California's Most Common Motorcycle Accidents
UPDATED: February 16, 2020
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California undoubtedly has more motorcyclists than any other state due to its size and mild climate. As the laws of probability go, the more riders you have, the more accidents you'll see. We asked Claude Wyle, a California attorney and member of the Advocate Law Group network who has been practicing motorcycle law, and riding, for 25 years, to share his experience on the most common motorcycle accidents he sees in his practice. He told us that left turns in front of motorcycles and lane sharing are the most common.
Left turns in front of motorcycles
I think the most common type of motorcycle accident is the accident where a vehicle turns left in front of the motorcycle. Whether that's a bus, car or truck, it's probably the most common. The second most common accident is, of course, somebody making a lane change and just not seeing that the motorcycle is there and bumping and knocking them off their bike.
Let's start with the first one, although it's also related to the second one. Because motorcyclists can lane share and because they accelerate more quickly than cars, they're often in the lead on a roadway. They're also somewhat less easy to see in that they're not as wide or tall as a car and I notice that they also don't pose as much of a risk to motorists as does a semi coming at you. Many more car drivers will take a left in front of a motorcycle when they would not do so in front of an oncoming car.
What you have a lot of the time are two motorcyclists riding and another vehicle (car, truck, etc.) will let the first motorcycle go and then try and get in between the two motorcycles. For some reason, they tend to hit the second one. I see this time and time again and I have no idea why – other than perhaps the motorist thought that the headlight of a motorcycle was related to the other headlight of the motorcycle and they were really just one vehicle and once one had passed, they both had gone by. It's confusing; particularly because with a modern bike, a headlight on a motorcycle is on as soon as you turn the key on.
The second kind of accident, the lane sharing or lane changing cases, is usually just a product of the driver being unaware that the motorcyclist is there. The motorcyclist might have just changed lanes or might have just been lane sharing. However, he has the ability to go a little faster, break a little bit quicker and sometimes that violates the motorists expectation of where other traffic will be. They will look for cars, but they're not looking for motorcycles and it's just a question of how their mind works. They should be looking for motorcycles.
There are lots of motorcycles on the road and it's something that you need to look out for, but a lot of times people just look for what they think is dangerous to them. For example, if they're driving an SUV, what's dangerous to them is something bigger than them, so they're looking for big cars or trucks or buses and might not be looking for a motorcycle. So, the left turn in front case and the lane change case are by far the most common. There are many other kinds, but those are the most common.
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