Motorcycle accident deaths have been on the rise for the last two decades, especially in Southern California. According to a news report in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, motorcycle crash fatalities have more than doubled since 1997, and summer time is especially deadly for motorcyclists. In fact, the number of motorcycle accident deaths is usually at its highest in July, statistics show. Officials who fear the worst this summer are reaching out for new tools from public safety campaigns to riding classes and free fluorescent vests that could make riders more visible.
With the recent legalization of the practice of lane-splitting in California where motorcyclists are permitted to ride in between vehicles on the freeway, concerns are rising. From 1996 to 2016, motorcyclist deaths continued to rise from 5.7 percent of the total number of deaths in the United States to more than 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. And motorcycles only constitute 3 percent of all registered vehicles nationwide.
The number of motorcycle deaths went from 2,320 in 1994 to 5,286 in 2016. From 2015 to 2016, the number of deaths spiked 6 percent. California ranks in the top 15 of the 50 states in fatalities. Nevada had the highest rate at 22.6 percent. In California, motorcycle deaths accounted for 15.1 percent of total auto accident deaths in 2016. That year, 566 motorcyclists were killed statewide, an 11 percent increase from 494 deaths in 2015. About 14,400 were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2016.
Safety advocates say driving under the influence of alcohol, legalized marijuana, excessive speed, distracted driving, and newer, faster bikes may be causing this increase in fatal motorcycle accidents. Add to this, the increase in the number of riding days due to climate change, and you have a perfect storm.
Tips to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents
With summer in full swing in Southern California, here are a few steps motorcyclists can take to prevent these horrific crashes:
- Eliminate all possible distractions when you drive. Be alert and focused at all times when you ride.
- It’s best to assume that no car can see you. Oftentimes, motorcyclists tend to fall within drivers’ blind spots. Making this assumption that no one can see you will help you avoid making poor judgment calls.
- Check your mirrors often to see what is going on behind you as you ride.
- Keep your distance from cars. If you see a car merging into your lane, give the driver enough room to maneuver. At a red light, stop to the side of the lane to reduce the risk of being rear-ended.
- Be mindful of our speed.
- Maintain your motorcycle by changing the oil regularly and replacing worn-out parts.
It is an unfortunate fact that even when you ride carefully, you are still at risk for a motorcycle accident. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident in Southern California, contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.