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Motorcycle Riding on California Freeways? Follow Trusted Safety Tips

motorcycle rider in los angeles californiaMotorcycle riding on California’s freeways can be a great pastime. Our state’s vistas are unparalleled and motorcyclists can experience mountains, oceans, and forests up close and personal.

At the same time, driving a motorcycle can be more dangerous than driving a car. Motorcyclists struck by another vehicle are not encased in material that cushions the blow. Rain or snow on the freeways in an amount that wouldn’t affect a car can make a motorcycle go into a skid. A pothole can be life threatening, because it can cause a motorcyclist to be ejected from his or her seat. Road hazards like debris are similarly dangerous.

Since 2000, fatalities due to motorcycle accidents have risen 55% according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Nationwide, more than 4,500 people died as a result of motorcycle accidents in 2010, the most recent statistics available.

Rules to maximize motorcycle safety

Motorcyclists therefore need to follow good safety rules.

Clothing and Gear

  • Dress and ride for visibility. It is very important that other vehicle operators and pedestrians be able to see you, as a preventive measure. Your clothing should be bright or reflective. Use your headlights and, if you have them, running lights.
  • Wear a helmet. Under California law, motorcyclists are required to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant motorcycle safety helmet. Helmets cut down on head and other injuries.
  • Wear protective apparel. To protect yourself not only from other vehicles but from the motorcycle itself, wear long and heavy pants, closed boots, a long sleeved jacket with reflective material, and leather gloves.

Driving

  • Ride a safe distance behind other vehicles to avoid collision. You should be able to stop in the space you see between yourself and another vehicle or a pedestrian.
  • Watch the road. Keep alert to road conditions — remember that potholes, debris, and other unusual or sudden road conditions can be dangerous.
  • Keep alert for signs of changes in driver behavior. Keep an eye on signs that indicate changes in driver behavior: turn signals, brake lights, or even slowing in a way that indicates a car, truck or other cycle might stop.
  • Exercise caution when changing lanes. Check, of course, to see if there is space for you to move into another lane. Be sure to check that no one else is trying to move into the empty spot.

Riding in Groups

  • Use a ride captain when operating in groups. They can plan the route, make sure everyone knows it, and keep riders focused and alert.
  • Ride in staggered formation. Side-by-side riding is not optimally safe in a group. In staggered formation, one rider is at the right side of the lane and the next rides on the left side of the same lane. The group repeats that formation. It improves visibility of the road ahead.

If you need to talk to an attorney

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, you need an experienced lawyer working on your case. At Ellis Law, we vigorously advocate for you and your family’s rights.

Call us at 1-800-INJURED to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with one of our team of California motorcycle accident lawyers. We can help you determine your rights and appropriate legal action.

Additional “motorcycle safety tips” resources

  1. State of California, Department of Motor Vehicles. Motorcycle Handbook: Preparing to Ride. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/dl655/mcycle_htm/preparing