashes.  Given the power of many modern motorcycles, and the ease in which high speeds can be quickly reached, high speeds on many motorcycles, especially sport bikes, are easily attainable.  For instance, it is not uncommon for fast motorcycles to go 0-60 in 3 seconds – if not less.  These powerful sport bikes also commonly do the quarter mile in the 10- and 11-second range, with top speeds at or above 150 mph.

Utilizing even significant portions of these levels of performance presents heightened risks for motorcyclists.  Among other types of risk, speeds well in excess of the speed limit heighten risk of motorcyclist loss of control which is further discussed on the “Motorcycle Loss Of Control” page.  As seen on that page, another aspect of speeding that has proven hazardous – and the source of many fatal Illinois motorcycle accidents – is traveling at high(er) speeds when going into a curve.  This often causes a loss of control.

Reckless Driving

Riding a motorcycle in a reckless manner is another way in which motorcyclists increase their risk of being in an accident.  This risk factor is prominently cited in the 2014 Illinois statistics regarding fatal motorcycle accidents, highlighted in the March 30, 2016 post titled “Frequently Cited Factors In Fatal Illinois Motorcycle Accidents.”  While “reckless driving” can encompass many types of motorcycle riding, some examples can include “wheelies” and other types of “stunting,” weaving between traffic, and other actions such as shoulder riding.

Another controversial traffic practice used by some motorcyclists is “lane-splitting.”

Drinking And Riding

Many Illinois motorcycle accidents involve riders who ride after drinking.  This factor is prominently mentioned in many statistics, including the 2014 fatal Illinois motorcycle accident statistics mentioned above.   These statistics indicate that such “riding after drinking” is common.  Of course, given inherent stability challenges in motorcycle riding, intoxication can be especially problematical.  As Illinois State Police (ISP) spokesman Trooper Calvin Dye Jr. says in the video seen in the bnd.com article of April 1, 2016, “motorcycles and alcohol do not mix.” [he also provides other ISP motorcycle safety tips]


The use of motorcycle helmets is not mandated by law (i.e. optional) for Illinois motorcyclists.  While wearing a helmet is not required by law, there are many reasons why riders may want to consider a helmet.  One reason is to dramatically lessen the possibility of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other type of head injury.   While such head trauma varies in severity, even mild concussions can have both short- and long-term impacts on one’s health.  More severe head impacts, if not fatal, can be devastating.  Also, not wearing a helmet seems to increase the possibility of being in a fatal motorcycle accident. As seen in the Illinois fatal motorcycle accident statistics for 2014:

  • Of the 118 motorcyclists killed in 2014, two (less than 2%) wore a DOT-compliant helmet, 33 (28%) wore a helmet unknown to be DOT-compliant, and 80 (68%) were not wearing a helmet.

Poorly Maintained Motorcycles

Like any other vehicle, motorcycles have to be properly maintained if they are to be reliable and safe.  If they are not properly maintained, the risk of potential accidents caused by mechanical failures or other maintenance issues increases.  These issues are more fully discussed on the “Illinois Motorcycle Maintenance” and “Mechanical Problems On Motorcycles” pages.

Should You Be Injured In A Motorcycle Accident

While the accidents caused by the high-risk motorcyclist behaviors discussed above are often the fault of the motorcyclist, the fault of any accident needs to be thoroughly and accurately determined.  Of course, determining “what really happened” and who is at fault for the accident isn’t necessarily readily apparent.  It is for this reason that accident investigators, as well as any witness statements, are important in determining accident causes.

For those motorcycle accidents that are the fault of the other party (such as a motorist), the injured motorcyclist may be able to recover monetary damages to compensate for the injuries and other costs that may be incurred.  For those motorcycle accidents that are fatal, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed.

For those non-fatal accident injuries, there are various categories of compensation that may be attainable.  A plaintiff (in this case the injured motorcyclist or passenger who initiates the lawsuit) may be able to recover damages for reasons such as past and future medical bills; past and future lost wages; loss of consortium; pain and suffering; rehabilitation; out-of-pocket expenses; and loss of function.

Should you be injured in an Illinois motorcycle accident, there are a variety of steps you should take to protect both your health and your legal rights, including your rights to receive compensation for your accident injuries.  From a legal perspective, it is highly recommended that you speak with an Illinois personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.  This lawyer can tell you what steps to take in order to protect your legal rights and to maximize your compensation for your accident injuries and other harm that may have resulted due to the crash.

If you were injured in an accident, call Tony Elman, Principal Trial Attorney at the Elman Joseph Law Group, at (773) 392-8182 to discuss the situation and see what legal actions are recommended.  This legal consultation is provided free of charge and is confidential in nature.

Elman Joseph Law Group, LLC handles cases on a contingency basis…you will not be charged legal fees unless and until there is a monetary recovery.

Elman Joseph Law Group handles Illinois personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.  Over the last 20+ years Elman Joseph Law Group has handled over 10,000 Illinois personal injury lawsuits.