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Motorcycle Accidents Explained: Highsides vs. Lowsides 

Motorcycle accidents are often devastating for riders and their passengers. Still, there are different types of accidents that can occur. Two types that may be relatively unknown outside of motorcycle circles are called “highside” and “lowside” accidents. Both deal with losing control of the bike, but they differ on the initial mechanism of the incident, and their outcomes vary widely. Our Coweta County personal injury attorneys want to discuss highsides and lowsides so you have an understanding of what these two terms mean.

What is a Highside Motorcycle Accident?

A highside collision occurs when a rear wheel loses lateral grip on the roadway and then regains grip violently. Highside crashes often occur because a wheel locks up due to the engine seizing or the chain coming off the bike. These incidents are also common when a motorcycle rider over-corrects a rear wheel slide, which causes the bike to suddenly grip and send the rider the other way off the bike.

Because of the nature of these incidents, a highside collision is likely to throw the rider over the front of the bike, which can lead to dangers in a number of ways.

First, when a rider is thrown forward off of the bike, they will likely slam into the roadway or off the side of the road at a high speed, which can lead to severe injuries from the impact. Additionally, these incidents often lead to the motorcycle following the cyclist on the roadway, and the motorcycle could impact the cyclist, leading to further injuries.

The most common injuries associated with highside collisions include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries with paralysis, major bone fractures, road rash, and more.

What is a Lowside Motorcycle Accident?

A lowside motorcycle crash is when the motorcycle ends up on the same side as the way a cyclist is cornering. These incidents are caused by the front or rear wheels sliding out from under the rider, typically as a result of too much acceleration through a corner, too much breaking into the corner, or using too much speed through the corner for the grip available. The grip can change due to various aspects of the roadway, including surface changes or tire wear.

Lowside crashes are usually less damaging than highside crashes because these incidents usually do not throw the rider into the air in front of the bike. Often, lowside crashes result in the motorcyclist trailing behind the bike as the bike goes out in front of the rider after the spill to the roadway.

However, even though these incidents tend to be less severe, they could still result in major injuries for a rider. This includes severe road rash, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, lacerations, and more.

Avoiding Highside and Lowside Crashes

Motorcyclists must take steps to operate their vehicles safely. This includes operating at a safe speed, which means following the posted speed limit or operating below the speed limit if conditions warrant doing so.

Motorcyclists should avoid taking sharp turns or accelerating or braking too quickly inside of a turn. It is also important for motorcyclists to ensure their bike is well maintained, including the tires.