Our motorcycle accident lawyers are, first and foremost, motorcycle riders.  If you or a loved one are injured in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles (or anywhere else) our lawyers are here to help you.  But we mean it when we say that we hope you never need us.  In an effort to inform our clients and readers and promote motorcycle safety awareness, we publish motorcycle safety information and motorcycle accident statistics.  Nationwide motorcycle accident statistics may be found here.
The most well known motorcycle accident statistics for Los Angeles (or anywhere else, for that matter) are contained in what has become known as the “Hurt Report.”
With funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, researcher Harry Hurt of the University of Southern California investigated 900 motorcycle accidents in the Los Angeles area.  Additionally, Hurt and his staff analyzed 3,600 motorcycle traffic accident reports in the same area.  Hurt’s findings were published in a 1981 report entitled “Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures,  Volume 1: Technical Report.”   A copy of the report may be found here.

Summary of Findings Regarding Los Angeles Motorcycle Accidents

In his study, Hurt made numerous conclusions regarding motorcycle accident causation, injuries, and prevention.  The motorcycle accident lawyers at Riderz Law do not necessarily endorse or agree with all of these conclusions, as this report is almost 30 years old and contains (in certain circumstances) what we regard as bias against motorcyclists.  A great bulk of the data used in the Hurt Report is derived from traffic accident reports, which were drafted by police or highway patrol officers.  As motorcycle accident lawyers (and motorcyclists) in Los Angeles, we know first hand that police and highway patrol often wrongly place blame for accidents on motorcyclists.  Nevertheless, the findings/conclusions of the Hurt Report are widely cited, quoted and relied upon by national and state DOT’s, highway patrol, and safety organizations.  A summary of the Hurt Report findings are below:

  1. Approximately 75% of the motorcycle accidents involved collisions with other vehicles, typically automobiles.

  2. Approximately 25% of the motorcycle accidents were single-vehicle accident involving collision with roadway, median or other fixed object in the roadway. 

  3. Less than 3% of the motorcycle accidents were due to vehicle failure, e.g., engine failure or puncture flat. 

  4. In the single vehicle accidents, 66% of the accidents were caused by motorcycle rider error, with the typical error being a slide-out and fall due to over-braking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed.

  5. Road defects (bumps, ridges, potholes, etc.) were the cause of accidents in 2% of the accidents; animals caused 1% of the accidents.

  6. In the multiple vehicle accidents, 66% of the accidents were caused by the driver of the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right-of-way.

  7. The failure of motorists to see motorcycles in traffic is the leading cause of motorcycle accidents.

  8. The most frequent motorcycle accident involving automobiles occurs when the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

  9. Most motorcycle accidents occur at intersections, with the other vehicle violating the motorcyclist’s right-of-way and/or running red lights.

  10. 98% of motorcycle accidents are unrelated to weather conditions.

  11. Most motorcycle accidents occur during short trips involving shopping, errands, friends, or recreation, and is likely to happen close to the trip origin.

  12. Visibility of the motorcycle is a key factor in multiple vehicle accidents, and accidents are significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlights (on in daylight) and the wearing of bright yellow, orange or red clothing.

  13. The average pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph.

  14. Visibility of from the front of motorcycle and rider is most important in preventing accidents.

  15. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are far more likely to be involved in accidents than riders between the ages of30 and 50. 

  16. Motorcycle riders with previous, recent traffic tickets and/or accidents are more often onvolved in accidents.

  17. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are usually without motorcycle safety training.

  18. More than half of the motorcycle accidents involved riders who had been riding less than 5 months. According to the data, motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are less likely to be involved in accidents.

  19. Almost half of the fatal accidents involved alcohol.

  20. Motorcycle riders in the accidents tended to over-brake and skid the rear wheel, and under-brake the front wheel, reducing their ability to swerve to avoid accidents. 

  21. A motorcyclist typically has less than 2 seconds to take evasive action to avoid an accident.

  22. Car drivers involved in collisions were typically unfamiliar with motorcycles.

  23. Motorcycles with fairings and windshields were less often involved in accidents, most likely due to increased visibility of such motorcycles.

  24. Motorcycle with cafe racer or chopper modifications were more often involved in accidents.

  25. The likelihood of injury in motorcycle accidents is extremely high; 98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the solo accidents resulted in injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in serious injury.

  26. 50% of injuries to motorcyclists were to lower extremities.

  27. Crash bars do not reduce injury to motorcyclists.

  28. Heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., are effective in reducing cuts and “road rash”, frequent but rarely severe injuries.

  29. The severity of injuries increases with speed, alcohol involvement and the size of the motorcycle.

  30. Helmeted riders had much lower incident of head and neck injury in accidents.

  31. The increased coverage of full facial helmets significantly reduces face injuries.

  32. Sixty percent of the motorcyclists studied were not wearing helmets at the time of their motorcycle accident.