How To Prevent Motorcycle Accidents in California

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Motorcycle accidents cause significant damage to riders. Rarely does a rider walk away with only property damage.

Common injuries include road rash, internal damage, broken or fractured bones or spinal injuries. The fatality rate is also much higher in accidents that involve motorcycles. Therefore, if you drive a motorcycle, you should know how to prevent motorcycle accidents, and The Riverside motorcycle accident attorneys at the JLF Firm can help you if one occurs.

How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents?

As you learn how to prevent motorcycle accidents, you should understand motorcycle accidents. Due to their lack of protection and reduced stability and visibility, motorcyclists experience far higher death rates than those in four-wheel vehicles. The state had 936,809 motorcycles and 35,727,841 vehicles registered in 2023, making motorcycles less than 3% of registered vehicles.

In 2020, only 36,681 of the 168,304 U.S. motorcycle accidents involved only property damage, while 122,415 involved injuries and 9,208 involved fatalities. Total California traffic fatalities in 2021 were 4,285, while motorcycle fatalities were 565, making more than 13% of all fatal accidents. California is especially dangerous for motorcyclists, with the second-highest rate of rider fatalities in 2022 at 634.

In 2023, 11,479 motorcyclists received injuries or died in California. Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego were the three top counties for motorcycle deaths in California in 2021-2023, despite reductions in the number of crashes in these counties during the same period.

Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

While researching how to prevent motorcycle accidents, you should understand common types of accidents.

  • Head-on collisions occur when four-wheel vehicles hit motorcycles front-to-front, which causes you to stop abruptly or fly over your handlebars.
  • Sideswipe collisions occur when a vehicle hits the side of the motorcycle.
  • Real-end collisions occur when a car hits the back of a motorcycle.

Although you should understand the types of accidents to prevent motorcycle accidents, you should also understand the causes of these incidents.

  • Lane-switching or splitting
  • Left-hand turns
  • Intoxication
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving

Bad weather and poor road conditions are also dangerous for motorcyclists.

Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents and Improve Driver Safety

Now that you understand the causes, you can learn how to prevent motorcycle accidents. First, you should consider some general safety guidelines. Wear a DOT-approved helmet, long pants, long-sleeve shirts, Kevlar or leather protection, and shoes that cover your toes.

Follow traffic laws

The first thing you learn as you research how to avoid motorcycle accidents is to follow the traffic rules on the road.

Of all motorcycle accidents that led to rider deaths, 33% of the riders were speeding in 2021. Therefore, watch your speed. In addition, signal when you plan to turn or change lanes. Finally, lane splitting is not legal, so don’t do it.

Pay special attention at intersections

On the list of how to prevent motorcycle accidents is to remain especially observant at intersections. Look for vehicles waiting to turn left, and try to make eye contact with other drivers before proceeding into traffic. Reduce your speed so you have adequate time to respond to, maneuver around or evade an oncoming vehicle. Watch for gaps in traffic and anticipate that a vehicle will attempt to fill it. Also, look for anything in the intersection that could obstruct the view of other drivers. Observe vehicle tires to see where they intend to go.

Watch vehicles on multilane roads

When you drive on interstates or in town on lanes with multiple lanes, you are vulnerable to lane-switching accidents. How to avoid a motorcycle accident on multilane roads involves staying out of vehicle blind spots. Also, watch other vehicles’ wheels and turn signals because they may signal an upcoming lane change. In addition, the drivers should be observed to see if they check their mirrors or swivel their heads.

Avoid head-on incidents

As you consider how to prevent motorcycle accidents, remember that head-on collisions are often deadly for motorcyclists. To avoid them, stay in the right-hand lane as much as possible, and if the road only has two lanes, stay to the right-hand side of your lane. Also, watch vehicles for swerving, speeding or lack of driver attention. Slow down if you see these signs. In some cases, you may want to attempt to carefully drive off the road and onto the shoulder to avoid these incidents.

Don’t drink and ride

Alcohol impairment (BAC of .08 or higher) resulted in 29% of motorcycle accident deaths in 2021, and another 7% died in alcohol-related incidents with a BAC lower than .07. The best way to avoid these types of incidents is to avoid drinking and riding. If vehicles around you begin to show signs of driver intoxication, drive defensively or move off the road.

Don’t ride in bad weather

Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable during bad weather when roads become slippery or debris accumulates on roadways. In addition, motorcycles are more susceptible to hydroplaning.

In 2021, 13% of motorcycle accidents occurred during poor weather conditions. As you consider how to prevent motorcycle accidents, avoid riding your bike, wait it out in a safe location or drive cautiously during inclement weather.

Observe road conditions

Motorcycles are especially vulnerable to poor road conditions, such as potholes, edge breaks, uneven road surfaces, debris on the roadways and unpaved roads because they need to balance on two wheels. Gravel, sand and oil collected on the road over time can cause you to slip, especially when you need to make sharp turns.

Pay special attention to road signs about upcoming impediments, and if you encounter poor road conditions, slow down to avoid them safely.

Complete the California Motorcyclist Safety Course

You should complete a motorcycle safety course if you are a new rider. During motorcycle safety, you learn how to properly ride your bike and obey the rules of the road. They also teach you how to drive defensively and maintain your attention on the roadways. You will learn strategies for avoiding accidents. You may even receive insurance discounts and get your endorsement once you complete the course.

The Importance of Contacting an Attorney After a Motorcycle Accident

As you implement the strategies you learned as you researched how to prevent motorcycle accidents, recognize that roadways are more dangerous for riders like you. Our attorneys at The JLF Firm can help you in the event of an incident. Reach out to us today!

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