Wrongful Death: The Motorcycle Death Wobble

August 17th, 2017 by Patrick Hogan

The motorcycle death wobble occurs when the motorcycle handlebars and front wheel rapidly wobble back and forth. This motion or oscillation, quickly gets worse until the rider loses control. The death wobble can cause bad motorcycle accidents in which the motorcyclist runs off the road, or veers into oncoming traffic, or falls off the bike. At normal speeds this problem is usually caused by a maintenance problem that makes the steering unstable.

All it takes for the death wobble to start is an irregularity in the pavement, a gust of wind, the rider shifting his weight, or any other input or disturbance. From there, the wobbling intensifies until either the rider brings the bike under control or crashes. First, the front wheel turns in one direction, then reverses direction but overcorrects and shoots well past the straight-ahead position. With each cycle, the over steering gets worse.

These oscillations happen six to ten times per second, which is too fast for the motorcyclist to counter with his own steering inputs. In fact, any steering corrections attempted by the rider only make the problem worse. Sometimes the handlebar movements are so rapid that the rider is unable to hold on to the bike.

Mechanical Issues That May Cause the Death Wobble

  • Under inflated front tire.
  • Worn front tire.
  • Unbalanced front wheel.
  • Suspension problem.
  • Worn steering bearings.
  • Design or component defect.

How to Recover From the Death Wobble

Resist your natural instinct to center the handle bars with your hands. This will make the problem worse. In addition, resist your instinct to brake, which intensifies the wobbling. While keeping your arms relaxed and slightly bent, accelerate and lean back.

This takes the weight off the front wheels. Less front wheel weight reduces the pavement friction against the tire, which reduces the turning forces you feel in the handle bars. Reduced turning forces also mean reduced wobbling, which allows you to regain steering control with your arms.

If you lost a loved one because of a motorcycle defect, poor repair shop workmanship, or the negligent driving of a motorist, our compassionate lawyers will assess your wrongful death case, explain your legal options, and help you through the legal process. Contact us at Hogan Injury.

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