Walnut Creek Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has recorded increases in motorcycle accident fatalities in 13 of the last 14 years. The statistics underscore just how serious motorcycle accident risks are, and the devastating nature of these accidents. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in the number of motorcyclists on our roads.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t necessarily coincided with increased motorist awareness of motorcyclists’ rights.

Motorcycle Accident Causes

Many motorists believe that motorcyclists have no place on the highways. This attitude creates a hostile and potentially hazardous situation for motorcyclists.  Such ignorance or lack of awareness towards motorcyclist rights can be seen in the fact that so many accidents are traced to the failure to yield to motorcyclists.  In fact, failure to yield is one of the biggest causes of motorcycle accidents.

In 1981, the Hurt Report, a groundbreaking motorcycle safety study, found that most motorcycle accidents occur due to several primary factors:

  • Failure to see the motorcycle by the car driver
  • Violation of the motorcyclist’s right-of-way

In fact, as many as two-thirds of motorcycle accidents were linked to these causes.  Flash forward to several decades later and not much has changed.  These two factors continue to be the major causes of motorcycle collisions.

Many accidents are also caused because motorists turn right in front of motorcycles, without considering that a motorcyclist has a much more serious risk of injury or death in the event of an accident.  The kind of accident that can occur in a situation like this can throw a motorcyclist several feet away from the point of impact, causing serious injuries or death.

Lane Splitting Laws in California: What Do the Riders Think?

Imagine this scenario: You are stuck in your car in bumper to bumper traffic and a motorcycle comes whizzing past you by splitting the lane between your car and the lane next to you. Is the motorcyclist committing an illegal traffic maneuver by driving between lanes? Well, the answer is no!

This answer may surprise you and as revealed in a survey conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety, you were not alone. The survey revealed that only 53 percent of people thought that lane-splitting by motorcyclists was legal.

Why did more than half of the people surveyed think that it was illegal? Well, interesting enough, California is the ONLY state to legalize lane-splitting by motorcyclists. While there is not an explicit code section in the California Vehicle Code that allows for lane-splitting, motorcyclists must still follow the basic speed rule that requires all persons to act reasonably in the operation of their vehicles. Specifically, it states that is unlawful to operate a vehicle at a speed which is unreasonable for the given traffic and roadway conditions. [California Law, Vehicle Code Section 22350]

Motorcyclists should be reminded that the key to safe lane splitting is driving in a “safe and prudent manner, being cognizant of overall traffic speeds, speed differences, spacing and lane changing patterns of surrounding traffic.”

Enhanced Risk of Injury In Motorcycle Accident Injuries

The toll in motorcycle accidents is so heavy, because these are typically devastating accident that resulted in serious injuries.  A motorcyclist has very little protection from injuries in an accident, except for his helmet.  Even a helmet may not completely guarantee protection from traumatic brain injuries.  As a result, a motorcyclist can suffer from a range of injuries, that include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal injuries, and blunt force trauma that can prove fatal.

The California accident lawyers at the Appel Law Firm LLP represent persons who have been injured in motorcycle accidents across California.