In sunny southern California, motorcyclists can ride year-round. But California is the third-deadliest state for motorcyclists, with 386 riders tragically losing their lives in the Golden State in 2011.
A pilot study performed by the NHTSA on motorcycle crash causation looked at crashes in Orange County and found that most wrecks occur on interstates and arterial roadways in commercial/business areas.
All too often, motorcyclists are injured despite their best efforts to be safe. Research suggests that accidents between motorcycles and other vehicle are the fault of car and truck drivers in a majority of cases.
Drivers are supposed to share the road with motorcycles. When they fail to do so and riders suffer injury as a result, negligent drivers can be held liable for medical treatment and other damages.
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Motorcycle Accidents in California
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is currently performing the most comprehensive motorcycle crash research effort in more than 30 years. The study, expected in 2015, should provide a wealth of information on what causes motorcycle crashes.
Current national motorcycle accident statistics show just how dangerous motorcycle crashes are.
- 4,612 motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2011—2 percent more than in 2010. Of these, 94 percent were riders and 6 percent were passengers.
- 81,000 motorcyclists were injured in crashes in 2011, compared to 82,000 in 2010.
- Motorcyclists killed in crashes accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2011, despite the fact that motorcycles account for only 3 percent of all registered U.S. vehicles and only 0.6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.
- The fatality rate for motorcyclists is 6 times the rate for passenger car occupants.
- Motorcyclist deaths more than doubled between 1999 and 2008.
- The highest motorcyclist death and injury rates are among 20-24-year-olds, followed by 25-29-year olds.
Until the new study is released, state data is often the most revealing source of motorcycle crash information. In Florida, where motorcycle deaths are the second-highest in the country, the Department of Transportation recently completed a study that analyzed 10 years of motorcycle crashes.
According to the FDOT study, car and truck drivers are at fault 60 percent of the time when there is a collision between two-wheel and four-wheel vehicles. Senior researcher Chanyoung Lee attributes this to drivers failing to yield to motorcycles because they are smaller in size and therefore less visible.
FDOT driver surveys have uncovered another noteworthy trend. Among drivers living in the same area, drivers who have motorcycle licenses report seeing motorcycles more frequently than drivers who do not have motorcycle endorsements. Awareness by car and truck drivers, in other words, is a key factor in motorcycle crashes.
Unaware motorists, or distracted drivers, are a major danger on American’s roadways. More than 3,300 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011.
That same year, 10% of all injury crashes were blamed on driver distraction. Daily in the U.S. more than 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured by drivers who take their full attention from the road. Cell phone use, particularly texting, endangers driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety. Texting while driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Study performed by the Centers for Disease Control shows that among nonfatal motorcycle crashes, the body parts injured most are:
- Leg or foot (30%)
- Head/Neck (22%)
- Upper trunk (20%)
- Arm/hand (18%)
- Lower trunk (8%)
A 2008 federal study found that motorcyclists with a single leg or foot injury — common injuries in motorcycle crashes — had a median hospital charge of $20,745. Motorcyclists with a lower-extremity injury, combined with other injuries, had median hospital charges of $56,288.
Helmet use by motorcyclists saves lives. California mandates that all motorcycle operators and passengers wear helmets when riding.
Still, even when helmets are worn, crash injuries can be severe and even fatal. Of the 386 motorcycle riders killed in California in 2011, 93 percent were wearing helmets.
Speak With an Experienced California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
The statistics presented on this page make clear that a motorcycle accident can leave a rider with severe injuries and thousands of dollars in medical bills and other costs.
If you need help dealing with insurance companies and adjusters, turn to the trusted lawyers of Avrek Law Firm. Our motorcycle accident attorneys have years of experience representing motorcycle accident victims.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Traffic Safety Facts—Motorcycles; Motorcycle Crash Causes and Outcomes: Pilot Study
- The California Highway Patrol: California Motorcyclist Safety Program
- California Department of Motor Vehicles: Motorcycle Handbook Preparing to Ride
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Motorcycle Crash-Related Data; Distracted Driving
- Sun Sentinel: Car drivers cause most crashes with motorcycles, study finds