Love it or hate it, lane-splitting is legal in California. But just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean it’s safe. The maneuver can still result in serious accidents even when performed safely with good judgment. Worse, failing to use good judgment could leave you liable for a motorcyclist’s or driver’s injuries and property damage.
A motorcycle accident lawyer in San Luis Obispo can help if you were accused of causing a wreck while riding legally or if you were injured by a lane-splitting motorcyclist. Our attorneys have extensive experience in this area with a long track record of success in cases similar to yours.
If you want to learn more about how we might be able to help you, schedule a free consultation by calling (805) 541-0300 or by contacting us online.
What is lane splitting?
As defined by California Vehicle Code Section 21658.1, lane splitting is driving a motorcycle with two wheels touching the ground between moving or stopped vehicles that are in the same lane.
Splitting lanes reduces the amount of space both the motorcyclist and the motorist have in their lane for reacting to maneuvers made by other drivers.
Some drivers might be surprised by the maneuver, and others might not see the motorcycle in their blindspot – either scenario can have a tragic ending if either person moves into the other’s path.
Why is lane splitting legal in California?
Lane splitting was made legal despite being dangerous due to one primary reason: traffic. California highways are notorious for frustrating traffic jams that can last for hours. Legalizing lane splitting was one way to try and relieve this problem, so long as it was done safely.
Restrictions on lane splitting
Just because lane splitting is legal doesn’t mean riders can make the move however they like, wherever they like. You still can’t ride on a highway shoulder since that’s not considered to be within two lanes of traffic. Riders also can’t lane split when conditions are dangerous, such as during bad weather, insufficient lighting, and when a road is in disrepair.
Lane splitting guidelines
If you’re going to lane split – or you’re sharing the road with a motorcycle – there are guidelines to follow to help everyone get to their destination safely.
Motorcyclists should only lane split when they’re traveling no more than 10-15 mph faster than the vehicles that surround them. The faster the motorcycle is going, the higher the risk of an accident occurring. Riders can perform the move on all roads, including undivided and divided streets as well as highways.
If you’re a driver in California, you should always be prepared for the possibility of a rider trying to split lanes. Of course, you should always pay attention to your surroundings, but be especially wary of riders when you’re in slowed or stopped traffic.
Stay in the center of your lane, listen for approaching motorcycles, and double-check your mirrors and blind spots before making a departure from your lane.
Lane splitting safety tips
If you’re a rider and splitting lanes, follow all safety rules. Here are a few additional tips to follow.
Always consider the environment before lane splitting. This not only includes the condition of the road, but also the size of the vehicles around you. Remember, you can’t split lanes if the weather is bad, there’s not enough lighting, or the road is in disrepair. You should also avoid splitting lanes between large vehicles like semi-trucks because they’ll have a lower chance of seeing you, as will cars in front of them.
The faster you go, the more of a chance you’ll be severely hurt if you’re in an accident. If you have to lane split, never do it when riding more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic.
If that traffic is moving at 30 mph or higher, lane splitting should be avoided because cars are more likely to make last-minute maneuvers, possibly without signaling, which could prove dangerous for you.
Splitting lanes is usually safer when you do it between the lanes on the left.
Don’t linger between vehicles, and always make yourself as visible as possible by wearing reflective or brightly colored gear and clothing.
Speak with Ernst Law Group if you’re in an accident
Even though lane-splitting is legal in California, that doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be able to avoid liability in an accident. The driver’s insurance company is more than likely going to claim you caused the wreck due to carelessness.
Unless you have a skilled Ernst Law Group motorcycle accident attorney by your side, it’s going to be hard for you to prove you were being careful. Give us a call at (805) 541-0300 or use our online contact form for a free review of your case.
