California Motorcycling By the Numbers by Russ Brown Motorcycle Lawyers California has more motorcycles and motorcycle riders than any other state in the nation, and California motorcycle statistics for all aspects of riding, including those for motorcycle accidents, are used as a bellwether for the entire country:

Approximately three-quarters of California motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle; one-quarter are single vehicle California motorcycle accidents involving a collision with the roadway or a fixed object.

– In 2005 alone, 411 California motorcyclists were killed and 9,347 were injured in traffic collisions throughout the State of California.

– According to the California Highway Patrol, there was a 102% increase in California motorcycle fatalities and a 63% increase in severe motorcycle injuries from 1998 to 2005.

59% of all California motorcycle collisions are caused by three factors:

  • Unsafe speeds
  • Improper turning
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol



Vehicle failure and/or roadway defects were precipitating factors for a significant portion of California motorcycle accidents.

In multiple vehicle accidents involving a California motorcycle, violation of the motorcyclist’s right-of-way was a precipitating factor two-thirds of the time; intersections are particularly dangerous in this regard.

Whether a Southern California motorcycle accident involves multiple vehicles or just the motorcycle, the rider is almost guaranteed to suffer an injury.

California motorcyclists without a motorcycle license, no license at all, or with a restricted license are significantly overrepresented in the motorcycle crash data.

Since California’s universal helmet law was enacted in 1992, rider fatalities have declined by over 50%. The number and severity of head injuries per rider has likewise decreased.

All statistics courtesy of the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the California Highway Patrol, and Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures

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