Understanding Motorcycle Accidents in San Francisco—What Causes Them and What Happens After?

There are over 22,800 motorcycles registered in San Francisco County alone and 800,000 across California. Ridership has increased steadily for years as motorcycles have become more socially acceptable and fuel-efficient alternative transportation. However, motorcycles can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Every year there are nearly 4,000 fatal motorcycle accidents nationwide. That number has continued to climb steadily even as the number of overall traffic accidents in the U.S. has decreased. In fact, while motorcycles comprise 2% of all registered vehicles, riders (drivers and passengers) are 37 times more likely to die than those in automobiles.

What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Accidents in San Francisco

While motorcycle safety awareness campaigns have painted a picture of distracted or inattentive automobile drivers as the culprits responsible for the majority of these accidents, motorcyclist themselves are actually at fault in 69% of all motorcycle accidents in California. (I know this, because I’m guilty of it myself, but people who like adrenaline-pumping activities, are drawn to riding motorcycles. It’s in our blood! Cautious, paranoid and highly anxious people do NOT ride motorcycles. They like the safety of their SUV’s. 😉

Data collected by the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) and published in the California’s 2013 Annual Performance Report paints a detailed picture of how, why, where, and when motorcycles accidents happen and much can be learned from these raw numbers.

In 2012, there were 435 motorcycle crashes in California (up 4.6% from the year before).

Bad habits and poor decisions made by motorcyclists are significant contributing factors to not only the number of motorcycle accidents in San Francisco but the severity of those crashes as well.

  • 33% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2012 were riding without valid licenses.
  • 29% fatal injuries involved riders who had been drinking with blood alcohol content levels (BACs) at or above the legal limit (.08). That’s an increase of 4% over the previous year.
  • 34% of all riders in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of their accidents.
  • 706 of the riders who died in 2010 weren’t wearing helmets.

A NHTSA Pilot Study found that a rider’s experience level also has a significant effect on their likelihood of being involved in a crash. The vast majority of motorcycle accidents in San Francisco involve riders who have had had their license for less than one year.

What You Can Do to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents in San Francisco

If you’re a rider, ride safely and ride smart. If you’re a driver, watch out for motorcycles and you could save a life. Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of accident and potentially reduce the severity of any injuries you may suffer.

  • Take a safety course—rider education and experience is the #1 factor in decreasing motorcycle accidents not caused by reckless behavior.
  • Get a license. Riding without one is not only illegal, it’s unsafe.
  • Ride Sober—drunk or buzzed driving is deadly.
  • Avoid riding at night until you’re comfortable on your bike.
  • Where a helmet—they save lives.

What You Can Do After a Motorcycle Accident in San Francisco

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident in San Francisco that wasn’t your fault, the first thing you should do is seek medical treatment. However, there are a number of other things you should do to protect yourself and safeguard your financial security.

· Get the Other Driver’s Information Yourself

This includes name, address, registration number (license plate), insurance info, etc.. The police may collect some or all of this information but doing so yourself ensures you have it when you (and your motorcycle accident attorney) need it.

· Don’t Waive Treatment

Many people with relatively minor injuries are tempted to waive treatment and ambulance rides because of the expense but you may not even know how badly you’re injured until you see a doctor.

· Don’t Take Money from the Driver

Many times at fault drivers will offer money to victims in order to avoid the “hassle” of dealing with insurance, personal injury lawyers, and courtrooms. Don’t take it. It is most always less than you’re legally entitled to and can damage your chances of receiving compensation.

Contact a San Francisco Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Don’t let the financial impact of a motorcycle accident add to your misery. A lawyer specializing in motorcycle accidents in San Francisco can help you navigate the complicated legal maze involved with recovering all of the financial support you may be entitled to. They can concentrate on getting you what you deserve while you concentrate on getting back on your feet.

As a long-time rider of two-wheeled vehicles, I understand the risks and challenges of riding a motorcycle in the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, the serious injury of a close friend of mine (she was hit on her motorcycle by a motorist who ran a red light) was what lead me to become a San Francisco personal injury lawyer who focuses on motorcycle, scooter and bicycle accidents.