Motorcycles have over a fatal accident risk over 25x higher than cars and trucks
Riders have to anticipate others’ mistakes, like sudden lane changes
40% of motorcycle riders were alcohol impaired at the time of their fatal crash
In addition to greater thrills, motorcycle owners face greater risks every single time they drive. Whether from a bad decision, other drivers’ carelessness, or sheer bad luck, motorcycle operators can easily end up in a serious accident that’s likely to cause injury or death. Even with so many factors outside their hands, riders can take a few steps to help them avoid the most common types of motorcycle accidents.
Around 25 riders died per every 100 million miles motorcycles traveled in 2015, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). That might not sound like much, but it’s a rate over 25 times higher than occupants of cars or light trucks. In total, 5,029 people died while riding on a motorcycle in 2015, and around 88,000 were injured.
Statistics like these reveal just how dangerous it can be to operate a motorcycle, especially in comparison to heavier vehicles that offer a bubble of protection.
Our San Luis Obispo motorcycle accident lawyers have seen far too many incidents that just add to these tragic statistics. You may not always be able to keep yourself out of every crash, but you can use the following 5 pointers to increase your odds of avoiding the most common motorcycle accidents.
Scan Every Intersection for Possible Threats as You Approach
Following traffic laws isn’t enough when you’re a light vehicle that’s hard to spot among traffic. Motorcycle operators have to give themselves an additional layer of protection by constantly scanning their surroundings for potential dangers. That way, they can plan ahead in case they need to make evasive maneuvers or suddenly stop.
This strategy is particularly important given the most common type of motorcycle accident caused by other drivers: turning left across opposing traffic right into the motorcyclist’s path. If a motorcycle operator is simply following the rules of the road, they may not have time to react to a careless driver putting up an unexpected roadblock.
But if the rider is scanning far ahead and around them for threats, they may have that crucial extra seconds’ worth of reaction time to possibly make their presence known or scoot around the path of turning cars.
Try to Anticipate Other Drivers’ Mistakes
You can’t predict the future, but you can predict instances of human carelessness based on past experience. For example, you can anticipate that a car you’re riding alongside might forget to check their blind spot or their sideview mirrors before making an abrupt lane change. This scenario is, in fact, one of the most common types of motorcycle accidents.
Practice defensive driving generally by anticipating scenarios where a driver could make a bad decision and put you in danger. You can then proactively start planning ahead or taking steps to reduce your risk.
In the lane change example, you could pull up alongside the driver’s window to be more visible or pass the vehicle outright so that you are no longer in a potential blind spot. As another example, you can slow while approaching an intersection where you know people tend to run through stop signs.
When Turning, Slow Down Ahead of Time, and Watch for Hazards
Turning is half the fun while riding on a motorcycle, but curves also pose significant dangers that can catch riders unaware.
The primary danger while turning is that a rider could hit an unexpected patch of loose material. Whether that material is gravel, dry leaves, slushy ice, or anything else, losing traction while leaning through a turn can quickly turn into a nasty spill. Riders can reduce their risk of such an accident by slowing before the turn, scanning ahead as much as possible, and avoiding suspicious-looking patches on the road.
Another danger of cornering on a motorcycle comes from entering the turn at too high a speed. The rider will end up understeering, possibly swerving into other traffic or off the road entirely. Again, make sure you get the majority of your braking done before a turn so that you can accelerate out of it, thereby regaining cornering control.
If you do happen to catch yourself in a turn you don’t seem to be making, you can lean hard with your knee hovering above the ground, thereby displacing your center of gravity and making your turning radius sharper.
Keep an Eye on Your Side Mirror
Motorcycle owners have much more to worry about when it comes to rear-end collisions. They are another of the most common types of motorcycle accidents, and they are far more dangerous to a small bike compared to a full-sized vehicle with a bumper.
Avoid riding around drivers who follow too closely. Give them the chance to pass you, or change lanes to get them off your tail. As you approach intersections or other areas where you may stop, maintain awareness of drivers behind you as you scan for possible dangers. You may stop in time to avoid getting hit by a left-turning driver, for instance, only to have a driver following behind skid into you.
