Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating experience, with the freedom of the open road and the wind in your face. However, like any form of transportation, motorcycles come with their own unique set of risks.
A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that roughly 80% of all reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death – compared to just 20% in passenger vehicles. A motorcycle crash can result in serious and life-long injuries for the rider. Some riders may never be able to get back on their bike at all.
If you’re a motorcyclist or know someone who is, it’s important to know the common causes of accidents in order to prevent them. Here are the most common causes of motorcycle collisions in California.
What Causes Most Motorcycle Crashes?
1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of serious accidents and motorcycle fatalities in California. With the widespread use of smartphones, many drivers are tempted to check their texts, make phone calls, or engage in other distractions while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, this can have deadly consequences for motorcyclists who are more vulnerable on the road compared to other motorists.
It’s also important for motorcycle operators to practice defensive driving and be constantly aware of their surroundings. Do not drive in a car’s blind spot, always use signals and headlights, and maintain a safe following distance. Even a few seconds of inattention can result in a crash.
2. Lane Splitting
Lane splitting is a practice where motorcyclists ride between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. While it is legal in California, it can be dangerous if not done properly. A deadly motorcycle crash can occur when a rider attempts to lane split at a high speed or in narrow spaces, resulting in a collision with passenger cars or other vehicles.
If you choose to lane split, make sure to do so cautiously and within the legal speed limits. Be aware of other vehicles, use your signals, and keep a safe distance from other cars. Avoid lane splitting between large vehicles like big rigs or buses.
Speeding, either from passenger cars or motorcycles, is a significant contributor to accidents in California. Motorcycles are more vulnerable to accidents caused by speeding due to their smaller size and lack of protective barriers. Riding at excessive speeds reduces the rider’s ability to react to unexpected situations and increases the severity of injuries in case of a crash.
Additionally, other motorists who speed have a reduced reaction time and may not be able to stop in time. A collision between a high speed vehicle and a motorcycle can result in catastrophic injury or death for the rider.
4. Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous behavior for all motorists, but especially for motorcycle riders. According to the NHTSA, nearly 30% of all motorcyclist fatalities involved alcohol. Impaired judgment, reduced reaction times, and impaired motor skills significantly increase the risk of serious injuries on the road.
5. Inexperienced Riders
Riders with a lack of proper training are more susceptible to fatal motorcycle crashes. Lack of experience and training can result in poor decision-making, improper control of the motorcycle, and inadequate response to emergency situations. It’s essential for new riders to take a motorcycle safety course, obtain proper licensing, and gain experience through practice before hitting the road.
California offers the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP), which provides training courses for riders of all skill levels. These courses cover basic motorcycle handling, defensive riding techniques, and other essential skills to help riders become safer and more confident on the road. Taking a motorcycle safety course can greatly reduce the risk of a fatal motorcycle crash, especially for inexperienced riders.
6. Dangerous Road Conditions
Road hazards such as potholes, debris, uneven surfaces, and slippery surfaces can pose significant dangers to motorcyclists. Due to the smaller size and less stable nature of motorcycles compared to cars, hitting a road hazard can result in loss of control and a subsequent crash. Wearing protective gear such as a helmet, jacket, and boots can reduce the significance of injuries in a motorcycle crash.
7. Left-Turn Accidents
California’s left-turn law applies to all motorists, including motorcyclists. T-bone collisions caused by left-turn accidents are a common type of motorcycle crash in California. These accidents occur when a motorcyclist is going straight through an intersection, and a vehicle turns left in front of them, often failing to yield the right of way. Due to the smaller size of motorcycles and their relative invisibility to drivers, left-turn collisions can be particularly dangerous.
8. Failure to Follow Traffic Laws
Failure to follow traffic laws, such as running red lights, stop signs, or improper lane changes, can result in serious and fatal crashes. Adhering to traffic laws is essential for the safety of all road users, including motorcyclists. It’s important to obey traffic signals, signs, and lane markings, and always ride in the same direction as traffic flow.
As a rider, avoid making sudden or reckless maneuvers on the road, and always signal your intentions to other drivers. Practice defensive riding techniques, such as maintaining a safe following distance, checking blind spots, and being aware of the traffic around you. Following traffic laws can greatly reduce the risk of a fatal motorcycle crash and keep you safe on the road.
Do You Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
As a motorcyclist, it’s crucial to prioritize safety at all times and be aware of the potential risks on the road. If you were injured in a motorcycle crash because of another driver, you need strong legal representation. Our motorcycle accident lawyer in Santa Ana has years of experience representing auto accident victims and obtaining maximum compensation for their losses. Call our law office at (714) 862-1187 or contact us here for a free consultation.