Archive for May, 2013

SoCal Motorcycle Accidents a Summer Danger

Recently, the Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a disturbing news release regarding a dramatic increase in motorcycle accident deaths in 2012. 

Our Orange County motorcycle accident attorneys know that riding a motorcycle can be inherently dangerous for many reasons, including the fact that motorists in passenger cars are often unfamiliar with how to safely share the road with motorcycle riders. Unfortunately, the new GHSA release indicates that things are getting much worse and that motorcycle riders may be in more danger than ever before.

GHSA Report on Motorcycle Deaths

The GHSA’s news release indicated that the new report was the first state-by-state look at motorcycle fatalities that occurred during 2012. The report is based on projected numbers and not final data. But the information available is already sufficient to show that motorcycle accident deaths increased significantly.

According to the data, there are around 5,000 fatalities projected for 2012. This is a nine percent increase as compared with the number of deaths in 2011. It is also a larger increase than was projected by the federal government, and it is close to the all-time record high.

Unfortunately, this increase is not an isolated event either, but is instead part of a trend. The year 2012 marks the 14th year out of the past 15 years where the number of motorcycle accident deaths increased.  While California did not experience an increase and, in fact, had three fewer deaths than the prior year, the GHSA attributes this not to any particular safety laws in California but instead to a down economy in the state over the course of the year. This means California residents, too, ought to be concerned about the increasing number of deaths. In fact, California is routinely the deadliest state in the nation for these kinds of accidents.

These continued national increases are especially upsetting in light of the fact that motorcycle fatalities are one of the few types of road fatalities that have shown no improvement over the past 10 years. In other words, while the number of deaths among all other categories of motorists are declining, the number of deaths among motorcycle riders continues to increase.

Protecting Motorcycle Riders

While sharing the bad news on motorcycle accident deaths, GHSA did have some suggestions that might be able to help improve things for the future. GHSA recommendations for states interested in reducing motorcycle fatalities included:

  • Increasing helmet use.
  • Reducing alcohol impairment.
  • Reducing speeding.
  • Providing training for all interested motorcycle operators.
  • Ensuring drivers of motorcycles are properly licensed.
  • Providing better education for drivers and encouraging them to better share the roads.

By conducting Share the Road educational campaigns, enforcing existing safety laws related to speeding and intoxicated driving, and perhaps instituting mandatory helmet laws, states might be able to do something to curb the rising tide of motorcycle accident deaths. It is clear something needs to be done to improve safety and prevent the number of deaths from going up year after year.

If you’ve been injured, or you lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707, or visit 19700 Fairchild, Suite 280, Irvine, CA 92612.


Motorcycle Accident Risk: Lane Splitting Legal But is it Smart?

Lane splitting occurs when motorcycle riders travel along in between two lanes of traffic. The practice allows motorcycle riders to avoid standing in long lines of cars and can help to keep traffic moving. It is a controversial behavior and one that some argue puts motorcycle riders and drivers at risk. We continue to highlight the risk of motorcycle accidents throughout May, which is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Our Irvine CA motorcycle accident attorneys know that cars already have a difficult time sharing the road with motorcycle riders even when motorcyclists stay in one lane and follow all of the same rules as motorcars. Lane splitting is something that cars won’t necessarily expect motorcycles to do, so the practice could make things worse. However, the California Highway Patrol indicates that the practice of lane splitting may not be all bad.

Lane Splitting Safety Issues

According to the Los Angeles Times,  lane splitting is controversial, with critics arguing that it is inherently dangerous. Yet, proponents indicate that lane splitting can help to reduce traffic jams, which everyone would agree are a major problem in many parts of Southern California.

Despite the critics warnings about the dangers of lane splitting, the practice is not illegal in California, although there are some limitations. Agencies have been haggling for several years about how to set guidelines for making sure that lane splitting is done safely, and the California Highway Patrol finally posted some guidelines recently that address the issue of exactly how and when lane splitting should be used.

