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Motorcycles and Road Debris

road debris

Road debris is much more dangerous for motorcycles than for cars and trucks. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents caused by debris on the road are more common than you would think, even though the number of motorcycle accidents in California has been dropping, despite nationwide increases. Keeping our roads clean has never been more important, as motorcycles are becoming increasingly popular with older adults, even as their popularity is decreasing among Millennials.

There are many types of road debris that can be hazardous for motorcyclists. Some may be the fault of Mother Nature, such as branches in the road after a storm. Some may be the fault of an individual, business, or public agency. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is helping raise awareness about debris in the road, no matter the cause, but there seem to be more accidents than ever.

Just what are the most common types of debris that cause motorcycle accidents?

Natural Debris

This type of road debris can include tree branches after a storm, sand and dirt in the road after a sandstorm, or gravel that has washed over the road after flooding. Even though debris such as this can’t be helped, many people or agencies are responsible for keeping the roads clean after a storm or other circumstance. If they haven’t followed their own policies and regulations for clearing the road of debris, they might be held liable.

Tire Fragments

Sometimes, a tire blowout is unavoidable, but clearing the tire remnants out of the road is vital to motorcycle safety. In fact, if there’s a blowout and the driver doesn’t clear the road of the debris or make sure someone is notified about the issue so it can be cleaned up professionally, the driver may be held liable. This is a bigger issue with large trucks and semis that often have blowouts due to mileage wear and the use of retread tires.

Accident Road Debris

Accidents on our roads are unavoidable, but they can also cause serious injuries to riders of motorcycles even if the rider wasn’t involved in the initial incident. Car parts, glass, oil and other things left behind after a motor vehicle accident are often not visible to even the most careful rider. Debris such as this can cause serious injury or even wrongful death, if it isn’t cleaned up properly. It is usually the responsibility of a public agency or even the city, county or state to make sure things like this are cleaned properly and pose no danger to motorcyclists and other drivers.

Road Construction

We’ve all seen a barrel or cone from a construction site tipped over into the middle of the road. The bright colors help drivers and drivers avoid them, but sometimes defensive driving just isn’t enough. Tools left behind on the road, materials left behind in the path of traffic or even unmarked or mismarked road hazards due to ongoing construction can all cause motorcycles to wreck. The company contracted to complete the construction is usually responsible for accidents caused by their lack of attention.

Lost Cargo

Whether the vehicle is a light passenger truck or a semi, the cargo they carry can be lost if not properly secured. Cargo that makes it onto the road can cause serious injury or wrongful death due to the negligence of the driver. Even those who pass by lost cargo without reporting it can be held liable for injuries sustained by a motorcyclist. If you aren’t sure how secure the cargo is in the back of the truck, be safe and not sorry, by securing it a different way or finding another way to haul it.

Liability for Road Debris Causing Damage to Motorcycles

As you’ve read, there are many types of road debris. While some are clearly accidents and could not have been avoided, some could have been avoided had drivers or public agencies taken care of the issue. The cause of the accident might be investigated to determine who, exactly, was at fault. The motorcyclist may have been driving recklessly or perhaps another driver was. If the investigation shows the accident was caused by road debris, it is important to find out who was responsible for it, so they can be held accountable.

Those who ride motorcycles should always wear a helmet to help prevent or lessen the severity of injuries sustained in an accident caused by road debris. In 2010, only 71 percent of motorcyclists wore helmets. As of 2017, that percentage has dropped. If you were in a motorcycle accident caused by road debris in Visalia, Fresno or Bakersfield, you can count on Maison Law Firm to act in your best interests. Located in Visalia, we know the issues riders in our area face. Call the Maison Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

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The Motorcycle Lane Splitting Law

Motorcycle lane splitting

According to motorcycle riders across the state, the California lane splitting law is helping other motorists pay attention to lanes. The law allows motorcycle lane splitting below 50 mph, which means riders can weave in and out of lanes to get ahead of traffic.

For other motorists, the motorcycle lane splitting law requires a heightened approach to awareness on the roads of California. Largely thanks to increased inter-agency efforts to reduce accidents and road deaths, motorcycle accidents have fallen by 28 percent overall.

Winter Weather Impact

The winter weather has its part to play in the reduction of deaths and accidents. Motorcycle riders are more likely to leave their bikes at home when the weather is wet and hazardous. However, these conditions also make cycling conditions dangerous, so motorcycle riders and other motorists need to continue to exercise caution on the roads.

Motorcycle lane splitting is a contentious practice; with California being the only state which has legalized it as of 2018. Every motorist has their part to play in ensuring motorcycle lane splitting does not result in accidents or deaths. It is important for motorists to remember motorcycle riders are harder to see and more like to suffer serious injuries in a collision.

Law Enforcement Increase

An increased presence of police patrols on California roads is designed to reduce the number of traffic violations or crimes which are linked to motorcycle accidents and deaths. CHP Officer Art Montiel has stressed police stops are not intended to harass motorcycle riders but, rather, help to promote sensible and safe practices.

These patrols are not solely focused on motorcycle riders, as all motorists are responsible for keeping the roads of California safe. Officers are tasked with identifying potentially dangerous driving which could result in a collision. Motorcycle lane splitting is safe for riders so long as all motorists pay due care and attention on the roads.

Fewer Accidents & Fatalities

When comparing accidents which resulted in fatalities from 2016, there was a decrease of nearly 30 percent in 2017. 586 motorcycle riders died as a result of accidents in 2016 – a number that dropped by 180 in the following year. The only states that experienced a higher drop were District of Columbia, Delaware, Wyoming, and Mississippi.

The focus now is on increased police patrols and motorist education. It is important that all motorists are aware of laws, such as motorcycle lane splitting. Increased awareness leads to motorists acting more responsibly when motorcycle riders are attempting to pass.

Maison Law

Martin Gasparian started Maison Law after gaining extensive experience with the oldest law firm in Los Angeles. If you have been involved in a motorcycle lane splitting accident, it is vital you seek representation from a law firm that understands the complexities of personal injury claims.

Mr. Gasparian will fight for fair compensation resulting from injuries and damages that have occurred in a motorcycle lane splitting accident. We can provide transportation if your injuries are preventing you from attending a consultation to discuss the merits of your case.