Plan ahead for evasive maneuvers in case someone doesn’t stop in time or closes the gap between your vehicle and theirs. Identify safe areas of exit, including squeezing between lanes to get through other stopped cars. Avoid making sudden judgements, though, since evasion can lead to its own set of risks as drivers unexpectedly encounter a small motorcycle wriggling through traffic.
Motorcycle owners have to be more aware than other drivers, and they must make many more crucial split-second decisions over the course of their trip. Even a small amount of alcohol can be enough to turn a minor scare into a life-changing accident.
Speeding is another perennial problem for motorcycle safety, and it combines doubly with alcohol impairment. Around a third of all motorcycles involved in fatal single vehicle crashes were speeding at the time of the accident.
Remember You Can Call San Luis Obispo Motorcycle Accident Lawyers if You’re Injured
As we said before, sometimes no matter what you do, you may still find yourself in a serious motorcycle accident.
If you suspect that another driver was completely or partially at fault for your accident, they could responsible for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. You can reach out to San Luis Obispo motorcycle accident lawyers to take up your case and pursue your injury claim to the fullest extent of California law.
Always exercise caution while riding your motorcycle, and remember that you can contact our experienced attorneys for a free consultation if you think you may have a personal injury claim.
Yet another fatal motorcycle wreck was reported on November 10, 2018. Tragically, 42-year-old Mark Branford Hurd was killed when a pickup truck driven by John Ricker pulled in front of Mr. Hurd near the intersection of Wineman Road and Thompson Road in Nipomo. Mr. Hurd’s passenger was seriously injured.
This is yet another recent motorcycle crash. On October 6, 2018, 18-year-old Jordan Grant was killed when a car pulled into his path from El Campo Rd in Arroyo Grande. It is almost always the case that when cars and motorcycle collide the rider suffers severe injuries or is killed. No doubt this stems from the gross disparity between the motorcycle’s weight and safety features versus the car.
The NCIB has conducted an exhaustive literature review of motorcycle right-of-way crashes. They found that the attention of the other drivers and conspicuity of the motorcycle are the most common causes of crashes. Studies have shown that drivers tend to judge cars as arriving quicker than motorcycles. This means that if a driver is waiting to cross saw a car, he or she might properly judge the time to cross. But, if a motorcycle is the approaching vehicle, the driver is likely to overestimate the time he has to safely cross.
Undoubtedly, this is one of the top causes of fatal motorcycle crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that riders of motorcycles are 28 times more likely to be killed in a crash than are drivers of other types of vehicles. The reason is obvious – the rider has far less protection. This doesn’t make it the rider’s fault; to the contrary, it just increases the need for vigilance on the part of the driver.
Here are some ways to safely share the road with motorcyclists:
Be aware of dangerous intersections.42% of motorcycle crashes involve the driver of another vehicle making a left turn in front of the rider. The NHTSA recommends taking an extra moment or two to check your mirrors and to make sure nobody is in your blind spot. If you are turning at an intersection, make sure you have sufficient time to complete your turn. If you view is obstructed make every effort to move into a
position that avoids the obstruction.
Know your blind spots. According to NHTSA nearly half of the area around your car is a blind spot. There are no “close calls” with a car and motorcycle collision. Many times it’s not the force of the collision itself that causes the harm, but rather the fact that the collision, even if minor, causes the rider to fall from his bike, sometimes at freeway speeds.
Stay Alert. Motorcycles can be hard to see. The NHTSA reports that 41% of motorcycle crashes are caused by a driver’s failure to see the nearby motorcycle. Motorcycles can blend into the surroundings. For example, a green jacket might blend into trees or shrubs near the road. Construction or other temporary obstructions can block a driver’s view. Sometimes the configuration of a roadway can cause a visual obstruction. A hill approaching the crossing of a road at high-speed can be a deadly combination.