According to the new guidelines, the fundamental rule regarding when a motorcycle rider can split lanes is whether the motorcycle rider can safely pass between the cars. There are three components to a motorcycle rider “safely” passing:

  • The motorcycle can only split lanes at 10 miles per hour above the traffic speed or less.
  • The motorcycle can only split lanes when traffic is moving at less than 30 miles per hour.
  • The motorcycle rider should always split lanes by traveling in the space between the number one and the number two lanes.

The LA Times is careful to note that these guidelines, which came from the California Highway Patrol, are just guidelines. The guidelines are not laws and a motorcycle rider cannot be cited or receive a ticket for failure to follow the guidelines. However, motorcycle riders can be cited for reckless driving of any kind.

As such, if law enforcement believes that a motorcycle rider was acting in an unsafe way through lane splitting or as a result of any other behavior, the police officer could cite the rider for his or her recklessness.

Staying Safe

While lane splitting may not be illegal, it can still be dangerous. After all, a driver might not expect a motorcycle to go zooming past him as he sits in traffic, and an accident could result with cars and bikes in such close proximity.

Both motorcycle riders and the drivers of passenger cars, therefore, have an obligation to be smart when it comes to avoiding a lane splitting crash. Cars should be on the lookout and remain alert for motorcyclists even when sitting in traffic, and motorcycle riders shouldn’t split lanes when it is not safe to do so.

If you’ve been injured, or you lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707, or visit 19700 Fairchild, Suite 280, Irvine, CA 92612.

May 2013

Irvine Traffic Accidents Involving Teens: May Among Year’s Most Dangerous Months

With car accidents the number one cause of fatalities among teens, it is important to do everything possible to try to prevent crashes and keep young people safe. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has been taking an in-depth look at the issue of teen driving and this May has released a new report designed to help states better engage parents of teen drivers. 

The report, called “Promoting Parent Involvement in Teen Driving: An In-Depth Look at the Importance and the Initiatives,” is the third in a series and was produced with a grant from State Farm auto insurance. Our Irvine car accident attorneys hope that parents are able to use the report and the information contained within to help their kids avoid a potentially deadly crash.

Parents Can Protect Teen Drivers

The GHSA indicates that parents play a “critical role” in helping teenagers to avoid car accidents. In order for parents to be effective, however, they need to understand the different risk factors that their children face. Parents also need to spend time working with their children, modeling good behavior, observing teens as they drive and shaping the way that teenagers view safe driving.

Some of the issues specifically addressed in the report include:

  • Information on the top risks of teen driving, including inexperience as well as developmental and behavioral issues inherent in adolescence.
  • Details on key risk factors for crashing including alcohol, fatigue, speeding and driver distraction.
  • Information on graduated driver licensing and on tools parents can use to enforce the graduated licensing rules. A graduated drivers license system can produce a 20-40 percent reduction in teen crashes. The first stage is a learner’s permit wherein a teen drives only with a licensed driver. A restricted license is the next stage and usually includes limits on the number of passengers who can be in the car with the teen driver. Finally, a full license is earned.
  • Details on how best to talk to teens. The report indicates that when kids perceive parents as authoritative, they are about 1/2 as likely to be involved in a car wreck and are 50 percent more likely to buckle their seat belts. They are also 71 percent less likely to drive drunk and 30 percent less likely to talk or text on a cell phone while driving.
  • Tips on supervising teen drivers’ education. The first two years are the two most dangerous for new teen drivers, and parents should carefully monitor their kids during this time.
The GHSA report also urged parents to make use of a Parent/Teen Driving agreement. This agreement is a type of contract that outlines the obligations and restrictions placed on a teen driver. Both the parents and teens will sign the agreement so the rules for safe driving are clearly laid out.
The Parent/Teen agreement, as well as all of the information in the GHSA’s report, can make a real difference for parents in keeping teens safe. Not only will this benefit the young drivers but it is also beneficial to every single person on the road who could become involved in a crash with a young person operating a motor vehicle.
If you’ve been injured, or you lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707, or visit 19700 Fairchild, Suite 280, Irvine, CA 92612.