Are three-wheel motorcycles safer than regular motorcycles?

Green and black Can-Am Spyder RSS, model 2013 three-wheel motorcycle

Three-wheel motorcycles, or motor trikes, or adult tricycles, or motorcycles with “training wheels” have been around for a while; however, their popularity is growing. With more folks on motor trikes, people are wondering if they are any safer than regular motorcycles.

Are three-wheel motorcycles safer than regular motorcycles?

The number one problem with two wheelers is that vehicle drivers don’t see them. The fact is that three-wheelers are wide, so they are definitely more visible, and therefore safer.

As I’ve written before and as I have seen from my experience as a motorcycle accident attorney, there are some common causes of motorcycle accidents. The most common response in such a crash is that car and truck drivers who have hit a motorcycle say they did not see it. A driver looking for cars perceives an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle.

In addition, a motorcycle is frequently an unexpected small object on the road and many drivers fail to see it when it is dark, when traffic is heavy, and when poor weather conditions are present.

Research shows that the most common type of collisions between a motorcycle and a car or truck occurs at intersections when the driver of the vehicle is making a left-hand turn in front of the motorcyclist. These accidents frequently occur when the motorcycle is going straight through the intersection, or is passing a car.

The National Highway Safety Administration funded the Hurt Report back in 1981 and their findings are still the same today as they were then. Approximately 77 percent of accidents involving two-wheeled motorcycles come from the frontal (or “11 o’clock to 1 o’clock”) position.

Moreover, studies indicate that drivers have a hard time gauging the speed of motorcycles when passing them or when turning into an intersection. Research indicates that more often than not, drivers underestimate the speed of the motorcyclist.

With motor trikes, there are two side-by-side wheels in a widened back (or, in some cases, the front), a center brake light and a wider rear body. This means they have more visibility and a better chance to be seen from other motorists on the road.

Since three-wheel motorcycles are so much wider, they cannot engage in the dangerous practice of sharing a lane with other cars or zipping between and around cars in heavy traffic. They also are much less likely to be involved in getting “doored.” This can occur when the driver of a parked car opens the car door directly in front of the approaching biker.

Three-wheeled motorcycle safety and laws in Arkansas

Driving a three-wheel motorcycle is different than driving a two-wheeler because there are different physics involved. Trike riders need to learn that driving them is more like driving a car. You don’t lean your body into a curve.

If you are new to driving a three-wheeled motorcycle, I would suggest you take a 3-Wheel Basic Rider Course. Several courses are offered throughout the state.

The requirements to operate a three-wheel motorcycle in Arkansas are the same as those for a regular two-wheel motorcycle. However, the DMV recommends that drivers study the three-wheel supplement in the Arkansas Motorcycle Operator Manual which offers guidelines for safely operating them on public roads.

I can’t recommend it strongly enough: please always wear a helmet, appropriate clothing and goggles to protect your eyes whenever you are riding any kind of motorcycle.

Please, be safe out there.

I would appreciate it if you would share this post so that others can benefit from the information. Thank you.

If you have any questions about this article or any area of personal injury law, please refer to the contact info below.

Also, if you are interested, please read my other personal injury articles at

Contact Information:

The Law Offices of Peter Miller

1601 S. Broadway

Little Rock, AR 72206

Phone: 501-374-6300



The content of this blog was prepared by Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Law Office of Peter Miller, P.A. Attorney-client relationships can only be created by written contract.


Attribution: By Steindy (talk) 19:57, 14 April 2013 (UTC) (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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