They key is to not make any turning maneuver until you are 100% sure that there is no approaching traffic. The few extra moments, or even a slight detour, is well worth it to avoid the disaster that can occur when a driver make an unsafe turn in front of a rider.
The recent crash is still under investigation according to the CHP. The condition of the driver of the truck will no doubt be a major focus. If drugs, alcohol, or even distracted driving were involved, the matter could be referred for criminal charges. If the driver of the truck made a tragic error in not looking to see that his path was clear there, will likely be no criminal charges.
However, civil liability for negligence is certainly possible for both Mr. Hurd’s family for wrongful death and his passenger’s claim for personal injury.
If you or loved have been hurt in a collision, please contact the Ernst Law Group at (805) 541-0300 for a no cost, no obligation consultation.
It’s hard to argue that riding a motorcycle can be exciting. The feeling of the open road, the wind whipping past your body and the power of the machine can all be thrilling. It’s not surprising to experienced riders that riding a motorcycle is becoming more popular every day.
The reality, though, is that the more popular riding becomes, the more novice riders that are on the road. People on a motorcycle are 30 times more likely to die in an accident than passengers in a car.
Anyone who is new to riding a motorcycle should only do so with extreme caution. Driving a motorcycle is not like driving a car, and it certainly isn’t like riding a bike. Taking such a powerful machine down the road comes with a serious responsibility. Here are tips for every motorcycle novice on today’s roadways from our San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyers.
1. Buy The Right Bike
If you go to a dealer to purchase your first motorcycle, they will help you find the right bike for you. If you purchase from a private seller, chances are slim that they will refuse to sell you the bike because it isn’t the right size for your frame. It’s up to you to make sure the bike fits.
Don’t buy a bike that is too heavy for you to maneuver when it isn’t running. Purchase a motorcycle that is easy for you to get on and off of. The rule of thumb is that your feet should rest flat on the ground when you are seated. If you have to reach with your toes to touch the pavement, the motorcycle is too large.
2. Choose the Proper Gear
After you choose the bike, you have to get the right gear. Even though it’s nice and hot in southern California, hopping on a motorcycle in shorts, a T-shirt and sandals is never a good idea. As the old saying goes, “Dress for the slide, not the ride.” That means you should have clothing on that protects you if you fall.
California law requires you to wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation. Your best option is a full-face helmet, though you can go with one that just protects your head. After all, you still want your face to look good if you do take a fall — and nearly 50 percent of all motorcycle crashes involve the face.
Other equipment you should have includes:
A riding jacket, either leather or textile with CE safety-rated armor
Riding pants made from leather or textile with CE safety-rated armor; NEVER ride in denim
Non-slip, oil resistant, durable boots that provide ankle support
Riding gloves made from durable material and CE safety-rated armor
Full-body riding suits are also available, but may be inconvenient
If your helmet doesn’t have a faceplate, goggles can protect your eyes from bugs and debris
3. Take a Class
You will need to take a class, or at least a test, before you can get a motorcycle endorsement added to your driver’s license, but it may not be enough. Enroll yourself in a safety course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).
These courses will give you a set of skills that can be invaluable as you ride down the highway and around your neighborhood. They can also help you save money on registration, insurance and other fees. Some manufacturers will even offer a discount on a new motorcycle if you’ve taken an approved class.
4. Ride Defensively
When you get your first motorcycle, you may be ready to hit the open road and rip through traffic. This is a bad move. No matter how visible you may try to make yourself, drivers will have a more difficult time seeing you than they would other cars. What’s more, some ill-tempered drivers may go out of their way to interfere with motorcycle riders.
Be a defensive rider. You’ll need to stay more alert than ever, with people using their phones and otherwise being distracted behind the wheel. Don’t tailgate other drivers, and watch out for sudden lane changes and other maneuvers from other drivers.
5. Watch for Common Hazards
What may be a minor issue for car drivers can be a massive problem for motorcycle riders. For instance, a pothole or patch of gravel could be a minor inconvenience for car drivers. But they could cause a serious accident for bikers. If you can’t avoid road hazards, do your best to slow down and use minimal steering input to navigate.
