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Negligent road design, upkeep pose major threat to motorcyclists

Any given road in California might be used by more than just four-wheeled motor vehicles. Beyond cars, pickup trucks and SUVs, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians also use the road. No matter the mode of transportation, everyone on the road owes a duty of caution to others.

Although many collisions are caused by the missteps of motorists, certain accidents might be caused by factors outside the control of anyone on the road. Road design and maintenance can play a major role in a person's ability to safely navigate from one point to another.

In one of our firm's articles, we addressed the issues surrounding negligent road design and maintenance. California law requires public officials to keep roads "reasonably safe for travel." This means that major potholes should be patched, debris should be cleaned up and the physical layout of roadways shouldn't provide a direct threat to anyone on the road -- motorists, bikers and pedestrians alike.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roads are generally designed for multi-wheeled motor vehicles. Of course, this approach blatantly disregards the needs of so many people who use roadways every day. The agency specifically points out that significant pavement ridges, potholes and slick asphalt sealer can interfere with the safe operation of a motorcycle and, in some cases, cause an accident.

While traveling at highway speeds, the ability of a motorcycle to handle a pothole or bump in the road is far different than a four-wheeled sedan. Motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers, so their needs should be considered.

In some cases, state or local officials might fail to meet their responsibilities to maintain or design safe roads. Unfortunately, motorcyclists and others on the road are the ones who are likely to be harmed the most as a result of these issues.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Roadway Characteristics," Motorcycle Safety Foundation, accessed March 21, 2014

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