California is a great place to ride a motorcycle. From one end of the state to the other, there are countless reasons to take to the open road, whether you are on a road trip adventure or just your daily commute. Unfortunately, riding a motorcycle does not come without serious risks. From 2019 to 2020, California saw a 9.8% increase in motorcycle fatalities, which mimics the national statistics. That number is not meant to deter you but just serves as a reminder that it is important to ride with caution and take preemptive safety measures to prevent motorcycle accidents. Reach out to speak with a trusted motorcycle accident lawyer.
Common Motorcycle Accident Causes
There is no way to truly prevent motorcycle accidents from happening because you cannot control all of the contributing factors, including what other people do. Vehicle drivers not seeing motorcycle riders is an overarching issue that often leads to serious or even fatal accidents. Here are some more specific causes:
- Vehicles changing lanes or turning without looking for motorcycles;
- Cars or trucks opening their doors when parked along active traffic;
- Reckless driving or driving under the influence;
- Sudden stops in fast-moving traffic;
- Disobeying traffic signals like stop signs or red lights,
- Dangerous road conditions such as limited visibility or debris in the road; and
- Motorcycle part defects or malfunctions.
Knowing some of the most common reasons motorcycle accidents occur can help you understand what to look for as part of your motorcycle accident prevention efforts.
Safety Measures to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents
Considering the number of vehicle collisions that occur each year (over 5 million police-reported crashes in 2020), it is safe to assume that drivers are not always attentive to other vehicles. And that means they are even less likely to notice motorcycle riders. It is also more difficult for drivers to gauge the speed and distance of a motorcycle. Being seen is one of the most important motorcycle safety measures to prevent accidents.
One of the benefits of riding a motorcycle is that they are fairly nimble and able to move around and even through traffic. California is the only state that legally allows lane splitting, though it is only permitted when traffic is slow or stopped. Unfortunately, motorcycle size contributes to decreased visibility as well as injury severity. It is important to always ride as if no one can see you because many will not. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to contribute to motorcycle accident prevention.
Wear Bright Clothing
Wearing a black jacket, black pants, black boots, and a black helmet while riding your black motorcycle may look cool, but if you get hit because people cannot see you, is it worth it? Fluorescent colors can help you stand out, even during the day. Reflective or retro-reflective materials can increase visibility, especially at night, which can make a big difference.
Turn Your Headlights On
You may not think it is dark enough to have your headlights on, or you might not think you need them during the day. But using your headlights all the time could increase the likelihood that vehicles will see you on the road. And obviously, never drive in the dark without headlights.
Check the Weather
Though there are many sunny days in California, there can also be rain, snow, hail, sleet, fog, and other conditions that are unfavorable for any vehicle, but especially motorcycles. If the weather is uncooperative, you may want to consider staying in or making other travel arrangements.
Use Turn Signals
Even though your driving maneuvers may occur faster than those of cars and trucks on the road, it is important to use your turn signals every time you turn or change lanes. A driver may decide to move one way or another based on your current position, not knowing that you were about to enter their lane. You can use the signals on the bike or hand signals.
Check the Rearview
It is easy to slip into someone’s blind spot, especially if they have a larger vehicle. When riding behind a vehicle, try to position yourself so you can see yourself in their rearview mirror. If you cannot see yourself, they are unlikely to see you either. This is one of the most important motorcycle safety measures to prevent accidents.
Use the Horn
If you doubt whether a driver sees you, honk your horn to get their attention. Never depend on them to adjust their behavior to avoid a collision. You should react defensively to any situation.
Brake Light Check
It is hard to know if your brake light is out if you do not check it, so do that frequently. The brake light indicates that you are slowing or stopping, which is an important indicator for vehicles following too closely, especially at high speeds.
A motorcycle has no room for error, and the road is unforgiving. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have alternate transportation so you are not tempted to hit the road while under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Even some prescription drugs should not be taken before driving.
California Motorcycle Helmet Law
Motorcycle helmets are not required in all states, but they are in California. According to the California Vehicle Code § 27803, all drivers and passengers in the Golden State must wear a US DOT-compliant motorcycle safety helmet. Penalties for a helmet violation can include fines of up to $250 and up to a year of probation. Though helmets will not prevent accidents, they may reduce head injuries by up to 69%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What to Do If You Are in a Motorcycle Accident
Despite using safety measures to prevent motorcycle accidents, they still happen. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and property damage. Michael Henderson has over 25 years of experience representing accident victims like yourself, and he understands what it takes to achieve favorable results. Contact Henderson Law to schedule an appointment for your free case consultation.