Fatal Motorcycle Stats – California
Motor Vehicle Accidents
A total of 2925 fatal motor vehicle crashes occurred in California in 2015 resulting in 3176 deaths. This is a 2.4% increase from 2014 (3102 deaths). 57% of motor vehicle crash deaths in California occurred in urban areas while 43% took place in rural areas.
549 of those fatally injured in motor vehicle accidents were unrestrained. Seat belt usage in California is quite high at 97.3% as of September 2016. The State has secondary enforcement of seat belt law which means that a fine may be issued for not wearing a seatbelt only if the vehicle is stopped.
Motorcycle Fatalities and Injuries
A total of 449 motorcycle riders were killed in California in 2015. Motorcycle deaths in California declined by 7% in 2015 while motorcycle fatalities in the country increased by 10% as reported by the Governors Highway Safety Association. However, since the motorcycle population in this state is quite high, the number of deaths are still too high accounting for 17% of all road fatalities in California.
Among motorcycle deaths in 2014, over 90% of the victims were male. 25% of the fatalities were in the 20-29 age group followed by the 50-59 years.
Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents
California is vigilant when it comes to motorist awareness. It has effective motorcycle safety enforcement operations in place, and all violations that could contribute to crashes are targeted. However, crashes still occur.
The report by the GHSA highlights several reasons for motorcycle accidents. These include an increase in the number of riding days due to a relatively shorter and warmer winter. Lower fuel prices, as well as an overall stronger economy, have also played a role in more ridden miles on motorcycles. Another important factor is helmet use. There is a need for legislation requiring this since helmet usage is positively associated with reduced motorcycle deaths. Helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries and the risk of dying in case of a crash by 37%.
Lane-Splitting is another major reason why motorcycle accidents are so high in California. It is the only state to allow lane-splitting - a practice that allows motorcyclists to surpass traffic by weaving between lanes. This practice is illegal in all other states except California. Findings from a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley shows that out of 5969 motorcycle accidents analyzed in the study, 997 involved lane-splitting. This is not to say, that, the maneuver itself is unsafe. The problem occurs when riders do it at very high speeds and when they put themselves too close to other vehicles.
Berkeley researchers conducted a survey with 709 motorcyclists in California. Their findings showed that 80% of motorcyclists in the region lane split sometimes on freeways while 37% do it always. Lane splitting is not a violation. Sergeant Larry Starkey, who heads the Motorcycle Safety Unit for the California Highway Patrol points out that it is not necessarily the reason behind a collision but can be a contributing factor if not done in a safe manner.