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San Jose motorcycle accident lawyerWhen we hear about motorcycle accidents on the roadways, the news often revolves around other drivers and how they are at fault for collisions with motorcyclists. While it is true that drivers must exercise special caution when operating vehicles around motorcyclists, those riding motorcycles can have just as much of an impact on highway safety. We all share the roadways, and we all have a part to play.

What You Can Do as a Motorcyclist

The California Highway Patrol reports that Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System data has shown a continual increase in motorcycle fatalities since 2011. The CHP’s motorcycle safety program exists to help equip riders with the education, skills, and tools they need to take responsibility for their part on the roads as they operate and interact with other drivers. 

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motorcycle accident, San Jose Personal Injury AttorneyBuses, cars, bikes, and our own two feet: on a daily basis, we are on the move. Luckily, we get to decide what moves us in most occasions. For many, their chosen mode of transportation is by motorcycle. There is just something about the breeze in your hair and against your face and the rumble of a motorcycle rolling on the pavement that gets pulses racing for millions of riders every day. For some, it is a pastime, something that can be enjoyed for long cruises on the weekend. For many others, it is their daily transportation. Who can blame them with the gas mileage? One thing is for sure; motorcycles are everywhere, and it is everyone’s responsibility to prevent motorcycle accidents.

When You Are the Motorcyclist

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), among the many contributing factors for motorcycle accidents are breaking speed limits and not knowing how to appropriately operate a motorcycle. This is not to say that these are the only factors that lead to accidents; the list is extensive. However, a few tips that you can use to potentially prevent a fatal accident are:

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Many motorists can probably think about a time when they were sitting in heavy, slow traffic and wished that they could just maneuver their way around the stopped cars. Drivers are limited in what they can do to ease the strain of traffic, though California motorcyclists have a bit more options.

Lane splitting is what motorcyclists are engaging in when they travel between various lanes that are moving in the same direction. It is a legal driving practice as long as the riders are driving at a reasonable speed and aren't otherwise driving recklessly. A recent bill would have done away with some of the freedom for motorcyclists, but it has been put on hold.

State Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose introduced a bill last month that sought to more strictly limit lane-splitting by motorcyclists. If passed, the law would have only allowed motorcycles to split lanes when there are at least three lanes and high traffic, for example. But it didn't pass. Sen. Beall withdrew the proposal in order to evaluate the matter further.

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Just a generation ago, it wasn't all that common for car drivers and passengers to automatically reach for their seat belts when they stepped inside a vehicle. Statistics have shown time and time again that seat belts save lives and prevent many serious injuries, but wearing them just wasn't second nature for many people. That has changed, however, due to public messaging and laws in many states that result in fines for people who don't wear their seat belts or make sure that children are buckled up.

The California Highway Patrol is hopeful similar efforts will reduce the rate of motorcycle accidents in the state. One of its stations is teaming up with a private business to spread awareness of motorcycles on California's roads and press drivers to keep a watchful eye out for them. The idea is that if drivers can learn to instinctively look for motorcycles before changing lanes or turning at intersections, fewer motorcycle riders and passengers will be injured or lose their lives.

Swiss Dairy's headquarters are in Riverside, California, an area that has seen more than its share of motorcycle accidents. Riders flock to the area to enjoy the open highways and incredible views, but with so much car and commercial traffic, the number of motorcycle accidents is high. The company joined ranks with CHP recently, signing onto its "Look Twice, Save A Life" campaign by offering to display the campaign slogan on its fleet of 220 trucks.

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Riding a motorcycle in California clearly has a lot of advantages: You can cruise among mountains and along the coastline as you save money on gas, and the climate makes motorcycling a year-round option. You can also do something that's not allowed in any other state: lane-splitting, or driving between lanes of traffic.

It's a controversial practice that's often viewed as a motorcycle accident risk, but transportation officials maintain that when done responsibly, lane-splitting is perfectly legal. As part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, California's Office of Traffic Safety released a survey, believed to be the first ever to gauge drivers' opinions on the practice. According to the findings, 53 percent of drivers think it's against the law, but 87 percent of motorcycle riders do it. And 7 percent of drivers admitted to trying to block motorcyclists from driving between lanes.

Police in the state say there's nothing wrong with lane-splitting when it's done at safe speeds. In fact, many California Highway Patrol officers rely on it. One officer who's been riding for more than 11 years says it can be a significant time saver for him as well as the average motorcycle commuter, but warns that any rider who does it should take reasonable precautions. These include always signaling turns and lane changes, being aware of traffic patterns and watching for other vehicles turning or changing lanes -- especially without using a turn signal.

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According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, last year saw the largest number of motorcyclists on the road than any year prior. This year is likely no different. Even in California there seem to be a lot of motorcyclists on the road enjoying the weather and the freedom from riding.

But unfortunately, with the growing number of motorcycle enthusiasts taking to the road, the California Highway Patrol is seeing an increase in the number of motorcycle accidents. In fact, just recently several motorcycle crashes occurred in a short amount of time that resulted in two deaths and one rider seriously injured.

One motorcyclist was killed after he lost control of his bike and ended up on the side of the road. Another biker died from crash-related injuries after his motorcycle slammed into a post. In that same period of time, a third motorcyclist was severely injured after crashing his motorcycle while on a ride with his wife. But even with the risk of getting into a serious accident, the number of motorcyclists is actually growing across the country.

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