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NHTSA data reveals common causes of motorcycle accidents

Many California residents choose motorcycles as a form of transportation because of convenience, maneuverability, gas efficiency, and fun. However, anyone who reads the news will frequently come across reports of motorcycle accidents, many involving fatalities or catastrophic injuries, on nearly a daily basis. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation recently released its latest report on motorcycles and traffic safety facts. The report analyzes data from 2011, the most recent data available.

In total, the NHTSA reported that the number of motorcyclists -- including drivers and passengers -- killed in motorcycle crashes rose by 2 percent from 2010. The number of fatalities for 2011 reached over 4,600. In contrast, the number of motorcyclists injured in accidents decreased slightly from 82,000 in 2010 to 81,000 in 2011. Approximately 49,000 of all crashes were characterized as multi-vehicle crashes. The most common type of collision (75 percent) was with a vehicle in front of the motorcycle.

The report indicated that motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle were commonly caused by the driver of the other motor vehicle. In 38 percent of the accidents, the driver of a motor vehicle caused a collision by turning left in front of a motorcyclist who was traveling forward, passing another vehicle or overtaking another vehicle. Approximately 6 percent of motorcycle accidents resulted from rear-end collisions where the motorcycle was hit from behind. California ranked third in the number of total motorcycle fatalities during 2011, following only Texas and Florida.

What these statistics reveal is that motorcycle accidents are not only common but also generally more serious than car accidents. When a motorcyclist is injured or killed in an accident that was due to the fault of another driver, the law provides for filing a personal liability or wrongful death lawsuit in order to provide compensation for victims.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, "Traffic Safety Facts: 2011 Data, Motorcycles," 2011

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