There’s good news and bad news for California motorcyclists.
If you only glance at the headlines, the first thing that stands out to California residents is probably that California is one of the most deadly states in the nation for bikers — second only to Florida according to the statistics from 2015.
However, those headlines don’t really paint an accurate picture. Nationwide, motorcycle fatalities rose 10 percent in 2015 — but in California they actually fell by 7 percent that same year. The reason that Florida and California both rank so highly when it comes to motorcycle deaths may simply be the fact that those two states have significantly more motorcyclists than other states.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), which maintains the data used to determine the risk riders face, theorizes that Florida and California are highly attractive to bikers because of the weather. Motorcycles are more practical (and more fun) in areas where the weather is generally sunny and warm. That’s likely to increase both the overall number of riders in a state and the number of days that any given rider is on the road — which also increases the chances of that rider eventually being in an accident. In general, however, there are a lot more bikers on the road than in the past, probably due to a combination of things like milder winters in the last few years across the nation, cheaper gas prices and a better economy.
What, then, is California doing right in order to make motorcycle-related fatalities drop even as they increased nationwide?
It may simply be the fact that California is one of only 19 states that require helmets for all riders. The GHSA continuously emphasizes the need for legislation requiring helmets. Wearing the proper helmet can reduce the risk of dying in a crash by 37 percent, but studies have concluded that driver education just isn’t persuasive. Legislation (and fines), however, can bring about nearly 100 percent compliance.
Even with a helmet, it’s important to remember that motorcyclists face more dangers on the road than those driving other vehicles. If you’re in an accident because of another driver’s negligence, it’s important to consult an attorney — otherwise you may accept a settlement that doesn’t meet your needs. If you’re interested in learning more about how our firm approaches motorcycle accident claims, please visit our page.