Motorcycle High-Side vs. Low-Side Crashes

Motorcycle High-Side vs. Low-Side Crashes

Any type of motorcycle crash is frightening, but some accidents are potentially more dangerous than others. Many motorcyclists are familiar with two types in particular: high-side and low-side crashes. Understanding how these wrecks happen can help you lessen the chances that they occur. But in the event you are in a motorcycle accident, it will be important to retain skilled Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorneys that will advocate for your rights and best interests. Find out why so many Indianapolis motorcyclists trust Sevenish Law Firm.

What to Know About High-side and Low-side Motorcycle Accidents

These are the two most common crashes that motorcycle riders should be careful to avoid. Both occur when riders push their bikes too hard while turning a curve. Although both types of accidents are usually the rider’s fault, there are cases in which other parties could be held liable. Examples include:

  • The motorcycle manufacture
  • The tire manufacturer
  • Parts manufacturers
  • Repair or maintenance shops
  • Government units, in the event (for instance) of unsafe road conditions

Here are the differences between a high-side vs. low-side crash:

Low-side motorcycle crashes

Also known as lowsiders, these wrecks happen when a rider leans into the corner and crashes on the same side. There are two sub-categories, front-wheel low-side crashes and rear-wheel low-side crashes. The difference is which wheel loses traction. In a front-wheel lowsider, the front wheel will lose traction in the middle of the corner and cause the bike to slide. In a rear-wheel lowsider, the rear wheel loses traction and will cause the bike to slide out from beneath the rider.

These are common reasons low-side motorcycle crashes happen:

  • Applying too much brake while going into a corner
  • Riding over water, oil, or gravel in the road
  • Riding on worn-out tires
  • Too much acceleration or speed while turning a corner
  • Too much speed in the corner

How to avoid a low-side crash

Riders should know about these safety tips:

  • Slow down well before a corner and speed up when coming out of it: the common saying is “slow in, fast out.”
  • Avoid all debris possible when riding: since oil, water, and other substances can cause loss of traction, be aware of these dangers.
  • Check your tires for low tread and replace bald tires: bald and low-tread tires won’t effectively grip the road and will slide out from under you in a corner.
  • Familiarize yourself with your bike: this starts with making sure you know the basic handling of the motorcycle and includes discerning how much lean you can safely handle.
  • Familiarize yourself with the road: until you know the road better, you should always take corners slowly.

High-side motorcycle crashes

These are also called highsiders and, while less common than low-side crashes, they can cause more damage and more severe injuries. Riders who enjoy going fast are likely to get into one of these wrecks, especially if they are inexperienced. But it doesn’t necessarily take high speed to cause a high-side accident.

The defining characteristic of a highsider is the sudden and violent rotation of the bike around its longitudinal axis. This typically occurs when the rear wheel loses traction, skids, and suddenly regains traction. These abrupt changes then cause the rider to be thrown head-first over the handlebars or from the side of the motorcycle. Highsiders can happen suddenly, with little or no warning.

Some of the most common causes of highsiders are:

  • Trail braking, the act of gradually releasing brake pressure while approaching the peak of a corner instead of slowing down before entering the turn
  • Slick surfaces caused by oil, water, or ice
  • Accelerating too soon when coming out of a turn, causing the back tire to lose traction
  • Downshifting too soon before entering a turn, resulting in a rear-wheel lock
  • Leaning too much into a curve and striking the muffler, footpeg, toes, or anything else on the road surface and thereby losing traction

How to avoid a motorcycle high-side crash

You should take precautions to avoid any sort of motorcycle crash. However, the relative danger of being thrown from a bike in a motorcycle high-side crash cannot be overstated. You may suffer such injuries as:

  • Broken bones
  • Contusions
  • Amputations
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Road rash and burns
  • Lacerations
  • Injury to the face and eyes
  • Internal organ damage and bleeding
  • Death

These are the best ways to minimize the likelihood of one of these accidents:

  • Avoid road debris, foreign objects, and slick surfaces: as with a low-side wreck, it’s critical to always avoid anything that gets in the way of your tires and the road.
  • Avoid the instinct to counter-steer in the direction of the skid: although you will still crash, it’s possible that you will instead have a low-side crash, causing less injury to you and less damage to the bike.
  • Do not accelerate too early: doing so can cause the loss of rear-wheel traction that cascades into a high-side accident.
  • Do not release the brake: if you lock the rear brake at a high speed but the traction is good, it’s generally recommended that the brake should not be released.
  • Never let anything come in contact with the road: anything on your bike that hits the ground can also cause a loss of traction in the rear wheel.

Skilled Legal Representation for Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Victims

Motorcycle high-side and low-side crashes can be deadly, and even experienced riders are not immune to them. It’s true that rider error typically contributes to these accidents, but this is not always the case. If another party was negligent in setting the conditions that led to your accident, it’s critical that you consult a seasoned personal injury attorney. Randall Sevenish of Sevenish Law Firm is here to serve you. Contact us today to learn more.

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