In the same vein, avoid riding in inclement weather if you can. The mountains around San Luis Obispo can cause storms to pop up suddenly, but for the most part, the weather forecast is decently reliable. Rain cause cause the roads to be slick, and other drivers tend to not drive as well in the rain. Stick to sunny, dry roads when you’re riding.
6. Be a Smart Rider
One of the most important pieces of safety gear that you have is already sitting right on top of your shoulders. Use your head when you ride. Common sense can save you from situations that would otherwise be harmful.
Make sure your bike is ready to go and all the systems work properly. Don’t perform maneuvers that are better left to the experienced rider. Remember, you’re a beginner. You don’t know everything about riding a bike, and the best way to learn is to take it slow.
Every rider has to start somewhere. Your somewhere doesn’t have to be on hundreds of miles of highway. Give yourself time to get used to your motorcycle and learn to drive in different weather conditions by practicing slowly and carefully. You have years ahead of you. Take a bit of time now to get some experience so you can enjoy your motorcycle that much more.
Talk to a San Luis Obispo Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Even if you do everything right, you still run the risk of getting in an accident. After all, about 60 percent of all motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers. If you are injured in a wreck, the San Luis Obispo motorcycle injury attorneys from Ernst Law Group are here to help.
Give us a call at 805-541-0300 or contact us online today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to fight for your rights.
Another tragic case was reported this week. An 18-year-old motorcyclist was killed on October 6, 2018 on Highway 101 just south of Arroyo Grande at the El Campo Road crossing. CHP Reports that the driver of a BMW turned left into the motorcyclist’s path of travel. There are only a few places in San Luis Obispo County where a cross street intersects with the Freeway without any traffic controls. We have seen numerous traffic collisions at the intersection of Wellsona Rd and Highway 101 in the north county. The Highway 101 / El Campo Rd is another spot where drivers intending to go North from El Campo Rd are forced to cross the southbound lanes of 101 and then merge into the northbound traffic. From my our driving history, we can attest that this is a harrowing experience.
Intersection of El Campo Road and Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo
To the West of the highway, there are many large homes and a golf course. Years ago, El Campo may have been a rural road without much traffic, but today it’s a busy street with a large number of people traveling north to San Luis Obispo. It’s not uncommon to hear about people who refuse to cross at El Campo, even though an alternative route can add 15 or more minutes to the trip. The driver of the BMW was reportedly not arrested. If this was a matter of a driver looking, but simply not seeing an oncoming motorcycle, it is a tragic mistake. The driver of the BMW, even if “just” negligent, is still liable for the wrongful death damages suffered by the motorcyclist’s family. The California DMV Handbook specifically warns drivers to be on the lookout for motorcycles. The NCBI has conducted an exhaustive literature review of motorcycle Right of Way crashes. Attention of the other drivers and conspicuity of the motorcycle are the most common causes of crashes. For some reason, human factors studies have shown that driver tend to judge cars as arriving quicker than motorcycles. This means that if a driver waiting to cross at El Campo saw a car, he or she might properly judge the time to cross. But, if a motorcycle is the approaching vehicle, the driver is likely to overestimate the time he has to safely cross. This is no doubt one of the factors that lead to a large number of motorcycle fatal crashes. The NTSB reports that riders of motorcycles are 28 times more likely to be killed in a crash than are drivers of other types of vehicles. The reason is obvious: the rider has far less protection. This doesn’t make it the riders fault; to the contrary, it just increases the need for vigilance on the part of driver. At Ernst Law Group, we have handled many motorcycle cases. Nearly all are tragic cases. It is important in handling any type of road crash case to examine if there is a public entity also liable for the loss. In this case, one must explore whether or not Cal Trans is responsible in part for failing to reroute traffic, installing an overpass, or putting in a traffic signal. These cases are known as Dangerous Condition of Public Property cases and require careful legal handling. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in San Luis Obispo, give our team a call at (805) 541-300 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve.
