California has over 800,000 registered motorcycles – the largest of any state. Good weather and scenic coastal roads make Orange County a haven for motorcyclists. However, motorcyclists face many dangers while riding. While motorcyclists are sometimes at fault, most motorcycle accidents are caused by negligent motor vehicle drivers. Additionally, motorcycle riders are 24 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a crash per vehicle miles traveled. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, speak with our motorcycle accident lawyer today.
The #1 cause of motorcycle accidents is driver error. This is understandable, considering cars greatly outnumber motorcycles on the road. Drivers who are distracted by talking, texting, changing the radio, eating, or simply daydreaming may hit a motorcyclist while backing up or changing lanes. Many serious and fatal motorcycle crashes occur at intersections while drivers are making left-hand turns. A motorcycle crash can also happen when drivers open their car doors before looking, hitting a motorcyclist who does not have enough time to stop.
Another major cause of motorcycle accidents is speeding. According to NHTSA, more than a third of fatal motorcycle accidents (34%) involve a motorist traveling at excess speed. Speeding reduces the reaction time and braking distance, making it harder to avoid a collision. It also increases the severity and likelihood of injuries in the event of a crash.
Impaired driving or riding
Both drivers and motorcyclists who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause serious accidents and motorcycle fatalities. According to the CDC, 27% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were impaired by alcohol, compared with 23% of passenger vehicle drivers. In California, the legal alcohol limit is 0.08% BAC.
Inclement weather and night riding
Motorcycles are much less stable than four-wheel passenger vehicles, making them particularly vulnerable in bad weather conditions such as rain, hail, sleet, and fog. Additionally, riding at night can make it difficult for motorcyclists to see and be seen. According to IIHS data, nighttime riding between 9 pm and 6 am accounted for 31% of motorcycle fatalities in 2020. To stay safe while riding at night, riders should wear reflective clothing and use their headlights or high beams when there are not many cars on the road.
Poor road conditions like potholes, debris, slippery roads, and wet pavement can cause a motorcyclist to lose control and crash. Motorcyclists rely on stability, which means that both wheels must remain on the road in order for them to ride safely. Bad weather like rain and snow can cause some of these hazardous road conditions, as well as construction sites.
Inexperienced riders are at a greater risk of being involved in accidents. They may be unable to assess the risks and respond quickly to sudden events. Like new drivers, new motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in a motorcycle crash. However, they are much more susceptible to severe injuries than passenger vehicle drivers. New motorcycle riders can take hands-on motorcycle safety courses and avoid busy highways and interstates until they gain more experience.
Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle between lanes or rows of slow-moving or stopped traffic moving in the same direction. Lane splitting is legal only in California and is controversial among both drivers and motorcycle riders. While some argue that lane splitting can reduce traffic congestion and prevent rear-end collisions for motorcycles, others say it can increase the risk of side-swipe accidents and anger other drivers.
How to Avoid Motorcycle Crashes and Serious Injuries
While not all accidents can be avoided, there are important steps motorcyclists can take to protect themselves and others on the road.
1. Wear a helmet
Motorcycle helmet use is effective in preventing serious head injuries. In California, it is required by law that all motorcycle operators and their passengers wear a Department of Transportation-approved motorcycle helmet at all times, regardless of age or experience. Additionally, riders should wear long pants, long-sleeved jacket, gloves, eye protection, and sturdy boots.
2. Enroll in a motorcycle safety course
If you are a new or even an experienced rider, consider taking a motorcycle safety course. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) offers a 15-hour course, which is mandatory for riders under the age of 21. Passing the class could result in insurance discounts and allows riders to skip the riding skills test at the DMV.
3. Remain visible at all times
Motorcycles are much more difficult to see than cars, increasing the risk of cars hitting motorcycles. Do not assume drivers can see you.
4. Obey the speed limit
Speeding increases the risk of an accident because it takes longer to stop or slow down. California is one of 22 states with maximum speed limits of 70 mph. Obeying the speed limit will help you stay safe on the road.
5. Don’t drink and ride
Alcohol and drug impairment are major factors in many motorcycle accidents. Don’t drink and ride, and don’t ride with someone who has been drinking.
Contact a Motorcycle Crash Attorney in Orange County
There is no easy way to say it. Motorcyclists can sustain serious and catastrophic injuries in an accident. At Mesa Accident Lawyers, we have helped countless motorcycle accident victims recover from their injuries and get compensated from negligent drivers. We are relentless in our pursuit for justice. Give us a call at (949) 763-4280 or send a message online to set up a free consultation with our experienced Costa Mesa motorcycle accident attorney.