A lot of Californians will be hitting the road over the next two weeks. Low gas prices and other favorable factors mean that holiday travel may be more popular this year than it has been for quite some time. Here in Southern California, many will be traveling by motorcycle.

Whether you plan to ride across the state or just to another part of Los Angeles, please remember that holiday travel can be dangerous. There tends to be an increase in rates of drunk driving, and congested roads alone can make motorcycle accidents more likely. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the most common types of motorcycle accidents and how you can avoid them.

Among the most common two-vehicle accident scenarios are left-turn accidents. These occur when a car or other large vehicle attempts to turn left in front of oncoming traffic. Drivers often fail to see oncoming motorcyclists or they assume that the smaller vehicle is farther away than it actually is. The result is that the motorcyclist crashes into the side a larger vehicle at high speeds. In 2012 alone, left-turn accidents accounted for 40 percent of motorcyclist fatalities in two-vehicle accidents.

You may be surprised to learn that approximately half of all fatal motorcycle accidents do not involve contact with another vehicle. But this doesn’t mean other drivers don’t contribute to these accidents. Oftentimes, motorcyclists lose control or lose stability because they:

  • Over-compensate for another driver dangerously swerving into their lane
  • Their motorcycle tires lose traction because of oil or other fluids on the road
  • They need to swerve to avoid being hit by drivers who failed to observe a buffer zone
  • They strike road debris or swerve too violently when trying to avoid road debris

Perhaps the best thing you can do to avoid all of the accident scenarios listed above is to ride defensively. This means riding slower than you might be used to, putting more distance between yourself and other vehicles and always assuming that other drivers have a hard time seeing you or judging your proximity. And as always, please wear protective clothing and a safety-certified motorcycle helmet.