Approximately 100,000 motorcycles are involved in traffic collisions in the United States each year. California has between 11,000 and 13,000 motorcycle traffic collisions every year. On average, 500 motorcycle riders die each year. California has around 12 percent of all traffic collisions in the United States.
Author practicing swerving in a controlled environment to prepare for the unexpected out on the road.
When someone is involved in a traffic collision, whether on a motorcycle or in a vehicle, it can be a very confusing and frustrating time. You will want your bike or car fixed right away, and most of the time, it can take months to get fixed. You may have injuries that take months if not years to heal. You will have many questions that you want to be answered right away, which you may not get right away. There are many traffic collision scenarios, and I want to focus on three that police officers see regularly.
A motorcycle rider is riding down a street, and a car pulls out in front of the rider. The rider swerves and hits a curb or other object. The rider falls off the motorcycle, causing injuries, and the bike is damaged. When a vehicle causes an accident by making an unsafe movement causing another vehicle to crash is called a non-contact collision. The car that violated the motorcycle's right away continued down the road, and no witnesses stopped to help the rider. The police officer shows up, and the rider tells their side of the story. The police officer believes the rider's story based on the rider's statement and evidence at the scene. The problem in law enforcement is that if we don't have an independent witness who can collaborate the rider's story, the rider will be at fault for the traffic collision. Riders need to get witness information. If witnesses stop, riders need to grab the witness's name and phone number if the witness does not want to wait for the police to get there. Once law enforcement gets there, the rider can give that information to the police officer, and the police officer can contact the witness. Whether it's a contact traffic collision, where two vehicles collide, or a non-contact traffic collision, always get witness information.
The best way to prevent a non-contact collision is keeping your head on a swivel and training. Training can include emergency braking and swerving.
A motorcycle rider travels down the road enjoying the day when a car cuts the rider off. The rider slams on his brakes and avoids the accident. Like most people on a motorcycle, the anger builds up in the rider. The rider could have died or been seriously injured if the person was not paying attention. Motorcycle riders get in trouble when they act on that anger and get in front of the car and cut that person off, throwing things at the car, flipping the driver off, and yelling at the driver. A rider has no protection against the vehicle and upsetting the car driver with a cage and protection from anything you do is probably not the best idea.
It would be like a bee stinging a bear. Even though the car driver probably deserves the tongue lashing, it's not worth it. If a rider feels they need to do something about this reckless driver, they can call their local law enforcement agency and let them handle it. I can tell you from personal experience that the motorcycle always loses if a car hits a motorcycle.
If a rider realizes they cut a car off, it's better to try and apologize and move on with life. If the driver is not going to accept the apology, the rider needs to get away from that car. If the car chases the rider, they need to find a public parking lot and park near the front entrance of an open business. Get off the motorcycle and separate yourself from the bike. Go into a business and call 911. Do not confront the driver because it never goes well for either the rider or car driver.
If the car rams the motorcycle on purpose, that would be assault with a deadly weapon. Even though they will get charged with a crime, you will be the one in the hospital recovering from injuries.
Drivers opening car doors while lane splitting
A rider is riding down the street or freeway, and you come up to a traffic jam. Since lane splitting is legal in California, the rider starts lane splitting with a big smile because we don't have to wait in line. As the rider is about to get up to the front of the traffic jam, some person decides that the rider should not be lane splitting and opens their car door, causing the rider to slam on the brakes. If the rider has enough time, they can stop quickly and avoid hitting the car door. If the rider does not have time and collides with the car door, the person who opened the door could be facing assault with a deadly weapon charge. If you get seriously hurt, they could be charged with additional crimes.
If this does happen, try to get witness information if you can get it. Then you can give the information to the police officer when they get there. If you're not injured, I would strongly suggest taking photos and video of the scene to help any court case and help law enforcement track people down.
These are just three scenarios where motorcycle riders could get seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident. I always suggest riders have a camera on their bike to capture incidents like these. The most important thing for you is to get your camera out, whether on a phone or video camera, and record everything if you are involved in any of these situations. The more you can document at that very moment, the better it will be in a court case.
This is just two of the hundreds of different cameras you can buy. These are the two cameras the author uses to capture videos of motorcycle rides.
Even though we as motorcycle riders cannot control every type of situation, there are many things we can do to reduce our chances of getting in these types of scenarios. The two biggest things I suggest to people are practice and training. Take some training with motorcycle instructors whether you have been riding a week or 40 years. Practice what you learned in the classes. The more you train and practice, the less likely you will get into one of these situations, and if you do get into one of these situations, you will have the skills to control your bike and avoid a motorcycle accident.