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Written By Chris Dolan and Phil Johnson

Motor vehicle accidents are dangerous, but not all crashes are suffered equally. Motorcyclists are 24 times more likely to die in a crash than those inside a motor vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Indeed, while motorcyclists make up only 3.5 percent of all registered vehicles, 14 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities were riding on two wheels at the time of the crash.

While no amount of protection can compare to a seatbelt and a box of metal surrounding you, motorcyclists can take preemptive measures to best keep themselves safe. First, wear a helmet. A helmet that complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Riders who were wearing compliant helmets at the time of a crash were 22-42 percent more likely to survive a motorcycle crash than those who were not wearing a helmet, and 41-69 percent less likely to suffer a brain injury. (Coben et al., 2007; Cummings et al., 2006; Deuterman, 2004; NHTSA, 2003; NHTSA, 2006; NHTSA, 2019). Beyond a helmet, personal protective gear such as insulated gloves, a heavy jacket, boots, and leather pants can also be a smart investment. Some jackets even include airbag systems that can deploy in the event of a crash.

Your mind’s eye might recall a yellow bumper sticker that reads “START SEEING MOTORCYCLES.” The public awareness campaign encourages drivers to look and listen for motorcycles. Plain and simple, the fact that motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles makes them harder to see. Some common scenarios where drivers say they struggle to spot motorcycles include:

  • Lane changes – While drivers are expected to check their blind spots before changing lanes, many drivers offer a cursory glance at best. Due to their smaller size, motorcycles can more easily fit into a driver’s blind spot. We encourage all motorcyclists to be aware of such blind spots, and do their best to avoid driving in such dangerous locations.
  • Left turns – Vehicles making a left turn across traffic often miss or misjudge how far away oncoming motorcycles may be. When such scenarios occur, the turning vehicle creates a trap for the motorcyclist, who has little or no time to avoid the turning vehicle. We implore motorcyclists to use their headlights and wear bright colors when possible.

Mental acuity and awareness of others are also key when considering motorcycle safety. While defensive driving is always a smart strategy, it is imperative while driving a motorcycle. Balance, stability and proper handling can make the difference between a close call caused by another driver, and a life-changing crash. Smart riders will look ahead at the weather forecast before deciding which day to go for a ride. Adverse weather conditions and slippery roads can pose unique dangers for motorcyclists.

The Dolan Law Firm has a proud history of representing motorcyclists who were injured by bad drivers. While we are always here to advocate on your behalf, we hope to be the best motorcycle lawyers you will never need. Consider the safety measures mentioned here, ride safe, ride sober, and enjoy the open road.

Christopher B. Dolan owns the Dolan Law Firm, and Phil Johnson is an associate attorney in our San Francisco office. We serve San Francisco Bay Area and California clients from our San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles offices. Email questions and topics for future articles to help@dolanlawfirm.com. Each situation is different, and this column does not constitute legal advice. We recommend consulting with an experienced trial attorney to understand your rights fully.

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Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.

Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.

Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.

Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide.

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