The California roads are filled with motorcyclists. This is true in Sonoma County, Marin County and throughout the Golden State. In general, people driving passenger vehicles and trucks are attentive to safety when they are sharing the road with motorcycles. However, the sheer lack of protection riders have – even if they are wearing the best possible equipment and a helmet – places them in jeopardy of accidents with catastrophic injuries and loss of life.
These accidents can cause a great strain on people personally, financially and emotionally with medical expenses, lost wages and the need for long-term treatment and care. Being aware of the facts about motorcycle accidents and safety initiatives are positive steps, but that will not prevent many crashes from happening. Those impacted should think about their future.
Motorcycle Awareness Month highlights common safety challenges for riders
Statistics say that California has approximately 1.4 million people with motorcycle licenses and around 900,000 bikes in the state. May 2022 was dubbed Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. With that, the California Highway Patrol was advising drivers and riders and anyone else on the road on how to maintain safety. Ironically, despite the number of risks on the road including drivers who are distracted, are under the influence, behave recklessly, speed or get behind the wheel too drowsy to drive safely, the biggest factor in motorcycle accidents is believed to be vision-related. Specifically, riders need to be seen and drivers need to watch for them.
Anecdotally, veteran riders tell stories as to how many near-misses or actual accidents they have had and lived to talk about. Riders must pay strict attention to what they are doing and watch for vehicles that might be placing them in danger. Of course, failure to see riders is inexorably connected to distraction. In recent years, distracted driving has become so prominent that states have had trouble keeping up with how to mitigate it. It is most commonly tied to cellphone use, but there are myriad distractions that can remove a driver’s attention from the road.
Injury statistics are getting worse
The National Safety Council (NSC) tracks trends in motorcycle accidents and found that in recent years, there has been a troubling increase. In 2020, although only 3% of registered vehicles are motorcycles, they account for a major number of fatalities at 14%. They also account for 18% of fatalities for vehicle occupants and 4% of injuries. For that year, there was an 11% rise from the previous year. In the prior decade, fatalities rose by 20%.
There was some positive news as injuries reduced by 2%. Since 2016, there was a reduction in injuries by 21%. Still, it has been on the increase in the past several years. Surprisingly, 78% of the fatal motorcycle accidents in 2020 happened in good weather. This disabuses the notion that inclement weather was a factor in many crashes. Half happened in the daytime, dispatching another theory that nighttime riding was when the bulk of the crashes occurred. For those who think alcohol was a factor – a common perception in Sonoma – almost three-quarters of accidents were not alcohol-related.
After motorcycle accidents, many issues will inevitably need to be addressed
A key to motorcycle accidents is to gather all the relevant evidence to assess the case and determine a strategy. People may not be cognizant of their rights when they are injured or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident. Considering all the available options and having guidance is key to trying to achieve a positive result.