The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) releases national motorcycle crash data each year, but the reports are delayed by a few years. The most NHTSA recent data is from 2020. The most recent data from the California Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) is from 2021. We have compiled motorcycle crash statistics to help you understand the risks, types of collisions, and steps you can take to reduce your chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident.
Factual and Procedural Background
In December 2016, Chad Defries’ wife bought a Yamaha dirt bike for her husband as a Christmas present. Mr. Defries first rode the bike one month later. He took it out a second time on Feb. 2017 with two friends, including Johnny Kitchin and Johnny Butcher. The trio decided to ride their bikes at a dirt bike course in Perris. While riding through a portion of the course that consisted of a series of small hills, the throttle on Defries’ motorcycle fell off the handlebar, causing the handlebar to turn to the left and Defries to fall off the bike in a motorcycle accident. Defries broke his right femur, suffered a separated shoulder, and suffered a hernia. Butcher and Kitchin both testified that they saw the throttle hanging off of the bike detached from the handlebar when they loaded the bike in their truck.
Background of the case
Richard Ruehle was riding his motorcycle on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim on Aug. 5, 2016. A precinct worker who had been hired by Eric Linder’s reelection campaign had knocked on doors all morning and was driving back to work after his lunch break. The worker did not have a driver’s license. He did not check his mirrors or blind spots when he changed lanes, crashing into Ruehle and his motorcycle. The collision left Ruehle with quadriplegia, and he only had limited use of his arms. He will never be able to walk again. Ruehle was also married and had six children and was an avid hiker before his accident. Ruehle filed a lawsuit against both the California Republican Party and Eric Linder’s campaign.
Factual background of the case
On March 6, 2011, a tourist from Oklahoma named Terry Turner ate at Geoffrey’s restaurant, which is located in Malibu. After he finished eating, he tried to turn left onto PCH. PCH is a one-way road in front of Geoffrey’s that has a median to divide traffic that is headed in the opposite direction. When Turner turned left, he was headed directly into oncoming traffic. A 41-year-old man named Joseph Annocki Jr. was riding his motorcycle on PCH. He tried to avoid Turner’s vehicle, lost control of his motorcycle and fell off of it. He was killed as a result. Turner’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Turner, Caltrans and Petersen Enterprises LLC, the parent company of Geoffrey’s Malibu under theories of negligence and premises liability.
In a recent case in Los Angeles County (L.A. Superior Court Case No. BC553756), a jury returned a verdict of $3.7 million in a case involving a motorist and a motorcyclist who was lane-splitting at the time of the accident. The case demonstrates the legal concept of comparative negligence in California. With the passage of the new lane-splitting bill, the new rules could potentially impact how comparative negligence is determined by juries in the state.
Factual background of the case
A recent case in Santa Clara County in which a plaintiff motorcyclist sued a motor vehicle driver for negligence in a motorcycle and car accident case resulted in a verdict of nearly $1.2 million for the plaintiff. The defendant driver had claimed the motorcyclist was negligent and thus at least partly liable for the accident.
The plaintiff in the case was traveling along Highway 101 in the first lane of traffic on his motorcycle directly behind the defendant driver at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. The defendant reportedly was distracted by another vehicle’s custom license plate and failed to notice that traffic had slowed in front of him. When he did notice, he slammed on his brakes in order to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of him, causing his car to fishtail and enter the second lane of traffic.
“Lane-splitting” occurs when a motorcyclist between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. This practice is against the law in 49 states and the District of Columbia, and California is the only state in the country that does not have a law specifically outlawing lane-splitting. California also does not have a law specifically stating that lane-splitting is legal and, therefore, many motorists become angry when motorcyclists engage in this behavior. Though lane-splitting can be distracting to motorists and can lead to accidents and injuries, the practice can be safe when done in a prudent and safe manner. If a motorcyclist fails to be careful or reasonable when lane-splitting and a collision occurs, any injured victims should contact a California motorcycle injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss a potential case.
Motorists can take precautions to avoid accidents
Motorcyclists are not the only ones who can cause accidents and injuries when lane-splitting occurs, as motorists can also behave in a negligent manner and cause injury to motorcyclists. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) offers several guidelines1 directed at motorists for safe lane-splitting practices. Some of these guidelines include as follows: