Facts and Statistics of Motorcycle Crashes in California

By far, California has the most registered motorcycles of any of the 50 states. In a recent year, California had 822,844 motorcycle registrations, while the second-highest state, Florida, only had 587,499. The numbers continue sharply decreasing after that, and most states have fewer than 300,000 registered motorcycles.

It is no surprise that California is the most popular among motorcyclists due to the greater population, mild climate, and miles and miles of coastline. However, the number of people enjoying motorcycle riding throughout California also means that there is a higher risk of motorcycle accidents and injuries, which can lead to devastating losses for motorcyclists and their families.

Motorcycle Crashes and Fatalities

Reports indicate that motorcycle fatalities have generally been increasing in California for the past two decades, and nearly twice as many motorcyclists died in a recent year than in 1997. In a single year, the following were reported:

  • 14,400 injuries from motorcycle crashes
  • 566 deaths from motorcycle crashes

The counties with the highest number of reported motorcyclist injuries or fatalities are as follows:

  • Los Angeles County
  • San Diego County
  • Orange County
  • Riverside County
  • San Bernardino County

It is estimated that about 80 percent of crashes involving a motorcycle result in injuries or fatalities. This is a much higher rate of injury than for occupants of passenger cars and SUVs.

About three-quarters of motorcycle crashes involve a collision between a motorcycle and a car or another type of passenger vehicle. This is one reason why the rate of injuries and fatalities for motorcyclists is so high since they have little protection from the impact of a larger, heavier vehicle.

Most motorcycle crashes in California occur after dark or on the weekends, and nearly one-fourth of crashes involve a rider who was intoxicated. Most males who die in motorcycle crashes are the operators of the bike, while most females who die are motorcycle passengers. It is important for anyone who rides a motorcycle to keep all of these risk factors in mind.

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcycle accidents are caused for many of the same reasons that other motor vehicle accidents occur. That said, the fact that motorcycles are much smaller and harder to spot makes them much more susceptible to accidents caused by driver inattention and carelessness. Some of the other ways that other drivers can cause serious crashes include:

  • Speeding
  • Impaired driving
  • Failure to yield
  • Sudden lane changes
  • Following  too closely

California and Lane Splitting

California is the only state in the country that allows lane splitting, which occurs when motorcyclists drive in between lanes of traffic. Often, motorcyclists do this when they are able to move faster than the traffic around them. While it is legal, it is also extremely dangerous, as many drivers are not expecting motorcyclists to be in between lanes. That said, if a motorcyclist is legally engaging in lane splitting and is injured by the negligence of another motorist, the motorcyclist is likely entitled to compensation for his or her accident-related injuries.