Fatal motorcycle accidents in California and the U.S. have been on the increase. In 2015 (according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)), 14% of traffic-related fatalities were motorcyclists, although motorcycles represented just 3% of all registered vehicles. Although motorcycles are inherently risky and prone to accidents, there are ways to improve your safety.

The most common causes of motorcycle accidents (leading to the need for a motorcycle accident attorney), and how to avoid them, include:

1. Lack of Training

The vast majority of motorcycle accident victims don’t have any formal training. In fact, people often learn from family members and friends. Many riders don’t even have valid licenses. The solution is simple; training increases awareness of safety, reduces one’s accident and injury risk, and helps riders learn how to avoid collisions and road hazards

2. Alcohol/Drug Use

Studies have found intoxication a factor in half of all fatal motorcycle accidents. The most commonly intoxicated motorists, motorcyclists are also less likely to wear a helmet when drunk. Drinking alcohol impairs a person’s coordination and balance, which are essential when riding a motorcycle. You can avoid an accident or a DUI by not drinking if you plan to ride, choosing a designated driver, or using a rideshare company.

3. Left-Turning Cars at Intersections

An intersection is one of the most dangerous locations. A car waiting at a traffic light may not see a motorcycle, instead focusing on cars and trucks. Motorists often misjudge the speed of a motorcycle and turn at the wrong time or make a left-hand turn while the motorcycle is going straight. Collisions can be avoided by looking for turn signals, observing a car’s wheels for signs of turning, and noticing whether drivers are looking at their mirrors and blind spots.

4. Head-On Collisions

A head-on collision often occurs at high speeds, causing the motorcyclist to be crushed or catapulted into the air. By being aware of your surroundings, you can avoid a crash. Always observe what’s ahead, over hills, around curves, and at overpasses. Motorcyclists should drive to the right when near an oncoming car, drive at a reasonable speed, or ride off the road to avoid an impending collision. Slamming the breaks, jerking the handles, or turning abruptly, however, increases the risk of crashing.

5. Rear-End Collisions

Being rear-ended in a car is often just an inconvenience. If you’re driving a motorcycle, it’s more likely to be deadly. Since you can’t see motorists behind you, it is hard to avoid this type of collision, but you can look for crumple zones. Pull in front of other cars, so it’s more likely a motorist hits another car, or stop to the side of your lane and tap the brakes, so your brake lights alert other drivers.

6. Speeding

One-third of motorcyclists fatally injured were killed due to speeding, according to an NHSTA report in 2015. The faster you ride, the worse crash-related injuries will be. A speeding motorcycle is harder to see. Lane-splitting makes the situation even worse. To reduce your risk, slow down and pay attention to road and weather conditions.

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