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Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Riding a motorcycle is a favorite pastime of many citizens across California.  The weather, scenery, and ample highway routes make riding a motorcycle a popular means of transportation across the state. While many rides are enjoyed without incident, accidents happen.  When those accidents involve a motorcycle, it is almost impossible to avoid injury to the motorcyclist, even when proper protective gear is worn.  Motorcycle riders are well informed of ways to drive carefully and avoid accidents, but they can’t control the actions of other drivers and the environment.  This article explains the most common causes of Los Angeles motorcycle accident, how to avoid them, and what to do if you are involved in a collision while riding a motorcycle. A motorcycle accident lawyer can assist in negotiating the claim.

The Four Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

The four most common causes of motorcycle accidents are: 

  1. Negligence of Drivers
  2. Inclement Weather
  3. Poor conditions on the road, and
  4. Driving under the influence

While some of these causes, such as driving under the influence, can be completely avoided, others are outside of the control of the motorcyclist.  Despite those unavoidable risks, there are many things motorcycle riders can do to stay safe and prevent the likelihood of these types of accidents. 

Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accident

Negligence of Drivers

Negligence is a legal term which means that someone failed to act reasonably, and their failure caused injury to another person.  The overwhelming majority of vehicle accidents are caused by negligence – drivers have a duty to drive in a way which avoids injuries to others, and when they breach that duty, they must be held accountable. People who don’t own or operate motorcycles don’t always know the ways to safely share the road with motorcyclists.  Accidents which occur when a car collides with a motorcycle happen because the driver doesn’t see the motorcycle or they don’t understand how fast a motorcycle is driving or how close they are to other cars.  

A good rule to follow while riding a motorcycle is to assume that you are invisible to cars and drive accordingly.  While this disproportionately burdens motorcyclists, it is worth it if it keeps them safe.  Leave plenty of space between you and other vehicles on the road in order to account for erratic movements, such as lane changes without signals, improper braking, running red lights, or making improper turns.  Keeping a distance will give you enough time to react to the actions of those drivers and avoid accidents and injuries. 

Another way to help avoid accidents with cars on the road is to wear bright colors or garments which stand out – especially if you are riding at night.  Helmets with bright, glow in the dark spikes or paint will catch the attention of drivers around you, as will brightly colored jackets or reflective vests.  Make sure your brake light is working properly and that you have lights on while driving at night. 

As simple as it seems, another good way to avoid motorcycle accidents is to follow traffic laws.  When riding a motorcycle, it is very tempting to use the size and speed of the motorcycle to get ahead in traffic or just to have fun.  Weaving between cars, driving on the shoulder, or doing tricks while other drivers are on the road significantly increases the likelihood of an accident. 

Inclement Weather

When there is inclement weather, such as rain, thunderstorms, earthquakes, or sleet, the motorcycle should stay parked. Motorcycles are great ways to get around when the weather is clear, but they simply aren’t equipped to drive in inclement weather, and doing so greatly increases the risk of an accident.  Motorcycles can easily hydroplane or get stuck in standing water, and because of the size of motorcycles, this can destroy the engine and cause the rider to be injured.  Additionally, other drivers may less visibility during heavy rains or other weather events, increasing the chances of a crash. 

Before going out for a ride, check the forecast.  If bad weather is inevitable, find another way to travel.  If there is only a chance, but not a certainty, that bad weather is coming, make sure you are prepared with a backup mode of transportation and a way to secure your bike and get it back home or in a secured parking spot.  If you find yourself driving and an unexpected storm comes along, get off the road and in a covered area as quickly as possible.  While waiting out a storm may make you late to your destination, it is much better to arrive safe with an undamaged motorcycle.

Poor Road Conditions

Poor road conditions may be caused by weather, but they can also occur due to construction, repairs, or due to the aftermath of accidents or storms.  Sedans and trucks are large and can drive over potholes, debris, and other road hazards with little or no effect on their vehicles or safety.  For a motorcycle, driving over those items can cause serious damages or an upset.  It isn’t always possible to know about poor road conditions before you encounter them while driving, but if you are aware of a construction zone, an area affected by an earthquake or severe storm, or a highway which is in disrepair, avoid riding your motorcycle there if possible until the conditions improve.  Don’t risk driving over debris or other hazards as it is not possible to ensure that it won’t seriously damage your motorcycle or cause you to be injured in the process. 

Driving Under the Influence

There is no excuse to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Alcohol affects vision, reaction time, and judgment – all of which are crucial when driving a motorcycle.  In single-vehicle motorcycle accidents which result in death, one half involve drugs or alcohol in the motorcyclist’s system. When an accident involves only the motorcyclist, it is usually the result of being ejected from the motorcycle or colliding with a tree, concrete barrier, or other element on the road.  Unlike cars, motorcycles do not have airbags, emergency reporting systems, seat belts, or other advanced systems which can lessen the impact of an accident and avoid death.  It is imperative to have a plan for transportation if you are going to indulge in drugs or alcohol which allows you to leave the motorcycle safely parked. 

What to Do if You’re Involved in a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident

Whether you are the one on the motorcycle or the one who collided with a motorcyclist, make sure you have a plan in place in the event of an accident.  Contact emergency services to tend to any injuries, move the vehicles out of the road to avoid continuing traffic if possible, take photos of your injuries and damages to the vehicles and road structures, and get medical treatment as soon as possible.  Contact someone to pick up your motorcycle and have it thoroughly inspected before taking it on the road again to make sure there aren’t any latent defects which could cause a malfunction. If there are any injuries (no matter how minor) or if the property damage sustained exceeds $1,000.00, you are required to report the accident in California within ten (10) days. 

Once you are safe, contact a personal injury attorney to take care of the next steps for you. A personal injury attorney can assist in negotiating the claim to any insurance companies responsible, make sure you are able to receive treatment for your injuries, and hold the other driver accountable if the accident was caused by their negligence.  Personal injury attorneys with experience in handling motorcycle accidents are familiar with the complications and stresses which arise in negotiating settlements and can ease the stress for you while you focus on healing and getting back on the road. 

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Glendale CA 91206

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