With California’s typically warm weather and numerous scenic drives, owning and riding a motorcycle in the state is one of life’s simple pleasures. Unfortunately, as the most recent motorcycle accident statistics have been released for California, riding a motorcycle can also be dangerous. The overcrowded highways and streets can be deadly for motorcyclists, especially if they’re new to riding or not taking precautions that could save their lives.
2020 A Deadly Year for Motorcyclists
In 2020, there were 539 motorcyclist deaths in California, second only to the 600 in Florida. Texas was third on the list with 483 motorcyclist deaths, followed by 219 in Pennsylvania and 211 in Ohio. Clearly, there is an association with warm weather and an increase in the number of motorcycles on the road, and with the higher number of bikes comes the higher risk of them getting into an accident with other motor vehicles.
In fact, 2020 saw the most motorcyclist deaths in at least five years, with 5,579 motorcyclists dying from injuries sustained in an accident with a motor vehicle. Sadly, people who ride motorcycles are 29 times more likely to die in a collision with another motor vehicle than a passenger in a car or truck. The reasons for this are obvious: a motorcycle is much lighter than a car or truck and the motorcyclist is much less protected than a passenger in a car.
While California’s death total for motorcyclists in 2020 was higher than the 491 deaths in 2019, the 539 fatalities on California’s roads is lower than the 578 in 2018 and the 576 in 2017. Indeed, the numbers were decreasing year by year between 2017 and 2019 until the pandemic occurred and threw havoc in the pattern.
Experts believe that 2020’s higher numbers could be related to the fact that when the streets emptied due to quarantines and work at home orders, people who still had to drive took more risks than ever before. Drivers discovered they could speed down the deserted roads, which were no longer packed with vehicles. Unfortunately, this led to more severe crashes because speed is a major factor in the severity of a collision.
Preliminary statistics for 2021 suggest that motorcyclist injuries and deaths are decreasing in most California counties. In Los Angeles County, for instance, there were 2,752 motorcycle accidents and 111 fatalities in 2021 compared to 2,898 accidents and 123 deaths in 2020. The same pattern holds true for Santa Clara County, with 252 motorcycle accidents and 12 deaths in 2021 compared to 262 accidents and 10 deaths in 2020. Fresno County bucks this trend at least in terms of accidents, with 213 in 2021 compared to 179 in 2020. However, deaths are down to seven compared to 22, which is definitely promising news.
No matter where you ride a motorcycle, you’re naturally at a disadvantage if you get into a collision with a car or truck. You simply don’t have the protection necessary to prevent injuries and death, even if you’re wearing a helmet. So, whenever you’re on the road, be aware of those around you so you can take evasive action if it’s needed. It might just save your life.