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4 Common Motorcycle Crashes and How to Avoid Them

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of injury and death among people ages 1-65. Of those, accidents involving motorcycles are the most deadly.  

Riders should take every precaution to avoid potentially life-threatening accidents. Helpful actions include wearing protective gear and taking rider education courses. Still, that may not be enough.  

California motorcycle accident attorneys urge motorcyclists to become familiar with four common motorcycle crashes and tips on how to avoid them. 

1. Left-Turning Cars

Passenger vehicles too often turn into the path of oncoming motorcyclists, causing devastating injury crashes. While drivers may look for other cars before making a turn, motorcycles are difficult to see, and their rate of speed is hard to assess. 

According to the NHTSA, cars turning into a motorcycle’s path account for nearly one-third of all motor vehicle accidents. Motorcyclists need to be especially alert to these situations and take proactive measures to avoid them:

  • Be cautious at intersections.
  • Reduce speed at intersections.
  • Be aware of traffic gaps where cars might enter.
  • Watch for turn signals and turned wheels on vehicles.
  • Be aware of vehicles in turn lanes.
  • Increase visibility with operational headlights and bright colors.

2. Unsafe Lane Changes

Maneuvering into neighboring traffic lanes increases risks for collisions. Even a driver paying close attention may not see a car, or particularly a motorcyclist, tucked into their blind spot. 

Motorcyclists can take several actions to avoid lane change collisions: 

  • Do not travel directly next to other vehicles.
  • Avoid lingering in blind spots. 
  • Recognize driver behaviors that indicate a lane change, i.e. checking mirrors, looking over shoulders 
  • Watch for turn signals or drifting. 
  • Be aware of situations that increase lane changes, i.e., slowing traffic and upcoming freeway exits.

3. Lane Splitting

Lane splitting, while extremely dangerous, is legal in California.  Motorcyclists need to note that other drivers do not expect motorcyclists to drive between cars. 

Additionally, the confinement of a motorcycle between lanes of traffic makes it difficult for a motorcyclist to take evasive action, especially when traveling at a high speed.  

The CHP recommends these safety tips for motorcyclists when lane splitting:

  • Avoid lane splitting next to big-rigs, motorhomes, buses, and other large vehicles
  • Splitting lanes between far left lanes of traffic is safer than splitting other lanes
  • Do not linger in blind spots
  • Increase visibility with high-beam headlights and bright-colored gear

4. Head-on Collisions

Head-on collisions account for the deadliest type of crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles. These accidents are commonly caused by driver distraction, the influence of alcohol or drugs, fatigue, poor visibility, and unsafe passing of other vehicles.  

The National Safety Council’s four Rs of defensive driving can help motorcyclists avoid head-on collisions:

  • Read the road: be aware of the road ahead, your surroundings, and other vehicles.
  • Ride to the right: maneuver to the right as oncoming vehicles near or cross the centerline.
  • Reduce speed: reduce speed for greater control in response to upcoming hazards or threats. 
  • Ride off the road: steer off the road at a reduced speed to avoid an oncoming car.

California Motorcycle Accident Attorneys 

California motorcycle accident attorneys want you to be safe and enjoy your ride.  Understanding that all drivers assume risks on the roadway, accident attorneys know that motorcyclists are especially vulnerable. 

If you or someone you know has been injured in a California motorcycle accident, it’s imperative you contact an experienced California motorcycle accident attorney.  You are entitled to the same representation and right to compensation as any other motorist, and you deserve a complete and fair assessment of your case.  Contact our office today.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.