Motorcycle accident attorney in Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Reasons for California Motorcycle Accidents and How to Avoid Them

California is home to hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts. In fact, there are nearly 800,000 motorcycles registered in the Golden State, making it the number one motorcycling state in the country.

The climate in California is conducive for motorcycle riding all year round, and motorcyclists also enjoy the geographic diversity that the Golden State has to offer. The state boasts more than 1,100 miles of Pacific coastline along with an abundance of mountainous terrain, farms, lakes, rivers, and other forms of natural beauty.

Although motorcycle riding can be an exhilarating activity, it can also be very dangerous. Unlike automobile drivers, motorcyclists do not have a steel cage to protect them, so when they are involved in an accident, there is not much to prevent their bodies from hitting the pavement. This is the main reason why all motorcycle drivers and passengers in California are required to wear helmets (CVC §27803). 

Motorcycle Accident Deaths on the Rise

According to a Yahoo! news report from earlier this year, motorcycle crash deaths are increasing twice as fast as all other types of traffic-related fatalities. Just from 2019 to 2020 alone, motorcycle crash fatalities went up from 5,044 to 5,579, an 11% increase. Looking back further, this trend began around the turn of the 21st century.

Throughout most of the 1990s, annual motorcycle deaths were well under 3,000. In 2001, the number of deaths jumped to 3,197, the highest since 1988. In 2004, motorcycle accident fatalities eclipsed 4,000 for the first time since 1986, and in 2007, they went over 5,000 for the first time since they began recording these figures in 1975 (source: NHTSA). 

What is Causing the Increase in Motorcycle Accident Fatalities?

There are several reasons why motorcycle accidents occur, some of the most common include:

  • Speeding: Exceeding the speed limit is one of the leading causes of all types of traffic-related accidents, and it is no different with motorcycle crashes. When someone is speeding, they have less time to adjust to adverse conditions when they arise on the roads, making it more likely that they will get into an accident. Accidents at higher speeds also tend to cause more serious injuries.
  • Aggressive/Reckless Driving: Many motorcycle accidents happen because of drivers who tailgate motorcycles, fail to yield the right-of-way (especially when making a left-hand turn), weave into a lane that is occupied by a motorcycle, or otherwise engage in aggressive or reckless driving behaviors. Motorcyclists also drive aggressively or recklessly at times.
  • Intoxication: Alcohol and drug use do not mix with driving or biking. When a motorist or motorcyclist is intoxicated, they typically make poor driving decisions that increase the chances of a crash.
  • Lane Splitting: In California, lane splitting is legal, but it is not always advisable. Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of cars, usually during heavy traffic. Accidents that happen while lane splitting could be the fault of either the motorcyclist or the motorist or they may share fault, depending on the specific circumstances.
  • Poor Road Conditions: Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to hazardous road conditions. Problems with the road like potholes, uneven pavement, and loose gravel can upend a motorcycle and cause the rider to wipe out on the pavement.
  • Failure of Motorists to See Motorcycles: The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is the failure of a vehicle driver to see a motorcycle that is driving nearby. Because of their small stature, motorcycles can be difficult to detect. This is why it is important for drivers to pay close attention to what is happening on the road.

Experts and lawmakers have been alarmed at the sharp rise in motorcycle accident fatalities over the past couple of decades. And there are a few reasons that they often point to for an explanation:

  • Increased Population: One of the contributors to the rise in motorcycle accident deaths is the higher population. In California, for example, the population has gone up from around 33 million people in 2000 to 39 million people in 2020, an increase of about 6 million.
  • More Aging Motorcyclists: Since they first started becoming adults in the 1960s, Baby Boomers have always been one of the largest groups of motorcycle enthusiasts. And today, they still love riding as a way to enjoy their golden years. The problem is that older riders are more fragile physically, which means they are more likely to get seriously or fatally injured if they are involved in an accident.
  • Distracted Driving: Most experts believe that the main reason that motorcycle accident deaths are increasing is because of more driver distractions, and in particular, smartphones. Texting while driving causes motorists to focus completely on their phones and away from the roads, making it less likely that they will see motorcyclists. It is probably not a coincidence that motorcycle accident deaths topped 5,000 for the first time in 2007, the same year that Apple released the iPhone.

Tips for Avoiding a Motorcycle Accident in California 

With vehicle drivers more distracted than ever before, it is incumbent upon motorcyclists to be proactive and ride defensively in order to avoid a crash. Pay close attention to the cars and other vehicles on the road, anticipate their potential mistakes, and ride in a safer manner as possible.

Here are some important safety tips for motorcyclists to follow:

  • Wear the proper gear. As we talked about earlier, all California motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. In addition, it is highly recommended that you wear gloves and clothes that are made of thick, protective material.
  • Stay visible. Wear clothing with bright colors and add reflective elements to both your bike and your clothes. It is also best to keep your headlight on at all times when you ride.
  • Check your bike before every ride. Before you go out riding, look over your bike to make sure that it is in optimal working condition. Pay particular attention to your tires to ensure that they are inflated properly and have enough tread and be sure to test out your brakes.
  • Avoid riding in bad weather. If it starts raining, snowing, or if you encounter high winds, it might be best to hold off on riding until a better weather day.
  • Avoid drinking and riding. Do not go out riding if you have had too much to drink or you are under the influence of any other mind-altering substances. It’s simply not worth the risk.
  • Follow all traffic laws. Learn and understand the traffic laws in the areas where you will be riding and follow them to the letter.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in San Bernardino County? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer

Even when motorcyclists follow all the best safety practices, they cannot control the actions of others on the road. If you or a loved one got injured in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, it is important to work with an experienced attorney, so your legal rights are protected and you are in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.

If your motorcycle crash occurred in Rancho Cucamonga or a nearby Southern California community, Muhareb Law Group is here to help. Set up a free consultation with our office today by calling (909) 519-5832 or sending us an online message. We are ready to go to work for you!