Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Washington

When we examine the public portal that displays the total number of crashes that occur in Washington, we can see that there were nearly 2,000 total motorcycle collisions during the most recent reporting year. This information provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation indicates that 125 of these collisions were fatal, and more than 1,500 resulted in injury. Here, we want to examine some of the more common causes of motorcycle accidents in Washington.

Impaired Driving

Data from the Washington DOT indicates that there were more than 6,300 total alcohol-related collisions across the state during the most recent reporting year on file. Alcohol-impaired driving can affect everyone on the roadway, particularly those more vulnerable to accidents, such as motorcyclists. Alcohol slows down other drivers’ reaction times and increases the chance of accidents occurring. Drunk driving is a leading cause of fatal collisions across the state each year.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of vehicle accidents throughout the state of Washington. This negligent type of driving can affect a motorcycle operator as well as other drivers on the roadway. If a motorcyclist is distracted, this is certainly going to increase the chances of an accident. However, many motorcycle accidents are caused by the distracted driving of others on the roadway. This can include other drivers looking at their cell phones, reaching for objects in the vehicle, talking to others, rubbernecking, and more.

According to the CDC, distracted driving includes a person taking their hands off the wheel, eyes off the roadway, or mind off of driving.


Drivers operating too fast for conditions are the leading cause of vehicle accidents and vehicle accident injuries in Washington each year. It is important to point out that speeding does not necessarily mean a driver going over the speed limit. This also includes drivers who operate too fast for conditions, which can be different than the speed limit depending on weather conditions, visibility, and roadway stability.

Poor Roadway Conditions

If the roadways are not in good condition, this is a major hazard for motorcyclists. The very nature of operating a motorcycle means that those on the vehicle are more susceptible to poor road conditions, such as potholes, loose gravel on the roadway, bumps in the road, and more. With two wheels that must remain in motion in order for the motorcycle to stay upright, any roadway hazard significantly amplifies the risks.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Motorcycle operators and others on the roadway should change lanes as safely as possible. This includes using turn signals or hand signals, waiting for an open spot in the desired lane, changing lanes safely, and proceeding. Unfortunately, if individuals fail to use their turn signals or wait for a clear opening, this can lead to major accidents. Often, drivers in regular vehicles fail to check their blind spots, which means they may not see a smaller motorcycle. Changing lanes into a motorcyclist can lead to devastating consequences, particularly if the motorcycle operator crashes or is forced off the roadway.

Other Drivers’ Inattention to the Motorcycle

Sometimes drivers operate carelessly around motorcyclists or fail to pay much attention to them at all. The reality is that all drivers on the roadway should be practicing defensive driving, which means keeping their eyes on the roadway and looking out for any potential hazards. This also means being aware of other individuals and vehicles who have a right to be on the roadway. Call the Seattle motorcycle accident attorney at Washington Injury Law for a free consultation.