May is Motorcycle Safety Month across the nation. Unfortunately, even though motorcycles constitute just 3% of all registered vehicles and are responsible for just 0.7% of all the miles traveled in the United States, motorcycle drivers and passengers made up 14% of all fatalities in traffic in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. They made up 4% of all vehicle occupant injuries that year as well.
Nearly 5,000 motorcyclists died in vehicle crashes in 2015, both drivers and passengers. The same year, there were 88,000 injuries on motorcycles.
Almost 33% of riders in 2014 showed alcohol impairment. Over 30% of motorcycle accidents in 2015 involved speeding.
Helmets are key to motorcycle safety
The data is clear on one key safety point. A helmet is a motorcyclist’s friend, and the single most crucial piece of safety equipment for motorcyclists, both drivers and passengers.
Of total motorcycle fatalities in 2015, 1,922 drivers and passengers had no helmet on. That’s roughly 38% of total fatalities.
Drivers should be aware of the following facts when buying a helmet:
- The most protection is provided by a full-coverage helmet.
- The Department of Transportation (DOT) guarantees that the helmet incorporates legal safety standards. Helmets display a DOT sticker verifying these safety standards.
- Do not purchase a used helmet.
Re-entry motorcycle riders at greater risk of injury
One group needs to take special care to ensure they ride safely. That is “re-entry riders.” These are motorcyclists who began riding in their 20s and then re-entered in their late 40s to 60s. This group alone suffered 35% of total fatalities on motorcycles in 2015.
One issue is that traffic conditions have changed since re-entry riders were younger. There is more traffic nearly everywhere. Distracted driving was an issue that rarely existed 20 to 40 years ago, and is very prevalent now.
Bikes are more powerful now, and re-entry riders may not be used to them. In addition, the reaction time, strength, and resilience of re-entry riders may not be what it once was.
Re-entry riders are urged to reacquaint themselves with safety procedures and best practices on a bike.
Watch out for drivers of other vehicles
Cars, trucks, and vans make up the majority of vehicles on the road by far. They are larger than motorcycles and thus can cause significant injury or death in a crash. Motorcyclists, even with helmets, are not protected as much as drivers of other vehicles.
Second, in the event of a vehicle/motorcycle collision, it is often the fault of the other vehicle not respecting the motorcycle’s right of way, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The reasons? There are four:
- The size of motorcycles and the failure of other motorists to “read” the traffic for motorcycles often means they aren’t noticed in the same way as other vehicles.
- Vehicle drivers don’t anticipate moves like lane changes on the part of motorcycles.
- A vehicle driver’s vision may be obstructed by blind spots or other vehicles in the way.
- Vehicle drivers may be driving distractedly, either due to smartphone use or other sources.
It is imperative that motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers drive defensively to avoid accidents.
Experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Southern California
Motorcycle accidents result in fatalities, injuries, and damage to property every year in the Los Angeles area and around the country.
If you or a loved one has been killed or injured in a motorcycle accident, the Salamati Law Firm can help. We are experienced in motorcycle law and precedent. Payment will come from any final jury award or settlement amount. Call today for a complimentary consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Los Angeles.
Additional motorcycle safety resources:
- National Safety Council. Injury Facts: The Source for Safety Data. http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/injury-facts.aspx
- National Safety Council. Motorcycle Safety Is a Two-Way Street. http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/Motorcycle-Safety.aspx
- U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycle Safety Foundation. National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety, Table of Contents. https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/motorcycle/00-NHT-212-motorcycle/toc.html