Quarter of all motorcycle accidents are rear-end collisions in traffic

When distraction or tailgating causes a motorcycle accident, remedies are available.

Because of California's climate, it is possible to ride a motorcycle for much of the year without needing to store a bike for months like riders in other parts of the country. Commuting on a motorcycle around the Sacramento-metro area can also save money on gas and it is often quicker.

Riding a motorcycle in traffic does come with some dangers, however. Over the summer, a Sacramento motorcyclist stopped in traffic was rear-ended by a car. The force threw him from his bike and into the car's windshield.

Luckily, several Army paramedics were nearby watching a training exercise. They rushed to the motorcyclist's aid and described his symptoms as the "Groundhog Day" effect similar to when Bill Murray relives the same day repeatedly. The rider was alert, but kept asking what had happened, which could have been a sign of a concussion or a traumatic brain injury.

According to National Highway Safety Transportation Administration research more than a quarter of motorcycle accidents are rear-end collisions that occur while a rider is stuck in traffic.

Some safety advocates cite lane splitting as a means to reduce the number of these accidents. A study cited by the Los Angeles Times even predicted that lane splitting could prevent 18,000 freeway accidents nationally.

Lane splitting controversy

Lane splitting is when a motorcycle rider uses the portion of the road between two lanes to pass larger vehicles when traffic is slow or stopped. The practice is legal in California, but it is the only state to allow the maneuver.

For experienced riders, it is a way to avoid the typical rear-end situation when a driver does not stop in time because of tailgating or distractions like putting on makeup, drinking coffee or reading a paper. Driving slowly between the lanes allows a rider to be in a better defensive position. It is still important to watch what other drivers are doing and look for the quick over-the-shoulder glance prior to a change of lanes.

In what might indicate a move to ban or discourage the practice, the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol have removed guidance on safe lane splitting from their websites. Guidance that used to start with a warning that "[l]ane splitting should not be performed by inexperienced riders" will not be included in the 2015 revision of the DMV's printed handbook.

Lane splitting when done safely can reduce traffic congestion and reduce the amount of time it takes to get to the office. However, when riding between lanes in heavy traffic it is important to watch for drivers that quickly change lanes without a signal. Some drivers even admit to swerving to block motorcycles, because they do not like the practice.

Seek the assistance of an attorney following an accident

When a negligent driver causes a crash, you may suffer serious injuries. The recovery from a concussion or brain injury may be much more frustrating and lengthy that you initially expected. Seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney is one way to ensure a fair settlement and allows you to focus on getting back to normal.

Keywords: Motorcycle accidents, lane-splitting, rear-end collisions