Should You Lay Down Your Bike to Avoid a Crash?

Some motorcyclists still believe that laying their motorcycle down (i.e., deliberately tipping over or jumping off) is a viable option for avoiding a sudden obstacle like an animal darting out or a car suddenly turning in front of them. While it may still seem like a better option than slamming into a roadway hazard—and in years past was often true—this is no longer the case. Rather, laying down your bike is likelier to leave you with serious injuries and increase your risk of losing your life in a motorcycle accident.

Alternatives to laying down your motorcycle

Back before the science of motorcycle engineering had advanced to where it is today, riders were instructed to purposely fall to one side before striking a larger vehicle or other unavoidable object. On the surface, if given a split-second to choose your fate, it does seem like a reasonable way to mitigate some damage. However, it also assumes a lot, including that:

  • You are going slow enough that you can execute a controlled fall without seriously injuring yourself— perhaps worse than striking the road hazard would
  • You can withstand the weight of an approximately 700 lb. motorcycle landing on top of you
  • You are certain you won’t be avoiding one obstacle only to be run over once you land on the ground
  • Your bike won’t be significantly damaged or destroyed in the process

Given that much older motorcycles lacked the advancements that give riders greater control and safety features, it’s understandable some chose to execute this maneuver out of desperation, and perhaps they were right to do so depending on the alternative. Sadly, the results these riders of yesteryear endured were less-than-stellar. For example, laying your motorcycle down when traveling at any speed over about ten miles per hour cost the rider in road rash as they slid across the asphalt. Many found that sliding and rolling after the lay down actually carried them into the obstacle they’d sought to avoid. Others were struck by vehicles they either slid under or were run over while on the ground. In numerous accounts, motorcyclists frequently suffered significant skin loss, broken bones, and brain and spinal injuries.

Is there ever a reason to lay your motorcycle down these days? Only under the rarest circumstances, when you are certain there is no other option and that you will not survive whatever you’re trying to avoid (e.g., before your bike veers over a cliff). Obviously, this is a very unlikely scenario, whereas the sudden appearance of a careless driver or other obstacle in your path is not. In almost every situation you’re likely to encounter, your modern motorcycle should be capable of allowing you to brake quickly and securely, swerve without losing control, and best of all, alert you through advanced collision avoidance technology of a potential threat even before you notice it.

Call a Los Angeles motorcycle crash attorney

Whether another motorist’s actions forced you to lay down your motorcycle or an obstacle fell into your path a municipality should have secured, you have a right to compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer Scott  J. Corwin for help at (310) 683-2300.