Whether you are in North County or another part of San Diego County, it is important to know that motorcycle crashes, and auto accidents more generally, are on the rise. While California does not have the deadliest roads in the U.S., it certainly does not have the safest ones, either.
According to a recent report in the Patch, traffic collisions are the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 55. Motorists in California should know that there were 3,623 deaths in motor vehicle crashes in 2016—one of the highest rates in the country—and that the road death rate is 9.2 per 100,000. Those figures place California at a rank of 38th in terms of the deadliest state roads in the country. Many of those collisions could be prevented, and the numbers are even worse when we look at motorcycle accident fatalities.
Motorcycle Accidents are Common in California
A recent article in The Mercury News cites the growing rate of motorcycle accident fatalities on California highways, neighborhood streets, and rural roads. In particular, the rate of deadly motorcycle crashes continues to rise in Southern California, including in San Diego County. As the article emphasizes, motorcycle crash deaths have become so common in Southern California that they have ceased to be “particularly newsworthy.” In any given month, there are dozens of motorcycle accidents in the state, and a majority of these collisions “garner only a few sentences in the newspapers.”
Since 1997, motorcycle crash rates in Southern California have more than doubled. To put that statistic another way, in the last 20 years, motorcycle fatalities have increased by more than 100%. Safety advocates refer to the increase as a “silent epidemic,” underscoring that many of these deaths happen during the summer months. July, in particular, is usually the most deadly when it comes to motorcycle accidents in the state.
In response to the growing rate of crashes, state authorities have developed public awareness campaigns, have provided free fluorescent vests to motorcyclists, and have created motorcycle safety classes. These efforts have been insufficient given that they have not reduced the rate of deaths (and in fact, as we noted, those rates have risen dramatically). Why are so many motorcycle crashes happening in Southern California?
Lane Splitting is Now Legal—and Dangerous—in California
One reason that motorcycle accidents have increased this year, commentators suggest, is the implementation of a new lane-splitting law in California. In 2017, lane splitting was legalized in the state, with those in favor of it arguing that it would help with traffic congestion and would help to prevent motorcyclists from overheating in the high Southern California temperatures. Some people who support the law suggest that making lane splitting legal helps to make riding safer because it provides boundaries for lane splitting, which motorcyclists do regardless of its legality.
Besides lane splitting, what explains the high death rates? There are more motorcyclists licensed in California than in other states, which means there are more motorcyclists on the roads. Given Southern California’s year-round warm weather, motorcyclists typically are on their bikes more often than riders in other states. Even so, the article suggests that the state needs to do more to assess the motorcycle accident death rate and to take preventive measures.
Contact a North County San Diego Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
See Related Blog Posts:
(image courtesy of Razvan Mirel)