A motorcyclist has 28x more chance of being killed than a person in a vehicle.
Motorcyclists constituted 14% of all road fatalities in 2017.
Being involved in a motorcycle accident is frightening, to say the least. If you are lucky enough to walk away without injury, the experience will haunt your memory for the rest of your life. It’s nothing compared to the life-altering consequences of suffering serious injury. As San Luis Obispo motorcycle accident attorneys, we know that traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and broken bones are common results of such a powerful collision. Because the injuries and necessary medical care following this type of crash can be so severe, you may discover that filing a lawsuit to recover damages is your only option. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes following a motorcycle accident that negatively impact their chance at a successful judgment. If you are involved in a wreck, the steps you take immediately after are more important that you may think. We have put together a list of ten steps, based on our experience representing accident victims, that you should take if you are injured in a motorcycle accident.
Do not leave the scene of the accident even if it was a hit-and-run or you collided with a fixed object. Leaving scene constitutes a crime and means that you can be cited, even if you were injured. Always stay put and wait for law enforcement and other personnel to arrive and provide assistance and instruction.
2. Visit a Medical Professional
Your health and safety is a priority. Your first concern should be ensuring that you and your passenger receive any medical attention you may need. It’s important to seek the advice of a doctor even if you don’t think you were injured. Motorcycle accident are severe and you may be in shock. Let a doctor be the one to decide you are okay.
3. Always File a Report
It is important that you report each accident, no matter how minor. In some cases, when people strike a stationary object, they get back on their bike, drive a way and go about their lives. Every accident needs to be reported to the local authorities.
4. Gather Information at the Scene
Collect the information of anyone else involved in the accident. At a minimum, you need their insurance and contact information. You will also want to gather information from any witnesses that chose to stick around. These people may be able to help you should you decide to file a civil lawsuit.
5. Stay Level-Headed
Keep your cool. Emotions run high after any type of accident, but you may be furious if you believe that someone else was responsible for your wreck. Resist the strong urge you have to lash out. Chances are high that you will only make things worse.
6. Collect Photos of the Area
Take pictures of the scene. Your should document the area of the accident, the current weather conditions, and the road conditions. Trust us when we say that you cannot take too many pictures. At the worst, you’ll end up deleting some. At best, they can help prove your case.
7. Collect Photos of Your Vehicle
Take pictures of damage. Take pictures of your motorcycle from every possible angle. Don’t forget to take photos of any other vehicles involved in the collision, especially any damage to those vehicles.
10 Actions to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
Don’t utter anything that can be construed as taking blame for any or all of the accident. Keep in mind that what you can say can be used against you in a court of law, even if you are the one initiating the case. The same is true in civil court.
9. Be Wary of Your Insurance Offer
Don’t accept the first settlement offer you receive. Your insurance agent or the at-fault party’s insurance agent, depending on the circumstances of the accident, may offer you a settlement. Once you accept the offer, your case is over. Most attorneys work on a contingency basis and offer a free case evaluation. It won’t hurt to take a moment to speak with a legal representative about the settlement you’ve been offered.
10. Hire an Experienced Lawyer
Call an attorney. Even if you haven’t been offered a settlement by an insurance agent, speaking to a motorcycle accident attorney can be beneficial. An experienced advocate can review the details of your collision and help you determine if you have the necessary elements for a personal injury case. In some instances, an insurance settlement is your best option. In other cases, you will recover far more through a lawsuit. No one expects a motorcycle ride to turn into a devastating accident, but it happens on a daily basis. People start off on a relaxing ride that ends in catastrophic injury. When you are involved in a motorcycle wreck, the steps you take following the incident could make or break your ability to retrieve adequate and fair compensation. By following the tips above, you may be protecting your legal rights.
