San Diego motorcycle lawyers see the life-shattering impact that collisions with motorcycle riders have on riders and their families. Every motorcyclist should enjoy the experience of riding, but they should never lose sight of the need to ride safely and defensively.
Too many motorcycle accidents lead to serious injuries and wrongful deaths in San Diego County. Here are three things you should know if you plan to ride your motorcycle in or near San Diego.
The most dangerous places to ride
Statistically speaking, the most dangerous place to ride your motorcycle in San Diego County is the intersection of Route 76 and Palomar Mountain Road (also known as South Grade Road). According to an investigation by the San Diego Union-Tribune, that intersection accounts for more motorcycle accidents than any other location in the county. The intersection regularly produces about two dozen motorcycle accidents each year.
Why is the intersection so risky for motorcycle riders? The explanation is unclear. The twenty hairpin turns on the mountain road may attract riders looking for a challenging ride. South Grade leads to the top of Palomar Mountain, a popular destination for riders who want to take in a beautiful view. There may be more motorcycle accidents on South Grade simply because the road is so popular with motorcycle riders.
Other spots in San Diego County that each accounted for more than a half dozen motorcycle crashes in 2009 are:
- Chihuahua Valley Road at Route 79 north of Julian
- Magnolia Avenue at Route 78 in Ramona
- Otay Lakes Road at Wueste Road near Eastlake
- Interstate 5 at Route 76 in Oceanside
- Interstate 5 at Route 78 in Oceanside
- Route 52 at Interstate 805 in San Diego.
- Alturas Road at Ammunition Drive in Fallbrook
- East Grade Road at Route 76 west of Lake Henshaw
- Engineers Road at Route 79 by Lake Cuyamaca
- Oceanside Boulevard at I-5 in Oceanside
- Old Julian Highway at Route 78 in Julian
- Route 15 at Route 94 in San Diego
- I-5 at Interstate 8 in Mission Valley
Of course, any location can be dangerous when a motorcycle rider is not fully attentive or when the driver of a car or truck is careless. The risk of an accident escalates when a driver or rider has consumed alcohol. Safe and sober driving and driving are the keys to minimizing motorcycle accidents in San Diego County.
The most dangerous times to ride
More motorcycle accidents in San Diego County occur on Saturday than on any other day. The fact that many recreational riders who drive a car during the week take their bikes out on weekends probably accounts for that statistic.
The most dangerous time of day for San Diego motorcyclists is 5:00 p.m., probably because drivers who are returning home from work are flooding the roads and highways at that time. More San Diego motorcycle accidents occur in October than any other month.
Motorcyclist deaths in San Diego County are rising
A report by the San Diego County Medical Examiner tabulates motorcyclist fatalities in the county from 1988 to 2012. Deaths peaked in 1990, when 62 motorcyclists died in traffic accidents. Deaths declined sharply beginning in 1992 before reaching a low of 19 in 1999. Death rates began to rise again in 2000. San Diego County experienced 57 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2012.
The report indicates that all but five of the motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents during 2012 were male. Fifteen riders who died were between the ages of 25-34, while fourteen were between the ages of 55-64.
Nearly 90% of the riders who died were wearing helmets (the coroner's office lacked information as to whether the other 10% were wearing helmets). While helmets can help prevent or minimize traumatic brain injuries for motorcyclists who survive a crash, they offer no protection against other potentially fatal injuries.
Insurance statistics suggest that about half of San Diego's motorcycle accidents are listed as “single vehicle” accidents, meaning there was no collision with another vehicle. Keep in mind, however, that when a motorcyclist loses control while swerving to avoid a car that turned in front of the motorcyclist or that merged into the lane in which the motorcyclist was riding, the accident will be listed as “single vehicle” despite the fault of another driver.
Whether or not another vehicle was involved, nearly all motorcycle crashes result in injury to the motorcyclist. Most accidents that result in a rider's death, however, involve a collision between the motorcycle and the driver of a four wheel vehicle. A majority of those are the fault of the driver, not the motorcycle rider. Riding defensively is the San Diego motorcyclist's best protection against a fatal crash.