There are more motorcycles on California roads than any other state. With so many motorcycles, it’s not a surprise that there are many motorcycle accidents every year.
In 2018, there were almost 17,000 collisions involving motorcycles with 460 fatalities, according to preliminary data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.
How can motorcycle accidents be prevented? By looking at the causes of motorcycle accidents in California, it may be possible to help riders avoid the types of mistakes that could lead to an accident.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Common causes of motorcycle accidents in California include:
- Errors made by the drivers of cars and trucks;
- Negligent behavior by the motorcyclist;
- Environmental conditions; and
- Mechanical failures.
Errors Made by Drivers Of Cars And Trucks
In a majority of motorcycle accidents involving an automobile, the driver of the automobile is at fault. Accidents between motorcycles and automobiles usually occur because a driver isn’t aware of the motorcycle’s presence when they:
- Make a left turn;
- Change lanes; or
- Enter the roadway.
In order to share the roads safely, motorists need to keep their eyes on the road at all times, and take special care when changing lanes, making turns or pulling into traffic to make sure there are no motorcycles in their path.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles recommends that riders:
- Avoid riding in blinding spots; make sure they are visible to drivers;
- Communicate their intentions to other drivers;
- Keep their headlights on at all times to increase visibility;
- Maintain adequate spacing when passing and lane splitting; and
- Be prepared to act quickly to avoid an oncoming vehicle.
Negligent Behavior by the Motorcyclist
Rider negligence is the leading cause of single motorcycle accidents. Negligence means engaging in activities that are dangerous, illegal or both while riding a motorcycle. The leading causes of accidents where the motorcyclist was at fault include:
- Unsafe speed;
- Impaired riding (riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol);
- Improper turns;
- Riding on the wrong side of the road;
- Ignoring traffic signals;
- Improper passing; and
- Following too closely.
Most of these types of accidents could be avoided simply through defensive riding and obeying the traffic laws — especially the posted speed limits. Of course, no rider should ever get on their motorcycle if they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Driver experience also plays a part in motorcycle accidents. If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle before, it’s a good idea to take a safety course before hitting the roads. Riders should also select a motorcycle that’s a good fit for their level of expertise, progressing to faster and more powerful motorcycles after they’ve learned the basics of safe riding.
Another way motorcyclists can reduce the risk of injury during an accident is to wear the proper protective gear, especially a Department of Transportation approved motorcycle helmet. Helmets are the most effective way to prevent head and face injuries in the event of an accident.
In addition to helmets, the State of California recommends that you wear:
- Eyeglasses or other eye protection (if no helmet);
- High-top boots or shoes, preferably with steel-toe protection;
- Snug clothing covering arms and legs; and
- Brightly colored clothing and reflectorized material after dark.
Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to accidents caused by poor road conditions. Road hazards that could cause a motorcycle accident include:
- Litter and debris in the road;
- Poorly maintained roads;
- Construction zones;
- Animals in the road;
- Slick roads; and
- Adverse weather and geologic events: Rainstorms, snowstorms, dust storms, forest fires, earthquakes, mud slides, rock slides, etc.
It’s important for motorcycle riders to keep their attention on the roads at all times and watch their speed. They should also avoid riding in adverse weather conditions or in areas where mud or rock slides have occurred or could occur.
An accident resulting from a tire blowout or brake failure could have devastating consequences for the rider. Even a burned out headlight or tail light could prove dangerous, making it harder for a rider to see and be seen.
According to California law, all motorcycles need to be equipped with:
- Brakes, tires, rear view mirror and horn in good operating condition;
- Multi-beam headlight for 1978 models and later to remain on at all times; and
- Tail light and license plate light.
To prevent accidents caused by mechanical problems, it’s important for riders to inspect their motorcycles thoroughly before hitting the road.
Defective manufacturer parts can also play a part in a motorcycle accident. If you were injured in a crash caused by defective brakes or other parts, you may be able to seek damages from the manufacturer of the defective part.
Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident in California?
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle that was caused by the negligence of another driver, a manufacturer or a highway repair crew, you have a right to seek compensation for the damages you suffered in the accident. These damages can include current and anticipated medical expenses, lost wages, job loss, pain and suffering, etc.
To get the most compensation you are due after being injured in a California motorcycle accident, you need a personal injury attorney on your side with extensive experience in representing injured motorcyclists.
At Dinsmore & Sandelmann, we’ve successfully represented motorcycle riders injured in accidents in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Gardena, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Lawndale and other South Los Angeles County communities for over 25 years.
Don’t put off seeking legal assistance for your injuries. If you wait too long, the court may decline to hear your case. Contact the law offices of Dinsmore & Sandelmann to schedule a free initial consultation. You can discuss your case with an experienced Manhattan Beach motorcycle accident attorney to determine the best way to proceed with your claim. We handle Manhattan Beach motorcycle accident injuries on a contingency basis, meaning there are no up-front costs for our clients and we only charge a fee after we’ve won your case or obtained a settlement.