May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month in California. Summer brings more motorcyclists on California roads, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Accordingly, CHP and the California Office of Traffic Safety are working together to help reduce motorcycle fatality and injury collisions, and to promote roadway safety through education and awareness.
“No matter how you travel on California’s roadways, safety should always come first,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Motorcyclists and drivers both share equal responsibility for roadway safety. Motorcyclists are sometimes hard to see and are more vulnerable to collisions than other drivers. Be alert, share the road, and look twice for riders.”
CHP data showed 476 statewide motorcyclist fatalities and 14,000 injuries in 2016; in 2015, the numbers were 494 killed and 13,500 injured.
Hill highways, popular for motorcycle “runs” from the desert and surrounding metro areas, have historically tallied a high number of motorcycle-involved collisions, possibly owing to Hill weather and road conditions that are different from riders’ points of travel origin. Last year those numbers were down — no fatalities, 18 injuries and two property damage crashes on Hill roads (highways 243 and 74).
“We know Idyllwild is a popular destination for motorcyclists in the spring and summer,” said CHP Public Information Officer Darren Meyer. “With snow and rain, gravel and cinders can remain on the roadway shoulders and in the center of roadways for months, causing risk for motorcyclists. It’s like riding on marbles. Everyone, including local resident drivers, needs to be careful. It’s a team effort to be safe.”
CHP advises riders to protect themselves by wearing proper helmets and protective gear, always using turn signals, never riding in a driver’s blind spot, obeying rules of the road and riding sober.
Motorists can do their part by responsibly sharing the road — looking twice for motorcyclists and leaving plenty of space between their vehicle and the rider. “Both riders and drivers must be constantly aware of the dangers,” said Rhonda Craft, OTS director. “We all have to be mindful of every vehicle around us and share the roadways with safety in mind.”
Since California law does not specifically prohibit motorcyclists from lane splitting on state freeways, motorists must be especially vigilant to be aware of riders’ lane maneuverings. California law does prohibit drivers from intentionally blocking or impeding motorcyclists in a way that could cause them harm (CVC 22400).