Over 80,000 motorcyclists are injured in motorcycle accidents each year across the United States. In California, there are over 800,000 registered motorcyclists who take to the road each year. Motorcyclists are at a higher risk for injuries than other drivers because:
- A motorcyclist and/or passenger on a motorcycle gets hit directly – a rider is not protected by a vehicle frame
- Motorcycles have less stability
- Motorcyclists are faced with direct exposure to weather conditions on the roads
Even when motorcyclists drive safely and practice caution, accidents can still happen. The team of motorcycle attorneys at The Barnes Firm have found that the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
Distracted Driving. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving claimed the lives of over 3,000 people in 2020. Distracted driving includes texting, talking on the phone, video calling, eating, smoking, reprimanding children in the back seat, fussing with technology in the car, or anything else that takes your eyes off the road. Often, vehicle drivers are not good at anticipating the speed and movements of motorcycles. Distracted driving gives drivers of vehicles less time to react, which could result in a driver crashing into a motorcyclist.
Left Turn Accidents. Left turn accidents account for over 30% of motorcycle accidents. These accidents generally happen when a driver in a vehicle mistakes the distance and speed of an oncoming motorcyclist at an intersection and makes a left-hand turn in front of the motorcycle approaching their vehicle. In many cases, the driver of the vehicle fails to evaluate the speed and distance at the intersection before making a left turn, causing a motorcycle accident to occur.
Speeding. In 2019, speeding killed 9,478 people in motor vehicle accidents. Speeding endangers everyone on the road, especially motorcyclists. A speeding car or truck needs more stopping distance, especially when behind a motorcycle. Increased speed can also lead to more serious injuries for the motorcyclist.
Driving Under the Influence. According to the NHTSA, one person is killed every 45 minutes in a DUI related crash. Driving under the influence is illegal in every state, and these crashes are all preventable. Driving a car or truck under the influence leads to severe impairment in vision and vehicle control. Motorcyclists have a higher chance of being hit by an intoxicated driver due to smaller profile than other vehicles.
Weather Conditions. Motorcyclist’s ride exposed to outdoor elements, which can include rain, sleet, hail, heat, wind, snow, and more. These weather conditions create dangerous road conditions for all drivers sharing the road and can leave motorcyclists more susceptible to being struck by a distracted driver.
Tailgating. Tailgating a motorcycle is extremely dangerous. The impatience of other drivers often leads to rear-end motorcycle accidents. Rear-end accidents commonly happen at red lights or stop signs, railroad gates, or in traffic when traffic comes to an abrupt or sudden stop.
Lane Splitting. As of August 2016, lane splitting is legal in the state of California. Lane splitting is the practice of motorcyclists riding between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. Studies have shown that lane splitting can help reduce road congestion on busy Los Angeles streets and highways. Due to this, other vehicle drivers must be even more alert to their surroundings to avoid causing a motorcycle accident, especially when changing lanes while driving or coming out of a complete stop in traffic. Purposely blocking or impeding a motorcyclist in a way that could cause harm to the rider, or opening a vehicle door to impede a motorcyclist, is illegal.