May 3, 2016
Motorcycle Accident Rates on the Rise
Just this month, several motorcycle accidents have occurred in Massachusetts. A 21-year-old man from Brockton was killed after losing control of his bike and crashing into a guardrail, another 21-year-old man was killed after being hit by a Honda Accord, and yet another motorcyclist died in a multi-car crash. With warmer weather on the horizon, many riders will take to the roads, creating more opportunities for collisions. With little protection on a motorcycle, riders are more vulnerable than most vehicle passengers in the event of a collision. Motorcycle Accident Rates on the Rise, read more below to form your opinion.
The National Motorcycle Institute (NMI) estimates that, on average, 4,119 motorcycle drivers are killed in collisions, compared with 15,688 passenger vehicle fatalities. In Massachusetts, 43 motorcyclists were killed in 2014, and an average of 44 Massachusetts cyclists are killed per year, compared with 171 passenger vehicle drivers. NMI found that mile for mile, driving a motorcycle is 27 times more dangerous than driving a passenger car, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts that number closer to 30 percent. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) also found that motorcyclist injuries and fatalities increased when unusually warm weather extended riding season beyond the normal spring and summer months, and dedicates an entire section of its 2012 data report analyzing state weather and its impact on fatality rates throughout the year. GHSA also noted that Massachusetts saw an increase of roughly 17,000 registered motorcycles in 2012, putting even more riders on the road.
Preventing Motorcyclist Injuries and Fatalities
GHSA estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist driver deaths in collisions and 41 percent effective for passengers. NHTSA reported that 706 motorcyclists killed in accidents in 2010 would have lived if they had been wearing helmets. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that while helmet use does not affect the risk of a crash, failing to wear a helmet does increase fatalities. The GAO also stated that laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only proven strategy to reduce motorcyclist deaths. Only 19 states have helmet law requirements, including Massachusetts, which requires that all motorcycle drivers and passengers wear helmets that meet the current U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. If the helmet does not have a shield, riders must also wear eyeglasses, goggles, or a protective face shield.
Reducing Drunk Driving
GHSA research shows that 29 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes had BAC levels above the legal limit of .08. Educating riders and enforcing penalties may reduce impaired driving and reduce motorcyclist fatalities.
35 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents were speeding, while only 23 percent of passenger car drivers and 19 percent of light truck drivers were killed in speed-related accidents. Almost half of these accidents did not involve other vehicles, suggesting that motorcyclists simply lost control of their vehicles, likely due to speed.
Improving Licensing and Training
22 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents did not have valid licenses. Enforcing licensing requirements will encourage riders pursue valid licenses as well as engage in ongoing training, as most license tests encourage riders to complete training courses. Most states offer beginning, intermediate, and advanced training courses for new riders as well as experienced riders who wish to continue their education in safe riding practices.
Need More Information?
Even if you ride as safely as possible, you may still be in an accident due to another driver’s negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether you may be eligible for compensation. Call New Bedford attorney Paul Santos at 508-996-0941 or contact me online for a free initial consultation to review your case.