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Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents In California

Motorcycle accident rates overshadow the thrill of riding on California’s scenic highways and routes. Each year, riders face significant risks every time they hit the road. Understanding the leading causes of motorcycle accidents isn’t just helpful—it’s crucial for every rider’s safety.

Let’s delve into the most common factors that lead to motorcycle crashes in the Golden State and how to prevent them.

What is the main cause of motorcycle accidents?

The primary causes of motorcycle accidents in California are many, with speeding being one major reason for motorcycle accidents.

icon of motorcycle speeding

Speeding is responsible for approximately 29.5% of all motorcycle accidents in California.

Other significant causes of motorcycle accidents include:

icon of a motorcycle making an improper turn.

Improper Turning

drugs and alcohol icon

Alcohol & Drugs

Icon of distracted motorcycle rider

Distracted Driving

icon of inexperienced motorcycle rider.

Lack of Experience

motorcycle lane splitting

Lane Splitting


Road Hazards

rider in bad weather, within a circular frame

Poor Weather

Motorcycle experiencing mechanical issues

Mechanical Issues

Car tailgating motorcycle


Motorcycle in car's blind spot

Blind Spots

These are the common causes of motorcycle accidents which contribute to the higher risk riders face on the road. Motorcycle operators are 28 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries compared to car occupants. It’s crucial for motorcyclists and drivers to be aware of these risks to reduce the likelihood of accidents.

In California, 565 motorcyclists lost their lives in 2021. Nationally, motorcycle fatalities rose by 7.7% between 2020 and 2021, while in California, the increase was 2.9% during the same period.

Berkeley SafeTREC

Motorcycle Fatalities in Los Angeles and Orange Counties

Motorcycle fatal accidents in Los Angeles and Orange Counties remain a significant concern. Recent incidents, such as the tragic multi-vehicle crash on the 5 Freeway near Camp Pendleton, highlight the dangers faced by motorcyclists on the road.

In this particular incident, three motorcyclists lost their lives, and several others were injured. These events underscore the importance of safety measures such as wearing helmets, adhering to speed limits, and ensuring motorcycles are well-maintained.

Additionally, awareness campaigns aimed at both motorcyclists and car drivers can contribute to a safer environment for everyone on the road.

Southern California Fatal Motorcycle Accident Statistics

  • 2020 Los Angeles County Fatalities: 123
  • 2020 Orange County Fatalities: 24

California Fatal Motorcycle Accident Statistics

  • Motorcycle fatalities increased 3% from 549 in 2020 to 565 in 2021.
  • Motorcyclist deaths from not wearing a helmet increased 9% from 34 in 2020 to 37 in 2021.

Source: California Office of Traffic Safety

Research indicates that helmets reduce motorcycle rider fatalities by 22% to 42% and brain injuries by 41% to 69%.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Motorcycle Safety Tips: Essential Pre-Ride Checks

Ensuring your motorcycle is in top condition before hitting the road can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Here are five crucial checks every rider should perform:

1. Tire Pressure and Tread Depth: Begin with your tires, as they are critical for safe handling and braking. Check that the tire pressure meets the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Inspect the tread depth to ensure it hasn’t worn down to the wear bars. Worn down tires can compromise grip and increase stopping distances, especially on wet surfaces.

2. Hand and Foot Brakes: Test both the hand and foot brakes for responsiveness. Brakes should feel firm and hold the motorcycle stationary when fully applied. Any sponginess or slack in the brake pedal or lever can indicate air in the hydraulic lines or worn pads. Either of these situations require immediate attention.

3. Headlights and Signals: Confirm that your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals are operational. This is not just about visibility at night; these lights communicate your intentions to other drivers, thus preventing collisions.

4. Fluid Levels: Check all fluid levels, including brake fluid, coolant, and transmission fluids. Proper fluid levels are essential for the efficient operation of your motorcycle’s mechanical systems and to prevent overheating.

5. Oil & Gas Leaks: Look for any signs of oil or gas leaks. Leaks can lead to engine damage and are potential fire hazards. Noticing and addressing leaks early can save you from future costly repairs and serious safety risks.

Regularly performing these checks, you increase reliability and safety, making every ride smoother and worry-free.


Effects of motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle crashes can lead to severe outcomes, including traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, and broken bones. Victims may also suffer from spinal cord injuries, leading to paralysis, or sustain extensive nerve damage and soft tissue injuries. Road rash is another common, yet painful, result of these accidents.

How to prevent a motorcycle accident

To minimize the risk of a motorcycle collision, always obey local traffic laws and avoid taking unnecessary risks. Riding with the flow of traffic, maintaining ample space between vehicles, and signaling before lane changes are crucial. Always cross intersections with caution, wear reflective gear at night, use headlights during the day, and ensure your motorbike is well-maintained. Never ride while impaired or drowsy.

Who causes most motorcycle accidents?

Research on motorcycle crash causes indicates that both motorcyclists and other drivers can be at fault. However, a significant percentage of motorcycle accidents occur due to other drivers not seeing the motorcycle. It’s crucial for both parties to practice vigilant driving and awareness on the roads.

Do I need to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer?

If you’re involved in a motorbike accident, it’s wise to consult a motorcycle accident lawyer, especially if you sustain injuries or there is significant damage.

Legal expertise is important to navigate the complexities of accident claims and to ensure you receive fair compensation, considering the high percentage of motorcycle deaths and serious injuries resulting from such accidents.

What is the primary cause of motorcycle crashes?

The leading cause of motorcycle accidents is often attributed to visibility issues and errors by other motorists, not noticing the motorcyclist. Other common causes include speeding, alcohol use, and hazardous road conditions. Each factor significantly raises the percentage of motorcycle accidents and fatalities.

Are motorcycle accidents common?

Yes, motorcycle accidents are relatively common and can be more dangerous than car accidents. Statistics show a high percent of motorcycle deaths compared to other types of vehicular accidents, underscoring the importance of safety measures and awareness among all road users.

California’s Top Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, don’t wait. Most motorcycle crashes happen unexpectedly, leaving little time to react. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer, especially if you have severe injuries, such as head injuries.

Our team of injury lawyers specializes in motor vehicle accidents and is here to help you navigate the complexities of your case with confidence and care.

With over 50 years of combined experience and a 99% success rate, your case is in the best of hands. Call us at (213) 985-1120 to schedule your free consultation today and ensure you get the support and compensation you deserve.

El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers - Personal Injury Attorneys in California

About El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers

We are an award-winning personal injury law firm representing injured victims since 2003. We can help you with your motorcycle accident in Los Angeles, Torrance and Huntington Beach.

Contact us today at for a free, no-obligation consultation. Let us fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. With El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, you’re not just another case; you’re our top priority. Act now and reclaim your peace of mind!