Earlier this week, a motorcyclist in Southern California was killed in a multiple car accident on the westbound Santa Monica Freeway. According to KCAL 9, the crash occurred around six in the morning. Unfortunately, we hear about motorcycle accidents too often. While motorcycle fatalities in California have dropped 13 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the latest report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, too many motorists still do not see motorcyclists especially when it comes to left-turn accidents.
Danger of left-turn accidents
Left-turn accidents account for 36 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. The risk of a left-hand turn accident is high even among four-wheel traffic. More than one half of crossing-path crashes involved left turns, according to the NHTSA. Importantly, the risk of injury for motorcyclists during a left-hand crash is higher in comparison to other motorists because of the vulnerability of the motorcyclist.
Left-turn accidents occur when oncoming motorcycles are not recognized by drivers making a left-turn. Normally, the motorcycle is struck by the turning car as the motorcycle goes straight through the intersection. As any driver knows, the rider going straight through an unregulated intersection or who is going straight through a green light has the right of way. Unfortunately and despite the rules of the road, left-hand accidents occur because the driver simply may not see the motorcyclist. What can motorcyclists do to protect themselves and their right to recovery in left-hand accidents?
To protect the ability to recover, motorcyclists should start by following the rules of the road. A minority of riders out there have given the community a bad name by making dangerous decisions, such as speeding and by making tight lane changes. Like the reputation of a good attorney concerning bad lawyer jokes, an individual motorcyclist’s acts should not be distorted by the poor decisions of a few. However, the offending driver may try to do just that. Commonly, drivers in left-hand crashes will claim the motorcyclist was at fault because he or she was speeding. The common phrase, “He came outta nowhere!” comes to mind. The motorist may also claim the motorcyclist should have slowed down to help prevent the accident. Frequently, drivers turn too suddenly for the motorcyclist to take evasive action. Motorcyclists who follow the speed limit and other rules of the road neutralize these attempts to shift the blame. Motorcyclists can take other safety measures as well.
As the “Start Seeing Motorcycles” bumper sticker shows, car drivers don’t see motorcyclists. To remedy and guard against not being seen, motorcyclists should make themselves as visible as possible and ride defensively. Motorcyclists should always ride with the headlight on, and they should also wear a light-colored helmet and bright clothing. While it may sound counter-intuitive, motorcyclists should also drive defensively by assuming other vehicles do not see them. By pretending not to be seen, a motorcyclist can put him- or herself in hyper-attentive state of mind where he or she rides with extreme attention. The motorcyclist should ride in the best spot possible by varying speed and land position, cover brake controls to increase reaction time, plan escape routes in order to take evasive action if a driver violates a right-of-way, and ride within his or her limits.
If you have injured in a left-hand accident or another type of motorcycle accident, contact a personal injury experienced in representing motorcycle riders to preserve your right to recovery.
Our founding attorney, Scott J. Corwin, has more than 30 years of experience in representing accident victims injured in all forms of motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle and bicycle accidents, in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and throughout the state of California.