Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in California | 2024
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Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in California

Every time you take your bike out for a cruise, you’re at risk of serious injuries, or worse, adding your name to the ever-growing list of motorcycle riders killed on California’s roads. According to the NHTSA motorcycle accident fatalities data, 474 motorcyclists lost their lives on California roads in the year 2019.

Whether you commute on California’s freeways every morning or you live to cruise down the Golden State’s scenic roads, the most common causes of motorcycle accidents are essential safety information you need to know.

Armed with that valuable information, you can hone your reflexes and react swiftly in dangerous situations that might lead to a motorcycle accident. Our team at Power Legal Group, which represents many motorcycle crash victims, shares this blog to help you become more aware so that you can stay safe as a motorcyclist.

We sourced statistics from UC Berkeley’s 2017 SafeTREC study and a 2015 study by California’s SWITRS, which had the most in-depth data regarding motorcycle crashes in the Golden State.

The top five crash types for motorcycle riders in California include:

  1. Broadside hits: 27%
  2. Rollovers: 18.8%
  3. Object collisions: 16.2%
  4. Rear-end collisions: 14.3%
  5. Sideswipes: 10.9%

Yet, despite the many accidents that occur each year, California remains one of the most popular states for bikers, with over 900,000 registered motorcycles—the highest in the nation.

Power Legal Group: Where Your Case Matters

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from a motorcycle accident in California, you’ll need to hire a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer to handle your case. Trying to cope after an injury is challenging, especially with mounting medical expenses in addition to your other financial obligations.

At the law offices of Power Legal Group in Los Angeles, our attorneys have extensive experience handling motorcycle accident cases in Southern California. Since 2013, we’ve provided sound legal advice and professional representation for our clients, with no personal injury case too big or too small for our talented lawyers.

We know precisely how to negotiate with your insurance company, and we’ll fight as hard as we can to seek maximum compensation for you in your personal injury lawsuit.

Call us at Power Legal Group today toll-free at 800-323-7693 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about your California legal rights after a motorcycle accident.

California Motorcycle Accidents: Common Causes

Did you know that motorcycle drivers have a much higher risk of receiving catastrophic injuries in an accident than other motorists? In fact, they’re 28 times more likely to die in an accident than people who crash regular passenger vehicles.

Top Five Causes of California Motorcycle Accidents

The five most common causes of motorcycle accidents in the state of California include driving under the influence, unsafe lane changes, right-of-way issues, and improper turns, with speeding in the number one spot on the list.

1) Speeding: 29.5%

Speeding is the number one contributing factor to motorcycle crashes in California. Just like people who speed in a car, motorcyclists who exceed the posted speed limit have a greater risk of getting into an accident.

The faster motorcyclists drive, the easier it is to lose control and the less time they have to react to road hazards, such as a sudden traffic jam or other drivers abruptly changing lanes. Also, as speed increases, the more time and space a motorcyclist needs to slow down under ideal road conditions.

2) Right-of-Way Violations: 18.7%

Right-of-way violations, which can cause serious traffic accidents, are another one of the most common reasons for motorcycle accidents in California. The most common incidents include drivers who fail to yield or merge. These usually occur at red lights, three- or four-way stop signs, or while entering or exiting a road maintenance zone. These violations can easily result in head-on collisions with a car, no matter which person is the at-fault driver.

3) Improper Left-Hand Turns: 17.4%

Drivers who fail to pay attention while turning can easily cause a motorcycle accident. Left-turn accidents are the most common within this category, and they have devastating effects on motorcyclists.

For example, drivers making a left-hand turn at a stoplight without the green arrow must yield to oncoming traffic. This scenario usually occurs when cars or motorcycles making left-hand turns try to beat the light or cut in front of oncoming traffic without the right-of-way. In these types of accidents, one slight miscalculation can cause an accident with devastating injuries and consequences for both parties.

4) Driving Under the Influence: 9.6%

UC Berkeley’s research shows that people who drive motor vehicles are 4% more likely than motorcycle riders to have consumed alcohol before an accident. Driving under the influence can easily cause a motorcycle accident and is one of the most dangerous things you can do on the road because alcohol impairs your vision, judgment, and reflexes significantly.

A motorcycle accident that occurs due to the driver taking drugs is also considered a DUI (driving under the influence). If you’ve been drinking or using drugs, call a taxi or an Uber to take you home. Whether you ride a motorcycle or drive a car, trying to save a few bucks on a cab ride is never a valid excuse for driving under the influence.

5) Unsafe Lane Changes: 5.8%

When drivers fail to change lanes properly, they can cause a motorcycle accident in the blink of an eye. Whether an abrupt lane change with no signal, improper lane splitting, failure to check blind spots, or sudden swerving, unsafe lane changes are a significant cause of motorcycle accidents.

Motorcycles are much smaller and narrower than passenger vehicles, which is why other motorists often have difficulty seeing them, especially when making a lane change. Also, someone in a car with a bulky A-pillar or missing side mirror will have even more trouble spotting a motorcycle in their blind spot. When the two vehicles collide on a multi-lane highway, the result is usually serious injuries for every party involved but more so for the unprotected biker.

Other Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Whether you’re an experienced motorcycle rider or just a beginner, it’s important to watch out for other vehicles and road dangers that can cause an accident:

Distracted Driving: A distracted driver is incredibly dangerous. Whether they’re eating, talking on the phone, texting, or fiddling with the radio, drivers who ignore the moving vehicles around them are a considerable risk to your safety when you’re riding.

Road Hazards: Whether you’re in a passenger vehicle or on the back of a motorcycle, road hazards and poor driving conditions can cause an accident before you even realize what’s happening. For example, uneven road surfaces like milled pavement or potholes can cause a catastrophic accident for somebody on a motorcycle.

Since a motorcycle only has two wheels, maintaining control on rough or uneven ground is much more difficult than when driving a car. Poor weather conditions can also contribute to motorcycle accidents. If you get caught in an unexpected rainstorm on the road, pull off the wet pavement and take shelter until it passes.

Improper Lane Splitting: Lane splitting is legal in California, and research has shown that it’s safer for motorcycle riders than being stuck in traffic, where there’s a high risk of cars hitting them from behind. However, improper lane splitting is dangerous and can cause accidents for cars or motorcycles.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, lane splitting is when a motorcycle passes between cars by riding down the white line. The practice is only acceptable on a multi-lane highway, with a speed differential of 15mph or lower.

Did You Suffer an Injury in a Southern California Motorcycle Crash? Call Power Legal Group Today

If you live to ride, it’s essential for you to know the most common reasons for California motorcycle accidents. Even if you’re the safest driver in the world, every time you hop on the back of a bike or get behind the wheel, you could get in an accident.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a motorcycle crash, look no further than the law offices of Power Legal Group in Los Angeles, CA. Our legal team provides aggressive representation and will advocate tirelessly on your behalf in court and with the insurance companies.

Call us at Power Legal Group today at 800-323- 7693 to learn more about our firm and schedule your free consultation.

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