Ride safe around motorcycles

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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Drivers in California need to know how to drive safely around motorcycles because the year-round nice weather means there are many of them on the road. Not only are motorcyclists more difficult to see than other motorists, they operate in ways that vehicle drivers do not always understand.

According to the National Safety Council, there has been a two-time increase in fatal accidents involving motorcycles in the last 20 years. While motorcycles make up only 3% of the registered vehicles, they make up 14% of fatalities. Both motorcyclists and other drivers can do their parts to reduce these numbers. Motorcyclists need to be aware that it can be difficult for others to see them. To be more visible, all riders should wear bright, reflective clothing and always signal their intentions. To reduce injuries in the event of a crash, they should always wear helmets, durable clothing and boots.

Drivers can do their part by taking care when turning in an intersection or pulling out of a driveway. Because it can be difficult to estimate a motorcycle’s speed, drivers should also be more cautious. Motorcycles can be harder to see, so motorists should always check their blind spots and signal before changing lanes.

According to the American Motorcyclist Association, motorists in California must also deal with a motorcycle operation phenomenon called lane splitting. It refers to when motorcycles share a lane with another vehicle, and this is legal in the state. Studies show that this is actually a safe maneuver when done properly and in the right situations. It is particularly good in congested traffic, because it decreases the chances of rear-end collisions. 


Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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