Our San Luis Obispo Motorcycle Attorneys Are Here to Help
If you are involved in a motorcycle collision, you need one of our San Luis Obispo motorcycle accident attorneys fighting by your side. We will dedicate ourselves to your case and use our experience on your behalf. No victim deserves to be placed in financial distress due to circumstances beyond their control. Trust our expert legal team to advocate for your rights in court. Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation and discover how we can help you.
Summer is officially in full swing. Kids are out of school, families are planning vacations and motorcyclists are taking to the streets in greater numbers. One important thing to note is that summer is more dangerous for motorcyclists than any other time of year. Both collision and fatality rates increase during the warm weather months.
There is nothing unique to the summer road that makes riding more dangerous. It is simply due to the sheer numbers of people who take to the roads, both urban and rural. Pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers and riders alike are sharing the streets now that vacation season has begun. The good news is there are things that everyone can do to reduce the risk of motorcycle accidents in San Luis Obispo this summer.
As a Driver
When you slip behind the wheel of your vehicle, be prepared to stay alert for motorcycles. Keep your eyes open and stay alert. Distracted driving is a large problem in the United States and is responsible for more accidents than anything else.
If you find yourself driving next to or behind a motorcycle, keep your distance. The more distance you can leave between your vehicle and a motorcycle means more time to stop if you need to. Don’t cut off a motorcycle when you pass, don’t steer into the path of a bike when you turn, and stay as far behind a motorcycle as you can.
As a Motorcyclist
There is close to nothing better than hitting the open road on two wheels. Don’t get so caught up in your joy that you forget you are sharing the road with people who may not be looking out for you. Always drive in a predictable way. Ride your bike steadily, avoiding weaving in and out of lanes of traffic, making sudden turns or slam on your brakes when you don’t need to.
Make sure that you are visible. Wear a helmet and the right clothing, but also ensure that your bike is well lit. Use hand signals when you turn in addition to your signals. The more people can see you, the less likely you are to be involved in an accident.
As a Bicyclist
Accidents between a bicyclist and a motorcyclist are rare, but they do happen. If you are pedaling your two wheels instead of hitting the gas, remember that you are bound by the same traffic laws as any other vehicle. Stay on the right side of the roadway, stop for intersections when you should and stay aware of your surroundings.
As a Pedestrian
It’s less likely that you will be struck by a motorcycle than you would a typical vehicle, but you’ve got to keep the possibility in your mind. Even if you aren’t struck, your actions could cause the motorcyclist to be involved in an accident of their own.
Don’t dart out from between cars or other obstacles if you are crossing the street, stick to marked crosswalks and make eye contact with drivers before you cross. Stay visible when you are walking by wearing light colored clothing and always keep your eyes focused on the path ahead.
If you happen to be involved in a motorcycle accident in San Luis Obispo, reach out to our team of personal injury attorneys. We will speak to you during a free case evaluation and advise you of your legal rights and options.
While motorcycle accidents may not be more common or occur more frequently than other types of accidents, they do typically result in a higher rate of serious injury and death. When you consider that a motorcyclist isn’t protected in the same way as the driver of a vehicle, it’s easy to see why.
There are several factors that come into play in order for a motorcycle accident to occur. Here are some of the most common.
1. Vehicles Making Left-Hand Turns
One of the most common, if not the most common, causes of motorcycle accidents is a vehicle turning left in front of a motorcycle rider. Just under half of all accidents involving motorcycles are caused by this maneuver. They most often occur when a motorcycle is either traveling straight through an intersection, attempting to pass the vehicle in front of them, or trying to overtake the vehicle.
A motorcyclist is less visible to a driver than another vehicle. It is not unusual for a motorcyclist to be somewhat permanently in the blind spot of a driver. Even if that driver looks in their mirrors, they may be unaware of the rider. You may think that a motorcycle is loud enough for any driver to hear, but this is not always the case.
