Avoiding Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents on California Roads
Most motorcyclists will say there’s an indescribable sense of freedom that no car can replicate. Riding offers a connection to the world and feeling of Zen by bringing the rider to the present moment and shutting out distracting thoughts.
It can also be dangerous.
There are more than 800,000 motorcycles registered in California. When looking at the number of motor vehicle deaths in the state, about 15% involve motorcyclists. Add to that another 14,000-plus injured. Motorcyclists suffer a wide range of injuries, including catastrophic.
There is no denying the liberated feeling and exhilaration of riding a motorcycle, but there also is no refuting that a motorcycle is one of the smallest moving vehicles on any roadway. Motorcyclists also have little protection when they collide with another vehicle.
According to a report released in April 2021 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclist fatalities in the U.S. occurred nearly 29 times more frequently than passenger cars per vehicle miles traveled. When looking from the context of registrations in the U.S., the motorcyclist fatality rate is six times higher than passenger car occupants and nine times higher than light-truck occupants.
Other statistics from the report include the following:
- 42% of motorcyclists killed in single-vehicle crashes were impaired by alcohol
- 30% of motorcyclists in fatal crashes were riding without a valid motorcycle license
- Motorcyclist deaths saw a slight decrease from 2018 to 2019 (5,038 to 5,014) but there was a 2% increase in motorcyclists injured in the same period
- 451 motorcyclists were killed on California roads, the second-highest in the U.S. (Florida has 559 fatalities)
A motorcycle’s smaller size makes it easily hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. For this reason, riders need to take steps to make themselves more visible to the motorists around them and reduce the chance of a motorcycle accident.
Motorcyclists should do the following to avoid blind spots and other accidents:
- Every vehicle is different, but blind spots are generally on the sides of a car or truck—particularly at the rear. A motorcyclist should never linger in this area and should pass the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible.
- Motorcyclists should wear bright, high-visibility colors or reflective clothing and gear to make themselves more apparent. Headlights should always be on, even in the middle of the day.
- No one should ride a motorcycle if they have had any alcohol or if they are sleep-deprived.
- Maintain focus on surroundings and anticipate the movements of other vehicles.
- California has a mandatory helmet law. They should be always worn by riders and passengers. Boots, gloves, jackets, and other sturdy clothing can also provide some protection.
The California Motorcyclist Safety Program through the state highway patrol offers motorcycle safety courses for both beginner and experienced riders.
Occupant Vehicle Accountability
Staying safe is not only the responsibility of the motorcyclists. Drivers of cars, trucks and other vehicles also have a duty to be aware of their surroundings and to look for motorcyclists.
California allows for lane sharing, meaning a motorcyclist can travel in the same lane as another vehicle. Lane sharing is designed to lessen the Golden State’s famous road congestion and is often used when a motorcycle wants to pass a vehicle. Not only should drivers remember road sharing is allowed in California, but they should also keep in mind that motorcyclists may need to make sudden movements to avoid debris on the road.
Other tips for car and truck drivers include:
- Properly adjusting side-view and rearview mirrors can greatly reduce blind spots. Take the time to check mirrors before every drive.
- Before changing lanes, drivers should look in the rearview mirror, then the side-view mirror, and then look over their shoulders to eliminate most blind spots.
- Be especially mindful when making a left-hand turn. Many car-motorcycle accidents happen when the car doesn’t see an oncoming motorcyclist and turns left in front of them.
- Drivers should use their turn signals even if they don’t see other vehicles around them. It is still possible that a motorcycle is nearby. The turn signal gives them time to get out of the way before you make a change.
- Stay present. Texting, thinking of something else, and other driving distractions will increase the likelihood of a blind spot collision.
- Some accidents happen while the passenger vehicle is not even in motion. Opening a car door without first checking for motorcyclists could have devastating consequences.
Compensation for Motorcycle Injuries
Not every accident is a potential personal injury case. Sometimes accidents are just that – accidents. Yet there are times when distracted, careless, or reckless driving causes the accident. If you have been injured in an accident or your motorcycle sustained damage because of another’s negligence, our skilled attorney at the Law Office of Robert J. Kaiser can evaluate your case during a free consultation.
Attorney Robert Kaiser has more than 20 years of experience fighting for fair compensation on behalf of his clients. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact us right away. The statute of limitations in California for personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident or one year from the date the injury was discovered.
For your complimentary case evaluation, contact us through our online form or call us at (661) 441-3446.