True, most motorcycle accidents involving young riders involve negligence on the part of the young motorcycle rider. Some teens since childhood have been riding on the back of motorcycles since they were kids. Because of this, they likely know about leaning into turns and the overall feel of open-air riding. But the teen motorcycle crash statistics don’t tell the whole story. Some accidents are caused by other motor vehicle drivers. Mainly, teens, even when not at fault, with proper safety training, can avoid being hit by another errant motorist.
I am Los Angeles motorcycle lawyer, Michael Ehline. I am a parent, rider, and extremely famous motorcycle lawyer based in LA, California. I have been featured in CNN, Forbes, and Newsweek Magazine, as well as California Lawyer and the Los Angeles Daily Journal. My law firm, Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. My goal in writing this series on teen motorcycle riding is to educate parents and youngsters in their rights, duties, and obligations while navigating California’s roadways. Don’t take my expert knowledge with a grain of salt.
I have won hundreds of millions of dollars for my clients, many of whom were wounded, or killed while riding motorcycles. My testimonials page says it all. Clients love me for a reason. And many of our past customers realize they could have taken additional steps reducing the chances of being hit, or at least reducing the overall injuries to life and limb. Below, I am going to put my expert knowledge and years of legal experience to work for you.
Over the years, motorcycle accident statistics involving young people have shown the dangers for riders on the roadways. Because of this, youth safety programs have been created. And these programs can help reduce the overall motor vehicle accident toll. With rising fuel costs, there are now more motorcycles on the roads in California cities, highways, and freeways.
This could result in more people being severely injured or killed each year. In California, between the years of 2004 and 2009, a total of 383 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle crashes, and an additional 10,479 injured. But how many wrecks involving youngsters are due to negligence, as opposed to pure “accidents” with no one at fault at all?
The statistics for these years, when separated into age groups, show that the number of riders who were injured between the ages of 15 and 24 equaled 2,175. Surprisingly, despite this age group’s relative inexperience and “need for speed,” this young sampling doesn’t even account for the largest number of casualties. The highest number of deaths (89) actually lies in the 25-34 age group, with 2,241 additional injuries.
In even older groups of riders, the number of injuries and deaths remain high, with 49 riders killed and 1,776 riders injured in the 54-64 age group. Some of these cases involved rider error, some were made worse by inexperience, even though the rider was blameless. When a rider is not at fault, or less at fault, that means the person most responsible is on the risk to pay the accident victim his or her fair share of the liability claim for bodily injuries and property damages.
Negligence is defined as a personal injury (like a cut, or whiplash from a rear-ender), or injury to property (dents or scratches on your motorbike), caused by another person who was failing to act reasonably for the given set of facts and circumstances. It can be gleaned from these statistics that at least some of the wrecks involving riders are caused by the negligence of riders themselves, as well as other vehicle operators. (See the video explaining the elements of negligence here).
Many motorcycle lawyers believe the number of deaths and injuries is unlikely to decrease, in part, because of the fluctuating cost of fuel. For now, under President Trump, the U.S. is the world’s leader in energy production and moving towards a long term, staged goal in green energy. So fuel costs are stable. But under a democratic administration that normally changes as the progressive wing of that party wants to eliminate fossil fuels before having a viable alternative. This means that more people will use their motorcycles for daily transportation instead of a vehicle that costs more to run.
Unfortunately, not all of these people are experienced in driving defensively, and there is no room for error on a two-wheeled vehicle. As a matter of fact, single-vehicle collisions or those with stationary objects, or even potholes are just one of the many ways a teen or adult can be killed while riding a chopper.
California weather may permit a longer riding season for motorcyclists. Moreover, for the years from 2004-2009, the data for deaths and injuries are categorized by month.
What these statistics do not reveal is the severity of the injuries suffered by motorcyclists – i.e. if they became permanently disabled and who was at fault for the motorcycle crash. However, there are some statistics that do show the cause of motorcycle accidents. One of these types of statistical reports was released from a study conducted in 2006, by the University of Southern California, and funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The study became known as the “Hurt” Report, named after researcher Harry Hurt.
The study used data from 900 motorcycle accidents that occurred within the Los Angeles area and 3,600 other motorcycle traffic accidents that occurred within the area. What was found from the use of this data?
These few statistics available for teen riders prove two things:
Clearly inexperience and youth go hand in hand. So naturally, some of the wrecks can be attributed to rider negligence. Unfortunately, youthful bikers have somewhat unfairly gotten a reputation of being bold and making rash decisions on the roads. But this is a false assumption in most cases, just as it is for most young enclosed-motor-vehicle drivers. In any event, the connection between young riders and their resulting injuries and fatalities is alarming.
Well aware of the high risk of injury and death, experienced motorcycle riders typically operate their bikes more carefully than most drivers operate their cars. When a motorcycle accident does happen, the rider is often either severely injured or even killed. And mainly this is because they do not have the same protection as vehicle drivers. They have no airbags, seatbelts, or metal cage to protect their body in the event of a collision, dip, or pothole.
In California and throughout the country there have been programs established to make drivers of motor vehicles more aware of sharing the roads with motorcyclists. Teaching kids the importance of that layer of foam padding and plastic in a “helmet” is one of the many safety topics taught to kids. This has helped decrease motorcycle collisions and taught non-riders the importance of laws allowing “lane splitting,” as well as other issues such as yielding to the biker’s right of way.
So, although there are no outright statistics showing how many people were negligent, clearly there are connections between young, relatively inexperienced riders and these types of collisions exist. Thus, it is clear that experience matters in reducing negligence-related mishaps in our youth. Above we discussed teen motorcycle riding, accidents, statistics, and avoiding risks.
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