Motorcycle safety starts with the bikers, but other drivers also are responsible for keeping the roads safe for them. Law enforcement officers also play a role by making sure they keep a watchful eye for violations that can lead to crashes.
The teamwork that is happening in California seems to be working. The number of fatal motorcycle crashes decreased almost 30 percent from 2016 to 2017. This is a great stride for motorcycle safety. Yet, as long as there are still deaths and serious injuries occurring, there remains work to be done.
In 2016, there were 586 bikers killed. That figure decreased to 406 in 2017, which was an almost 30 percent drop. This alone is good news, especially when you consider that the national drop was much smaller — 5.6 percent. There were only three states and Washington, D.C. with bigger decreases than California.
There are many reasons why this reduction might have occurred. One is that, in 2017, the Bay Area had an unusually wet winter. This may indicate that fewer motorcyclists ventured out onto the roads. The troubling fact here is that it isn’t possible to rely solely on bad weather to prevent biker deaths.
Is California leading the way in improving safety?
One important point to note here is the California is the only state that has legalized lane-splitting for motorcyclists. As long as their speeds are below 50 mph, bikers can cut between lanes of traffic. Some believe that this helps to keep drivers more alert to the bikers’ presence. Proponents of lane-splitting believe that the practice can actually save motorcyclists from being involved in rear-end crashes since they can maneuver between vehicles if necessary.
Another big factor is that law enforcement officers have adopted more of a zero-tolerance attitude toward unsafe driving by motorists. They are more likely to pull drivers over for things like following too closely, driving too fast, improper turns and illegal lane changes.
Until the number of deaths and serious injuries is zero, motorcyclists will always have to wonder how safe their rides will be. Motorcyclists who get into accidents caused by at-fault motorists can seek compensation for their damages and injuries.