Are motorcycles dangerous to drive? In California, the answer to that is yes. Let’s look at some of the data to see why.

According to the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were 4,762 motorcycle accidents in California in 2019. These accidents resulted in 474 fatalities and 4,288 injuries.

In terms of demographics, the majority of motorcycle accident fatalities (57%) were male, and the largest age group represented was those between the ages of 50 and 54 (14%). Most motorcycle accidents occurred on weekdays (70%), and the majority (53%) occurred between the hours of 3pm and 9pm.

The leading cause of motorcycle accidents was unsafe speed, which was a factor in 31% of accidents. Alcohol was a factor in 27% of accidents, and inattention on the part of the motorcyclist was a factor in 23% of accidents.

In terms of location, most motorcycle accidents occurred on urban roads (66%), and the majority (73%) occurred at intersections. Single-vehicle motorcycle accidents were more common than multi-vehicle accidents (55% versus 45%).

It’s important to note that these statistics only include accidents that were reported to the CHP. There may be additional motorcycle accidents that were not included in these figures.

But do you know the most common causes of motorcycle accidents?

What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in CA?

If you’re first guess is speed, you’re right! Here is a list we compiled of the most common causes of these crashes.

  1. Unsafe speed: Exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for road conditions is a leading cause of motorcycle accidents.
  2. Alcohol impairment: Operating a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair a rider’s judgment and reaction time, leading to accidents.
  3. Inattention: Distractions such as texting or looking at a map can take a rider’s attention away from the road, increasing the risk of an accident.
  4. Lack of experience: Riders who are new to motorcycle operation may not have the skills or experience to safely navigate the road.
  5. Lane splitting: Riding between lanes of stopped or slow-moving vehicles, a practice known as lane splitting, can be dangerous and increase the risk of an accident.
  6. Road hazards: Potholes, debris, and other hazards in the road can cause a motorcycle to lose control and crash.
  7. Poor weather conditions: Rain, snow, and other poor weather conditions can make it more difficult to operate a motorcycle safely.
  8. Vehicle defects: Defective motorcycle parts can cause accidents if they fail while the motorcycle is in operation.
  9. Following too closely: Riding too closely behind other vehicles can increase the risk of an accident if the lead vehicle brakes suddenly.
  10. Left-turn accidents: Motorcycles are often involved in accidents when a car turning left fails to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.

What makes motorcycle crashes more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents?

Motorcycles are more dangerous in crashes than other vehicles because they don’t have the same protective features, like airbags and metal frames. When a motorcycle crashes, the rider is more likely to be thrown off and hit the ground or other objects. This can cause serious injuries. Motorcycles also have a higher risk of head injuries, which can be very serious and cause long-term problems. In addition, motorcycle riders are more likely to have multiple injuries that require a lot of medical treatment. Lastly, motorcycle accidents often result in death more often than other types of vehicle accidents. In 2019, motorcycles made up only 3% of registered vehicles in the US but were involved in 14% of all traffic deaths.

How many are fatal accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2019.

Motorcycle accidents are often more serious and fatal compared to car accidents due to the lack of protection that a motorcycle provides to its rider.

In 2019, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled, and nearly five times more likely to be injured. It is important for motorcyclists to always wear a helmet and other protective gear, and to drive defensively to reduce the risk of being involved in a fatal accident.

To NTHSA facts you might find interesting

  1. In 2019, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States.
  2. Motorcycle fatalities represented 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2019.
  3. In 2019, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled.
  4. Nearly 5 times more motorcyclists were injured in traffic crashes in 2019 compared to passenger car occupants.
  5. In 2019, 37% of motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
  6. In 2019, 48% of motorcycle fatalities occurred in single-vehicle crashes.
  7. In 2019, 49% of motorcycle fatalities occurred on rural roads.
  8. In 2019, 51% of motorcycle fatalities occurred in urban areas.
  9. In 2019, 59% of motorcycle fatalities occurred on weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
  10. In 2019, 75% of motorcycle fatalities occurred between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight.

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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.