A motorcyclist from Napa was seriously injured Sunday when he hit a cow on the road near Stewarts Point, about 35 miles north of Bodega Bay. The cow died in the accident.
• A motorcyclist from Napa was riding on Highway 1 when he hit a cow in the road.
• The cow died.
• The motorcyclist was airlifted to a hospital with major injuries.
• Highway 1 runs through a free-range cattle area in Sonoma County, so cows frequently pass across the roadway.
California Highway Patrol officer Jon Sloat said 61-year-old Richard Watkins was riding a 1993 Suzuki 1100 motorcycle southbound on Highway 1 — also known as the Shoreline Highway — when the crash happened.
The cow died.
Sloat was thrown off of his bike. He was wearing a helmet but he suffered major injuries.
Paramedics responded to the scene and airlifted Sloat to by helicopter to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition, according to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.
On the Sonoma County coast, Highway 1 passes through unfenced open-range areas where cattle are allowed to roam freely. There are signs on the road warning motorists to look out for cows on the road, Sloat said.
Dangers of Rural Highways
There are many dangers in addition to livestock on rural highways, which account for a greater percentage of motor vehicle accident fatalities than urban highways.
Only 23 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, but 57 percent of all motor vehicle accident fatalities occur on rural roads, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The NHTSA’s latest figures show that the fatality rate per vehicle miles traveled was 2.5 times higher in rural areas than in urban areas.
A large majority of car accident deaths in rural areas — 67 percent — occur on highways, where the speed limit is 55 mph or higher. In urban areas, the opposite is true: 68 percent of all fatal crashes occur on roads where the speed limit is less than 50 mph.
Rural highways often are only two lanes, which presents significant danger to motorists who use the oncoming traffic lane to pass at high speed.
Finally, hospitals are few and far between in rural areas. The risk of dying on the way to the hospital is significantly higher in a rural accident than an urban one.
California Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have successfully represented motorcycle accident victims and their families for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1-866-692-8126.