New statistics showed that motorcycle accident fatalities in California decreased by around 30 percent in the period between 2016 and 2017. The sharp decrease in deaths on the roads of California is especially remarkable considering that the nationwide decrease in that period was only 5.6 percent.
In fact, only Wyoming, Mississippi, Delaware, and the District of Columbia have surpassed California in the number of motorcycle accident deaths between those years. So the question on everyone’s mind is, “Why is this happening? Why is California, which is infamous for its terrible and frequent motorcycle crashes, all of a sudden has fewer fatalities?”
Does lane splitting have anything to do with the decrease in motorcycle accident deaths?
“The sharp decrease in motorcycle accident fatalities in California could be a direct result of state lawmakers making it lawful to lane split,” says our Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney at the Law Offices of Howard Kornberg. “Our lawyers in California have also received fewer phone calls from motorcycle accident victims between 2016 and 2017, compared to previous years, but in no way does it mean that motorcycle crashes are non-existent in California now.”
What is lane splitting? Lane splitting is riding a motorcycle between lanes or rows of slowed or stopped traffic.
Experts argue that the decision to make lane splitting legal in California killed two birds with one stone. Firstly, it forced car drivers to pay more attention to their surroundings and be on alert. And secondly, it reduced the likelihood of risky behaviors and unexpected maneuvers from motorcyclists (after all, a large portion of motorcycle accidents was caused by riders being struck from behind in slow-moving traffic).
Other reasons why there are fewer motorcycle fatalities in California
“At first, people in California were concerned that making lane-splitting lawful would actually increase the severity and frequency of motorcycle accidents,” says our experienced motorcycle crash lawyer in Los Angeles. “But in reality, the decision to allow motorcyclists to ride between lanes and rows of slowed or stopped traffic when going below 50 mph may be the main reason why the number of motorcycle accidents has decreased.”
However, experts also argue that the unusually wet winter between 2016 and 2017 could also have contributed to the decrease in motorcycle accident deaths in that period. The thing is: taking a motorcycle for a ride that winter was a rather risky decision, which is why you could not see many motorcyclists in California that winter.
“This could have an impact on the fatality disease as well,” says our Los Angeles motorcycle accident attorney. “It makes sense that with fewer motorcyclists on the road comes fewer motorcycle accidents, and, in turn, fewer fatalities.”
Motorcycle accidents still occur though: Have you been in one?
Increased attention to unsafe and illegal behaviors on the road from law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, could also be a contributing factor. Police officers and CHP agents have been more active in issuing tickets to both motorcyclists and car drivers who break the law.
However, in no way does it mean that getting injured or losing your loved one in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California is no longer possible. There are still plenty of distracted and drunk motorists. Plenty of car drivers and motorcyclists still speed and run red lights. They fail to yield the right of way and engage in a plethora of other unsafe and risky behaviors on the road.