Motorcycles are popular in California and throughout the United States. While many people enjoy riding motorcycles, they need to acknowledge the inherent dangers these vehicles present. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other sources indicate that the risk of experiencing an accident is much higher for motorcyclists than drivers of typical passenger vehicles. On average, for every 100,000 vehicle miles driven in the US, there are about 25 motorcycle accident fatalities and only one car accident fatality.
The risk of death and serious injury is statistically much higher on a motorcycle than in a passenger vehicle. Therefore, every motorcyclist and every motorcycle passenger must understand the risks that motorcycles present and how to avoid accidents. They should also understand the value of appropriate safety equipment, such as properly fitting helmets, heavy boots, gloves, and other riding gear.
How Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
Motorcycle accidents occur for many of the same reasons that car accidents occur. However, due to motorcycles’ small size and the fact they offer no physical protection to their riders, the chances of severe injuries occurring are much higher on motorcycles than in standard passenger cars. Some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in the US include:
- Distracted driving, which is the leading cause of all traffic accidents in the United States. Even momentary distraction can cause a devastating accident. If a driver of a larger vehicle stops paying attention to the road for even a few seconds, they can easily collide with a motorcycle. Motorcycles are smaller than most cars and therefore harder for distracted drivers to notice in time to avoid accidents.
- Drunk driving. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal in every state and extremely dangerous for the intoxicated driver and everyone around them. Motorcycle accidents are likely to occur when riders are under the influence, and drunk drivers operating larger passenger vehicles present some of the biggest threats to nearby motorcyclists on the road.
- Poor visibility. Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see than other vehicles, allowing them to easily slip in and out of other drivers’ blind spots. Combine this with poor visibility from the weather or nighttime, and the risk of a motorcycle accident increases dramatically.
- Reckless driving. Motorcycles are fast and maneuverable, which unfortunately encourages some riders to engage in reckless driving, such as speeding or weaving between slower-moving traffic. Reckless passenger vehicle drivers can also easily cause motorcycle accidents. In addition, their actions can make it difficult for them to avoid hitting a nearby motorcyclist. All drivers have a duty of care to operate their vehicles responsibly and adhere to posted traffic signs and signals at all times.
These are only a few of the most commonly cited causes of motorcycle accidents in the US. If you ride a motorcycle or plan on riding one in the future, it is essential to know how to handle your bike and how to avoid these risk factors as much as possible. You can also do a few things to minimize your risk of experiencing an accident or mitigating your injuries should someone else cause an accident with you while you are riding your motorcycle.
Important Precautions for Motorcyclists
California upholds strict safety laws for motorcyclists. All riders and passengers must wear appropriately fitting helmets approved by the Department of Transportation (DoT). If you need to purchase a motorcycle helmet for yourself or a passenger, be sure it has the seal of approval from the DoT before purchasing. Generally, full facemask-type helmets offer the highest level of protection and can significantly reduce the risk of a motorcyclist or passenger suffering a fatal head injury.
Riders should use caution when operating their motorcycles and follow the same rules when driving a passenger car. This means yielding the right-of-way when required, adhering to posted speed limits, and refraining from dangerous maneuvers such as lane-splitting or weaving between lanes of traffic.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Despite your best efforts to be as safe as possible on your motorcycle in California, there is simply no way to anticipate the actions of all the other drivers around you. Therefore, in the event you experience a motorcycle accident, your first actions immediately following the crash can significantly impact the events to follow. Specifically, your actions after the crash can impact your recovery if you file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver responsible for the incident.
Motorcyclists have a higher chance of experiencing an accident than a passenger vehicle driver and a higher chance of experiencing severe or fatal injuries from these accidents. Based on available statistics, motorcyclists are more than 25 times more likely to die in an accident than car drivers and are five times more likely to experience severe injuries.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you should wait for paramedics to arrive and transport you to a hospital for treatment. Once your condition stabilizes, you should speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Any motorcycle accident is capable of causing severe injuries, including broken bones, head injuries, spinal injuries, and damage to internal organs. If you have sustained injuries and economic losses due to another driver’s negligence, an experienced attorney is your best possible asset when it comes to securing compensation for your losses.
Finding Legal Help After a Motorcycle Accident
If you believe another driver is responsible for your recent motorcycle accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you hold them accountable. Once you have received medical treatment for your injuries, obtain a copy of your medical report from your doctor and secure a copy of the police report from your accident before speaking to an attorney. Your personal injury lawyer can review the details of your situation and help you determine the best available path toward securing compensation for your losses.
The attorneys at Easton & Easton have years of experience handling the most challenging motor vehicle accident claims. We know that motorcycle accidents often cause life-changing injuries and want to help you and your family recover after experiencing this kind of accident. Contact Easton & Easton today for more information about how our firm can assist in your recovery after a motorcycle accident.