| Read Time: 4 minutes | Personal Injury

California is well-known for its scenic roadways, and taking a motorcycle ride down the Pacific Coast Highway can provide some of the most breathtaking views in the country.

Aside from the incredible scenic rides California offers, it is also known for its immense traffic and congestion. Some Californians ride motorcycles as a means of transportation that often offers quicker commute times than a car or mass transit. However, the extensive traffic and winding scenic highways create hazardous conditions for motorcycle riders. The statistics can be frightening. 

Whether you are an avid rider interested in learning more about the California motorcycle crash statistics or someone you love has been injured in an accident, we have gathered some facts and information for you regarding California motorcycle accident statistics. Understanding the numbers and learning more about motorcycle safety can help lead to safer roads and fewer accidents. 

California & Los Angeles County Statistics

In 2021, according to the California Highway Patrol’s SWITRS data, 13,381 motorcycle crashes occurred in the state, including crashes that resulted in both injuries and fatalities.

In the same year, Los Angeles County led the state with the most significant number of motorcycle accidents. There were a total of 2,803 accidents that resulted in 3,086 injured individuals and 133 fatalities. Among those injured, 837 people sustained severe injuries.

Specifically, in the city of Los Angeles, 942 motorcycle accidents were reported in 2021, and these accidents resulted in 53 deaths and 346 individuals with severe injuries. 

Quick Statistics – California Motorcycle Crash Deaths

If you are looking for fatal motorcycle crash statistics, here is a quick snapshot of California’s total number of motorcycle deaths over the 10 years between 2011 and 2021. 

YearCalifornia Motorcycle Deaths

*Please note the statistics for 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2019 are from fact sheets that are only available through downloading the fact sheet from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

As you can see, while the numbers have fluctuated and tended to increase slightly over the years, they remain in a similar range despite the growth in the overall population. 

Motorcycle vs. Car Accident Statistics

California has an estimated 812,924 registered motorcyclists compared to nearly 27 million licensed drivers. As you might imagine, the disproportionate number of car drivers to motorcycle drivers results in thousands more car accidents than motorcycle-involved incidents.

For instance, in 2021, there were over 200,000 traffic accidents compared to approximately 13,000 accidents involving motorcycles. While the two can be difficult to compare in statistics, they both lead to injuries and fatalities each year. 

Motorcycle Helmet Use in Accidents

States with universal motorcycle helmet laws, like California, tend to have a much higher rate of helmet use than those with no or partial helmet laws. 

California requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For more information about the specifically approved helmets, you can visit the California DMV Motorcycle Handbook.

Not only can helmets save your life, but they can also significantly reduce your chance of a head or brain injury. In California in 2020, 7% of motorcyclists who were killed were known to be unhelmeted at the time of their crash. This is below the national average of 11%. 

However, California’s overall motorcyclist deaths from not wearing a helmet increased by 9% from 34 in 2020 to 37 in 2021.

A Note About 2020 Statistics

We should continue to observe motorcycle accident trends over the coming years. Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the significant decrease in vehicles on the road, the statistics may not accurately reflect what would normally have happened had the streets been populated as usual. 

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Adhering to specific safety protocols, tips, and guidance can significantly reduce your risk of an accident and injury. If you ride a motorcycle, here are some tips for staying safe on the road.

Wear Proper Safety Gear 

The most important tip for staying safe is wearing your helmet. It may sound remedial, but the truth is helmets save lives. You should always wear a properly fitting helmet when riding a motorbike. It is also essential to wear other safety gear, including:

  • Gloves;
  • Eye protection;
  • High-top boots or shoes, preferably with steel-toe protection;
  • Snug-fitting clothing covering arms and legs; and
  • Brightly colored or reflective clothing after dark.

Parts of California have some of the hottest temperatures in the country, but despite the heat, you must wear safety gear that can potentially save your life, including long sleeves and pants. 

Ensure Your Bike Is Working Properly

Before heading out, you should always check over your bike, including checking your tires, lights, brakes, and fluids. If anything seems off, take alternative means of transportation until you can have the motorcycle looked at by a certified mechanic.

Avoid Poor Weather & Road Conditions

If possible, avoid riding your motorcycle when the anticipated weather is less than favorable. In addition, avoid roads that are poorly maintained. 

Do Not Drink and Ride

It almost goes without saying that you should never drink and get on your motorcycle. Just as it is illegal to consume alcohol above the legal limit and drive a car, it is just as unlawful to operate a motorcycle. And drinking or drugging and riding can be even more fatal than getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Lane Split Safely

In California, it is legal for motorcyclists to lane split or ride between vehicles. However, you should follow specific tips to do so safely. This includes avoiding riding between large vehicles, staying in the furthest left lanes, and being visible to other drivers. 

Sometimes, despite taking all necessary precautions, accidents happen. Consider contacting a personal injury attorney if you or a loved one is the victim of a motorcycle wreck.

California Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If a loved one was recently involved in a motorcycle crash and was lucky enough to survive, there is likely a long road to recovery ahead. We understand the statistics can be scary to read in black and white, and knowing where to go from here and what your rights are can be overwhelming. At Peerali Law, we fight for accident victims daily; let us help you. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation. 

Author Photo

Kristopher earned his J.D. at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he was a member of the Review of Law and Social Justice honors law journal and was awarded several scholastic honors.

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