Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Here in California, we like to consider ourselves a very motorcycle-centric state, with the highest numbers of registered motorcycles in the nation. But, unfortunately, what can begin as a freeing day on the open road can end in a tragic accident, leading to serious motorcycle accident injuries and, regrettably, even fatality. In California, like many other states, a rider is far more vulnerable on the road than other drivers, and we have the unfortunate motorcycle accident data to prove it.
Motorcycle Accidents: The Grim Statistics
Because of their increased exposure, bikers will commonly sustain serious and often life-threatening injuries even in what would normally be considered a minor accident in a passenger vehicle. 80 percent of all crashes nationally involving motorcycles resulted in injuries to their riders.
While any motor vehicle accident can be serious and even life-altering, the data paints a particularly bleak picture for motorcycle accidents in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the year 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists lost their lives in motorcycle accidents. That makes a biker 29 times more likely to die in an accident than an occupant of a passenger vehicle.
According to California Highway Patrol, state data indicates that motorcyclist fatalities have increased annually in California despite gains that have been made in other areas of traffic safety. This leaves bikers overrepresented when it comes to traffic fatalities in California. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in California, the skilled motorcycle accident lawyers at Riderz Law can help.
How Are Motorcycle Accidents Different?
What causes motorcycle accidents and how do they differ from car accidents?
First of all, the inherent nature of the motorcycle, while offering freedom and openness, also leaves the rider uniquely more exposed and vulnerable in an accident than an individual in a passenger vehicle.
A motorcycle relies on two slim points of traction, balance, and forward momentum in order to operate. Take away any of those, and you have a recipe for a serious motorcycle injury accident. With less weight and bulk, the motorcycle and rider are easily hidden from view in the blind spot of other vehicles. And without the added safety protections that passenger vehicles have like heavy metal frames, seatbelts, and airbags, the rider is simply in a far more vulnerable position in any accident scenario.
In other words, there is no such thing as a minor motorcycle accident. Even the most minor motorcycle accident can cause serious injuries or even a fatality.
California Motorcycle Accidents
While most motorcycle injury accidents are caused by many of the same things as those that cause car accidents, some are specific to motorcycles themselves. The most common causes of motorcycle accidents in California include:
- Driver error — The number one cause of motorcycle injury accidents is the failure of other drivers on the road to see the motorcycle. Even the most attentive drivers often don’t detect a motorcycle that can be hidden in the typical car’s blind spot. Add driver distraction, impairment, or other reckless behavior to the mix and you have a rider who is at the mercy of driver negligence.
- Speeding — Excessive speeds, either on the part of the motorcyclist or the driver of another vehicle, is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in the United States. Speeding reduces reaction time, thereby increasing the likelihood of a dangerous accident and serious motorcycle injury accident.
- Drunk driving — According to the Insurance Information Institute, drunk driving factored into a full 33 percent of all motorcycle accidents in the year 2018. Drunk or drug-impaired driving affects a driver or rider’s ability to operate their vehicle safely and quickly react when necessary. In the case of a biker, alcohol will additionally impair the motor skills, balance, and coordination needed to ride their motorcycle safely.
- Unsafe lane changes — Drivers who make lane changes without checking their surroundings carefully put a motorcyclist in danger of a dangerous motorcycle collision.
- Sudden stops and rear-end collisions — Whether the biker needs to make a sudden stop and is rear-ended by another vehicle or another vehicle stops short and puts the rider at risk of a front-end collision, both can be extremely dangerous to a motorcyclist, often causing them to lose control or throwing them into oncoming traffic.
- Dangerous left-hand turns — Drivers who have misjudged the speed or distance of oncoming traffic during a left-hand turn are particularly dangerous to a motorcycle rider.
- Distracted driving — Although in California we have serious distracted driving laws, this doesn’t stop these accidents from happening. Anything that takes visual, manual, or cognitive attention away from a driver can result in serious injuries or even a fatality to a motorcycle rider nearby.
- Lane-splitting and drivers not sharing the road — In California, we are the only state that allows lane-splitting. While this has made it easier for riders in heavy traffic situations, it has also proven to be deadly in others. When other drivers fail to share the road, the biker usually loses in an accident.
- Dangerous road conditions — While unsafe road conditions can be a mere nuisance to the driver of a passenger vehicle, to a motorcyclist, it can be deadly. Unsafe road conditions, road maintenance without safety signage, potholes, and objects in the road represent unique dangers for a biker.
- Rider inexperience — Recent studies indicate that riders are at a greater risk of a motorcycle accident when they are inexperienced riders. More than half of all motorcycle injury accidents involve riders with less than five months of experience.
- Vehicle defects — Motorcycles can be subject to many types of vehicle defects and maintenance issues, particularly as they apply to tires, brakes, and the fuel system. Defective design and helmets can also create dangerous motorcycle accident scenarios for a biker.
Unfortunately, any motorcycle accident injury or fatality places extreme physical, mental, and financial pressure on the biker or the surviving family members. If you or a family member has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is critical to get the assistance of a skilled California motorcycle accident lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected and you get fairly compensated for your injuries.
Get Experienced Legal Help
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident in California, don’t try to navigate it alone. The insurance industry is not your friend. Contact the experienced motorcycle injury accident lawyers at Riderz Law. Motorcycle accidents are all we do and we don’t get paid unless we win your case. Contact us for a no-cost consultation to understand your rights and options after a motorcycle accident injury.