California Accident Lawyer – Harshbarger Law Motorcycle accident rates have risen steadily for 25 years in Southern California

Data source:

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY – Most Recent Annual Data via Office of Traffic Safety

Total Fatal and Injury1626313/58
Alcohol Involved17666/58
Had Been Drinking Driver < 21927/58
Had Been Drinking Driver 21 – 346285/58
Pedestrians < 15 7242/58
Pedestrians 65+4953/58
Bicyclists < 15 4353/58
Speed Related370123/58
Nighttime (9:00pm – 2:59am)15489/58
Hit and Run98229/58

*The OTS Rankings were developed so that individual cities could compare their city’s traffic safety statistics to those of other cities with similar-sized populations. Cities could use these comparisons to see what areas they may have problems in and which they were doing well in. The results helped both cities and OTS identify emerging or on-going traffic safety problem areas in order to help plan how to combat the problems and help with the possibility of facilitating grants. In recent years, media, researchers and the public have taken an interest in the OTS Rankings. It should be noted that OTS rankings are only indicators of potential problems; there are many factors that may either understate or overstate a city/county ranking that must be evaluated based on local circumstances.

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY – Motorcycle Accident Rates Only

2016 – Motorcycles90619/58
2015 – Motorcycles85716/58
2014 – Motorcycles65520/58
2013 – Motorcycles27221/58
2012 – Motorcycles52247/58
2011 – Motorcycles54421/58
2010 – Motorcycles21029/58

“I Just Didn’t See Them.”

Little respect is paid to motorcyclists in Southern California. Whether due to the passive-aggressive SUV squeezing closer to prevent lane splitting or improperly checking side view mirrors before a lane change, every rider has experienced near-misses because of careless or distracted drivers.

When a passenger or commercial vehicle driver hits a motorcycle rider, the most common response is “I just didn’t see the motorcycle, they came out of no-where.” This is not a legal excuse, nor even a human response. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, even pedestrians don’t materialize out of thin air using magic – careless drivers are being careless when operating an automobile.

“No one owns the road, we share it.”

Lane-splitting or lane-sharing is legal in California, the only state with such a law with a reported benefit of reducing freeway congestion and air pollution, according to the State of California Office of Transit Safety report. Previously, lane splitting was commonly accepted to help with the performance of certain motorcycles requiring airflow to keep from overheating – however, allowing motorcycle drivers to safely lane-split is one small step toward alleviating traffic congestion for all drives.

Lane splitting usually occurs between the carpool (HOV) lane and left-most non HOV lane (commonly referred to as the ‘fast’ lane) where riders have more room to pass motorists. The sharing of the carpool lane can cause conflicts or a vicious traffic collision such as one that happened about this time last year involving a case of road rage. Drivers either have jealousy of the motorcyclist ability to bypass traffic and use passive-aggressive lane blocking to dangerously attempt to stop the motorcycle in a petty attempt at personal justice (“I’ll show him” mentality) or drivers fail to properly look for motorcyclists when lane changing.

Here are several examples of motorcyclists in collisions with drivers while lane-splitting: (compilation of accidents) (road rage, Southern California)

Motorcyclists ride a 600-pound bike with no protection. Colliding with a 4,000-pound steel car means getting hurt is certain and injuries are often fatal, said the report. While only 20 percent of car crashes result in injury or death, that figure jumps to 80 percent for motorcycle crashes, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Limited visibility is responsible for 38% of fatal motorcycle crashes, according to the NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2011).

When a motorcycle accident occurs, motorcyclists of the Redlands and Inland Empire area face many obstacles, from medical recovery to their recovery of damages. The motorcycle accident lawyers of Harshbarger Law are dedicated to helping victims who have been injured in a crash – whether with an individual or commercial driver. Our attorneys, led by seasoned lawyer Mark Harshbarger, know how to counter the common biases against motorcyclist stereotypes and focus on the facts, the law, and negligence of the automobile driver.

For automobiles, 31% of crashes result in injury but only 0.29% of accidents are fatal. For motorcycles 78.3% of reported crashes result in injury and 4.24% of crashes are fatal. Motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle result in serious injury to motorcyclists versus the driver and passengers of the automobile (NHTSA).

Motorcyclists have very little protection in a collision.  Facts about motorcyclist fatalities:

  • The majority of crashes involving motorcycles are single-vehicle crashes; Safety begins with the rider.
  • Since 2014, riders 40 and older made up the largest percentage of motorcycle fatalities, about 55% of all riders killed in 2013 and 54 percent in 2014, 2015 and 2016. (NHTSA)
  • 48% of motorcyclist deaths in 2016 occurred on weekends. Those deaths were more likely to occur after 6 p.m.
  • About 26% of fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2016 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent.
  • 68% of the female motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2016 were passengers; The vast majority of male motorcyclists who died were drivers.

Fatalities or catastrophic injuries are common: Spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, back and neck injuries, fractures, amputations, internal injuries, and severe “road rash” burns and abrasions. Injured motorcyclists may have to endure reconstructive surgery or painful rehab and perhaps deal with disability, disfigurement, and the psychological aftermath.

Harshbarger Law works with experts in many fields to help establish liability and detail the case for monetary damages, including punitive damages in appropriate cases.

Hospital bills following a motorcycle accident grow quickly. Compound these medical costs with lost income if the victim cannot return to work for weeks or months, and victims may not be able to support themselves or loved ones in day-to-day living expenses.

Contact our specialists serving Southern California, Inland Empire including both San Bernardino and Riverside County. Harshbarger Law is also able to speak at events to answer questions specific to motorcycle injuries and accidents. Let our lead attorney, Mark Harshbarger, fight for your recovery if you are hit by a careless, uninsured, or underinsured motorist.