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Recently, the California Highway Patrol released safety tips for motorcycle riders in response to rising fatality and injury rates in motorcycle accidents. In a joint effort with the Office of Traffic Safety, May has been deemed Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

There are more than 830,000 registered motorcycles in California alone, and 1.4 million motorcyclists. Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that motorcycle fatalities increased from 9 percent to 14 percent of all motor vehicle fatality accidents from 2004 to 2013.

During 2013, 475 motorcyclists died in collisions, while another 13,143 were seriously injured. This is of concern in California, as the state has the largest number of motorcycle riders and owners. One of the CHP's safety tips is that motorcyclists should always wear their safety gear and helmets. Motorcyclists should additionally follow the speed limits and never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They should also know their own driving limits and abilities and not fall to peer pressure to push themselves. Motorcyclists should also always drive defensively with the clear understanding that others may not be able to see them.

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California residents may be interested in an emerging technology that one day might prevent accidents involving motorcycles. The vehicle-to-vehicle communication system is being tested now on some automobiles, but the time may come when it could be used to prevent motorcycle accidents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation began a pilot test of the communications technology with 3,000 Michigan vehicles in August 2012. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is now doing paperwork to extend this technology to sport utility vehicles, cars and pickups. This technology allows a vehicle's on-board sensors to communicate with other vehicles equipped with the same technology. Information the two vehicles share can include speed of the vehicles and distance between them, and whether one car is about to change lanes or make a left turn. Drivers are then alerted and can take action to avoid an accident.

One of the major causes of motorcycle accidents is motorists not seeing motorcycles until it is too late to avoid an accident. If the new technology can be applied to motorcycles, experts say it could dramatically reduce the number of motorcycle accidents, especially those involving left turns at intersections, multi-vehicle crashes and rear-end collisions. The sensors could warn inattentive drivers that a motorcycle is nearby.

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California motorcyclists should make road safety their absolute highest priority. Although motorcycles are fuel efficient and enjoyable, motorcyclists are also nearly thirty times more likely to experience a fatal accident than automobile drivers.

Statistics indicate that 42 percent of all motorcycle fatalities involve alcohol intoxication in some way. Nearly half of the fatalities listed speeding as a factor in the accident. Simply refusing to partake in either behavior will have the effect of reducing risk by an enormous degree. Antilock brakes have also been shown to have a large effect on fatality statistics. Riders with ABS brakes saw a 37 percent reduction in the fatality rate. Helmets also have a dramatic impact on the chances of a fatal result. They have been estimated to reduce the risk of death between 21 and 31 percent.

Riders over 60 years of age are at more risk. Older riders have been shown to be three times more likely to require hospitalization after an accident. Experts also speculate that issues such as poor proficiency and wrongly-fitted equipment increase the odds of an accident or fatality. They point out that modern motorcycles are much faster than the older models and may take some riders by surprise.

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Posted on in Motorcycle Accidents

In California, many motorcyclists are injured or even killed in accidents each year. The problem is not just limited to the state, as motorcycle crash-related injuries and deaths occur across the nation. Due to having less protection on motorcycles, riders are more likely to be injured or killed when their motorcycles are involved in collisions.

In order to combat the higher likelihood of serious injuries, motorcyclists are advised to wear helmets. While helmets do help save lives, they are not always effective in preventing fatal head injuries in motorcycle collisions.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the effectiveness of helmets in preventing fatalities is approximately 37 percent. In 2012, the agency estimated that helmets saved 1,699 motorcyclists who were involved in serious accidents. By studying fatal motorcycle crashes, NHTSA estimated that if all of the motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 781 people who died might have otherwise lived. In 2012, 59 percent of those killed were using helmets while 48 percent of passengers who died were wearing them. Use of Department of Transportation-approved helmets stood at only 60 percent by riders.

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Many California residents own and enjoy riding motorcycles. Many motorcycle enthusiasts argue that is no better way to enjoy our region's mild climate and scenic byways than from the back of a motorcycle. While riding a motorcycle is often considered by many to be the ideal way to enjoy many of Santa Clara County's beautiful mountain and canyon roads, motorcycles can also be dangerous and result in riders being seriously injured and even killed.

First responders were recently called to the scene of a serious motorcycle accident in which the body of the motorcyclist was pinned between his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and an SUV. Unfortunately, the man's injuries were too numerous and serious and he was pronounced dead at the accident scene.

According to the police report, the fatal accident occurred as the motorcyclist was attempting to navigate a curvy and winding mountain road. Upon encountering a turn in the road, the motorcyclist appears to have been driving too fast. His motorcycle crossed the center line and into the direct path of an oncoming SUV. The two vehicles collided head-on. The force of the collision resulted in the motorcyclist being thrown from him Harley and pinned between the two vehicles.

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California is one of a handful of states to have what is commonly referred to as lane splitting. The practice of lane splitting pertains to a manuever made by an individual on a motorcycle in which they effectively drive down the center of two lanes of traffic. Motorcyclists are allowed to engage in lane splitting when certain traffic conditions apply that warrant the use of the maneuver.

While considered safe and effective when enacted properly, the manuever is not without risks. Some motorists have been guilty of trying to prevent or obstruct a motorcyclist from passing. Not only is blocking a motorcyclist who is attempting to lane split illegal, it's also extremely dangerous and can result in serious motorcycle accidents.

A 20-year-old California woman was recently killed in a fatal motorcycle accident when the 21-year-old driver of the motorcycle on which she was a passenger was forced to suddenly stop. The accident occurred as the motorcycle was traveling about 30 MPH through standstill traffic. As the motorcycle approached an intersection, a truck that was hauling a trailer was blocking the motorcycle's passage.

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