California has thousands of miles of scenic roads and beautiful weather all year round. For these reasons and many more, motorcycle riding is very popular here. And while there are definite advantages to getting around on two wheels, the dangers of riding cannot be ignored. In 2016 alone, 566 motorcyclists were killed on California roads and another 14,400 were injured.
The same problems are seen nationally. Between 1994 and 2016, motorcyclist deaths more than doubled as a percentage of overall road deaths. In 1996, riders accounted for 5.7 percent of U.S. road deaths. By 2016, they made up more than 14 percent of road fatalities. Throughout that entire period, motorcyclists made up only 3 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads – demonstrating that the death rate among riders has consistently been disproportionate to their overall numbers. About 20 percent of car accidents are injurious or fatal, whereas 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death.
Why are motorcycle crashes so common?
Some factors naturally make riding dangerous, such as the fact that motorcycles are smaller than cars, weigh less, and offer no external protection to riders in the event of a crash. And while two wheels make for more agile maneuvering in traffic, they provide less stability than four or more wheels. These risks are inherent and are hard to control for.
However, there are many human elements that make riding more dangerous as well, and these are preventable. In many cases, motorcyclists are struck or run off the road by drivers of larger vehicles because those other drivers are not paying adequate attention. It is important to actively scan the road for smaller vehicles, which is the message behind the popular bumper sticker: “Start Seeing Motorcycles!”
In other cases, drivers cut off motorcyclists or leave them too little distance because they assume that riders don’t need as much space on the road. These scenarios can easily result in a rear-end collision or force the rider off the road entirely.
One of the most dangerous scenarios is the left-turn accident. Cars turning left across traffic are required to yield to oncoming vehicles, but many drivers fail to notice motorcycles or misjudge their distance and speed. They turn left into the path of the motorcyclist, leaving no time to slow down or get out of the way. These crashes are often fatal to the riders.
Motorcyclists can assert their rights
There are numerous actions riders can take to prevent accidents (like wearing reflective clothing) and protect themselves in an accident (like wearing a helmet). But after a crash, motorcyclists can also seek compensation and justice in the form of a personal injury lawsuit. This not only helps cover medical costs and other damages; it might also increase awareness that motorcyclists must be seen and respected.