Motorcycle accident fatalities are reaching a record high in Los Angeles County, according to this news report in the Pasadena Star News. California Highway Patrol officials say 96 people died in motorcycle collisions in 2008 in Los Angeles County compared to 58 deaths in 2001.
In 2007, 85 people died in motorcycle accidents. Statewide, the number of people who are taking to riding motorcycles has increased dramatically over the last five years. About 1.2 million Californians have licenses to drive motorcycles, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. That is 300,000 more riders than in 2001.
These are shockingly high numbers for Los Angeles County, no doubt. However, it is important to remember that motorcycle accidents occur for a number of reasons. Like any Southern California auto accident, speed, alcohol and driver error could play a role. But then, a number of collisions also have to do with other motorists on the road – including those of us who drive cars, trucks, SUVs and big rigs – not paying attention to the road. Especially, we see more instances of drivers failing to notice motorcyclists as they are passing an intersection or riding on the freeway. This makes motorcyclists all the more vulnerable on our roadways.
Another common reason why motorcycle accidents occur is dangerous roadways. There is an example of one in this news report – Glendora Mountain Road in the Angeles National Forest where two recent head-on collisions were reported within a few weeks. Another dangerous place for motorcyclists in the county seems to be a five-mile stretch of the west 10 Freeway as it approaches the 605 Freeway. Three people died in motorcycle accidents on that stretch in 2008.
Other dangerous conditions on roadways for motorcyclists include spilled debris, potholes or roadways with poor visibility. In cases where a motorcycle accident is caused by a dangerous roadway, injured victims and families of deceased accident victims are eligible to file a claim against the governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway. Such claims against public entities must be filed within six months of the accident, according to California Government Code.