Many California motorcyclists do all they can to stay alert, obey traffic laws, drive defensively and protect themselves. Sometimes, the extra care bikers take save them from getting hurt or killed in a motorcycle accident. Sometimes, despite all these precautions, negligent drivers cause crashes leading to severe injuries.
You don't have to guess who ends up being the most likely accident victim. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,957 motorcyclists lost their lives in 2012 collisions. Another 93,000 bikers survived motorcycle accidents but suffered harm like neck, head and brain injuries or permanent disabilities.
In California, during the same year, 415 motorcycle riders died. Twenty-nine percent of those motorcyclists had some alcohol in their systems. Twenty-three percent were legally intoxicated.
The NHTSA reported 43 percent of bikers who died in 2012 single-vehicle motorcycle crashes had blood alcohol content levels of at least 0.08 percent, the legal limit. Across the country, 1,335 legally-intoxicated motorcycle operators or passengers died in accidents. Alcohol at lower BAC levels was present in the systems of another 360 fatally-injured riders.
More than 2,300 fatal accidents that year involved motorcycles and a second vehicle. In more than 40 percent of those accidents, the driver was making a left turn when the vehicles collided. At the time of the crash, bike riders were either going straight or engaged in overtaking vehicles.
Passing a vehicle can be dangerous for less-visible motorcyclists, who are hidden in drivers' blind spots. It's also true many passenger car and truck drivers do little more than glance quickly in a rearview mirror, before changing lanes. It's very easy to lose sight of a motorcyclist when you're not looking for bike riders in the first place.
Statistics show motorcyclists can do more, like avoid alcohol, to prevent accidents. Bikers can't control drivers' behavior. Injured motorcyclists may file legal claims against careless drivers who cause accidents.