2. Lane Splitting
Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist decides to travel between two lanes of cars. It normally happens when vehicles are moving slowly, such as in a traffic jam. This maneuver is dangerous because of the reduced amount of space in which a motorcycle has to travel and react. It’s also dangerous because vehicle drivers don’t expect someone to behave in this way, meaning they aren’t watching for it.
Whether or not a motorcyclist is at fault in this type of accident depends on whether lane splitting is legal in the state that the accident occurs and, if so, whether the biker performed the maneuver legally. In California, lane splitting is legal, but does not have specific guidelines attached to it. As such, a judge may also consider the behaviors of the driver of the vehicle and the motorcyclist just prior to the accident’s occurrence.
3. Speeding and Alcohol
Nearly 50 percent of accidents that involve a single motorcycle have speeding or alcohol as a contributing factor. Unfortunately, these accidents often result in serious injury or death.
4. Road Hazards
Motorcycles cannot handle road hazards like passenger vehicles. They are less stable and smaller in size. Slick pavement, dead animals and uneven heights in the pavement can all present dangerous hazards to motorcycle riders. Motorcyclists should always be on the lookout for any changes in the pavement that could affect their ability to drive safely.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in San Luis Obispo, you have legal rights to be aware of. Reach out to our team today for more information about those rights. We have years of experience protecting the rights of accident victims in the city and surrounding area, and we will put that experience to work for you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation.
Being a motorcycle owner is all about feeling like there are no limits and no rules. In the end, it is just you, two wheels and the open road. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to grant you this level of freedom. Some people may be negligent and crash into you unless you have the needed safety precautions, causing serious motorcycle accident injuries. Others will scoff and feel indignant for your desire to have a good time, reporting your behavior to the local authorities in an effort to control you. These two types of people are responsible for the majority of motorcycle laws in California. While respectful, self-minding individuals merely wish to enjoy their vehicles as they see fit, legislatures and courts nevertheless felt it necessary to impose laws and restrictions on motorcycle use. Stay informed of these laws to protect yourself from prosecution or, worse, some absent-minded Sunday driver who could put your life in danger. 1. Helmet Laws in California Currently, California requires that all riders operating motor vehicles on public roads must have a safety helmet “as required by subdivision,” which means local laws determine the specifics. Usually, a DOT-certified helmet is the standard needed. Being pulled over while riding without a helmet can result in anything from a $10 fee to a $250 fee and one year’s probation, depending on who is holding the citation pad. 2. Motorcycle Handlebar Height Requirements in California Elevated handlebars that sit high above the rider’s head, known to some as “Ape Hangers” or other names, are largely not permitted in California. All handlebars must not exceed six inches above the rider’s shoulders in normal riding position. 3. Lane Splitting Laws in California Unlike many other states, motorcycle riders are allowed to ride alongside or past vehicles within the same lane, a practice known as “lane splitting.” Official California law denotes that lane splitting should be done “in a safe and prudent manner,” meaning that riders should use good judgement. Who determines bad judgement? If a police officer or a “concerned citizen” thinks you are being reckless, or if you are in an accident and someone alleges that you were recklessly lane splitting, you could be fined for using the practice improperly. 4. Turn Signal Requirements in California Unless your motorcycle was built and first registered before 1973, you will need two sets of working turn signals — one in front and one in rear. 5. Motorcycle Exhaust Noise Restrictions Noise restrictions are complex and based upon the year your motorcycle was manufactured or last modified.
Motorcycle Accidents in California
No matter how much you follow the letter of the law, negligent drivers can still pose a threat to your health and safety while you enjoy your motorcycle. Ride safety, and ride legal.
We represent only the injured parties against insurance companies or large corporations. We never do defense work. We never will. The defense wants to minimize the amount of money given to our clients, even when they are responsible.
The materials in this website have been provided only for general information purposes and are not legal advice. None of the information on this website is intended to constitute, nor does it constitute legal advice nor create any type of relationship between the Ernst Law Group and the recipient.