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Motorcycle Safety Awareness

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As San Diego injury lawyers, we know how devastating a motorcycle accident can be. Unfortunately, they are on the rise here in California and across the country.

According to preliminary figures from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), more than 400 people were killed and nearly 12,000 people were injured in motorcycle crashes in 2011. Alarmingly, this represents a nearly 20 percent increase in the fatality rate in from the prior year.

The spike in fatal motorcycle accidents highlights the importance of “sharing the road,” the main message of this year’s safety campaign.

“Law enforcement and traffic safety organizations throughout the nation are working to reverse this unfortunate trend,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow of the increase in the number of people killed and injured in motorcycle-related collisions. “This month, and every month, motorists are reminded to safely share the road with motorcycles, and to be extra vigilant to help keep motorcyclists safe.”

California officials offer the following tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways:

  • Remember, a motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle. The person under that helmet could be a mother, brother, doctor, or friend.
  • Perform a regular visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or exiting a lane of traffic, at intersections, and pulling out of driveways and parking lots. Always look twice before pulling out.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a motorcycle – motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed.
  • Allow more following distance – three or four seconds – when behind a motorcycle to give the motorcyclist time to maneuver around obstacles in the roadway or stop in an emergency.

Motorcyclists can increase their safety by:

  • Wearing a DOT-compliant helmet.
  • Never riding while impaired.
  • Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it.
  • Signaling intentions by combining hand signals and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves.
  • Assuming drivers can’t see them. Wearing brightly colored protective gear and using reflective tape and stickers to make sure they are seen.
  • Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers.
  • Not accelerating too quickly, since drivers turning ahead might not notice until too late.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego motor vehicle accident, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.