Motorcycle Accident Statistics in California: What the Numbers Tell Us

by Staff Blogger | April 10th, 2023

California is a prime destination for motorcyclists due to its pleasant weather and open roads. Unfortunately, it’s also a leading state in motorcycle accidents, with numerous life-altering injuries and fatalities each year.

Understanding the dangers of motorcycle riding and common accident causes can help you stay safe on the road. Contact the California motorcycle accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers if you are involved in a motorcycle crash. We have the resources and experience to help you maximize your compensation for your injuries.

California Motorcycle Accident Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 952,977 motorcycles registered in California in 2021. This means the Golden State has the highest number of registered motorcycles in the county.  

Unfortunately, California also has the second-highest annual motorcycle fatalities in the nation, with 539 deaths in 2020. This is a 58% increase over 2010 fatalities and 20% over those in 2015. The state also saw 10,122 motorcyclist injuries in 2021.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents occur for several reasons, including lane splitting, driving under the influence, and speeding. In California, these accidents can lead to devastating injuries for motorcycle riders and passengers.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting has been legal in California since 2017; however, it puts motorcycle riders at an increased risk of an accident. The most recent study on lane splitting in California found that 17% of motorcycle collisions between 2012 and 2013 involved lane splitting.

Lane splitting can be dangerous for motorcyclists because it reduces space for maneuvering a motorcycle. It also puts riders at risk of aggressive or negligent behavior from other motorists.

For example, drivers may intentionally try to push a lane-splitting motorcyclist off the road. They may also forget to check their blind spot when switching lanes on the highway, hitting the motorcyclist when changing lanes.


Speeding is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents nationwide. The NHTSA reports that speeding resulted in 11,258 fatalities in 2020.

California saw 1,228 speeding fatalities in 2020, reflecting a worrying trend of increased speeding deaths. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (CA-OTS) numbers,  speeding fatalities have increased by 16.3% since 2016 and 28.7% since 2012.

Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to speed-related accidents due to their lack of protection. Speeding in wet or rainy conditions can further increase the risk of accidents as it reduces visibility, decreases traction, and increases braking distance. This makes it crucial for motorcyclists to practice safe riding habits, especially in adverse weather.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

In 2020, the NHTSA recorded 1,159 fatalities from drunk driving in California. CA-OTS data indicates these numbers are 8.7% higher than in 2019 and 3.9% higher than in 2018.

In California, it is illegal for adults over 21 to drive with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of over 0.08%. However, a BAC as low as 0.02% can begin impairing a rider’s driving skills.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol significantly increases the risk of motorcycle accidents. Alcohol impairs drivers’ judgment, vision, and reaction time, making it more difficult to avoid hazards on the road. This applies to both motorcycle riders and vehicle drivers.

Schedule a Consultation with Berg Injury Lawyers

A motorcycle crash is devastating to its victims. From medical bills and lost wages to the significant emotional and psychological toll on riders and their families, dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be challenging.

Seek legal representation from expert motorcycle attorneys today so you have the support you need to win a fair settlement for your injuries. 

Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team stands up for the rights of motorcycle riders in the Golden State and will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve after an accident.