Why Motorcycles Are So Dangerous
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes an annual report of accident statistics and recently updated its report on 2015 motorcycle statistics. According to its 2015 motorcycle fact sheet:
- 14% of all traffic fatality victims were motorcyclists (despite the fact that motorcycles were only 3% of registered vehicles). Why were motorcycles so disproportionately lethal? First, motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles, and the laws of physics dictate that a smaller object colliding with a larger object will sustain more of the force of impact. Therefore, when a motorcycle and a car are involved in an accident, the motorcycle will be disproportionately damaged, and its rider disproportionately injured. Second, motorcyclists have an increased risk of being thrown from their vehicle during a collision. This second collision can be even more dangerous than the first.
- 27% of motorcycle riders involved in fatalities did not hold a valid motorcycle license at the time of the crash. (This is nearly twice the rate of passenger vehicles, which was only 13%). Motorcycle driving requires a specific skill set that is not directly transferable from operating a car or truck. Some riders are overly-confident about their riding abilities, which can lead them to drive too quickly, or get into situations in which they cannot control their bike. This is especially common among “returning riders” (someone who rode in their teens or early twenties, then takes it up again in their forties, fifties, or sixties). If you are a returning rider, it is important to remember that motorcycles change, and skills get rusty. Take courses to refresh your skills. Drive with particular caution until you have spent time with your bike and become comfortable with it.
- 33% of the U.S. motorcycle fatalities in 2014 involved speeding.
- Motorcycle fatalities are higher on the weekends than during weekdays. Among other reasons, this is due to increased traffic on weekends. Increased traffic leads to an increase in accidents. Use particular caution whenever you are driving in heavy traffic.
The Centers for Disease Control is also concerned with the public health risk of motorcycle safety. According to its motorcycle safety publications:
- The age of motorcycle fatality victims is increasing. In 1990, only 25% of motorcycle fatality victims were aged 40 or older. By 2010, it was over 50%. This demonstrates that it is not just “young and reckless” riders who cause motorcycle accidents.
- Universal motorcycle helmet laws are the only measure that has been scientifically proven to reduce motorcycle fatalities. States with “partial” helmet laws (those which restrict helmet use based on age, passengers, insurance or license) still experience low compliance with helmet use.
A recent report also had Florida leading the nation in motorcycle fatalities in 2015. This puts a special responsibility on Florida riders to learn motorcycle safety and practice it on the road.
How Can Motorcyclists Stay Safe?
- Watch your speed. The best way to avoid a collision is to allow enough stopping distance for you to safely respond to obstacles in the road.
- Always wear a helmet – even if you are in a state which does not legally require helmet use. NHTSA estimates that, for every one hundred motorcyclists killed while not wearing a helmet, thirty-seven of them could have been saved by wearing a helmet. It's also worth noting that both Texas and Arkansas experienced increases in motorcycle fatalities when helmet laws were repealed.
- Wear protective gear, such as goggles or a face shield, gloves, and supportive footwear. Ensure that jackets and/or pants are not so baggy as to get caught in the motorcycle or interfere with your control of the bike.
- Exercise particular caution at night, in inclement weather, and any other time visibility is decreased. Motorcycles are harder for other drivers to see, making it difficult for other vehicles to avoid colliding with motorcycles.
- Proper signaling will also reduce the risk of collision, as it helps other drivers anticipate your movements.
- If your road trip is bringing you to an unfamiliar area, be sure to review your route ahead of time. Distraction by a mobile phone or navigation system increases your chances of collision.
- If you are a motorcycle passenger, make sure that your driver has a proper motorcycle operator's license. All motorcycle drivers should have proper licensure and experience before entering public roadways. The Florida requirements are available through the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website.
- Education doesn't stop when you get a motorcycle operator's license! Continue riding and take refresher courses to keep your skills sharp.
- Carefully consider available features before purchasing a motorcycle. Consumer Reports makes a special note about engine size: a larger engine is more powerful, and can thus be more dangerous. Make sure you are safe and comfortable with your chosen engine size. (Also noteworthy: the CDC found that the majority of motorcycle fatalities occurred on sport motorcycles with mid-size engines designed to maximize speed and agility.)
- Similarly, anti-lock brake features are now available for many bikes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that bikes with ABS are 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without ABS.
Never drink and drive.
Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings
It has been noted that 40 percent of all motorcycle accidents2 occur when another driver is making a left-hand turn. This is mainly because the other driver likely did not even see the motorcycle rider, as motorcyclists are inherently harder to spot than larger passenger vehicles. While attentiveness is the job of all drivers on the road, given the reality that motorcycle riders are less likely to be seen, it behooves all motorcycle riders to be doubly attentive to ensure their own safety.
Always Wear a Helmet and Other Protective Gear
It seems cliché to say, but it is true that wearing a helmet will reduce the severity of all head injuries and reduce the likelihood of death of the rider. In addition, wearing heavy clothes will protect you from flying debris and ensure that you will not get even something as simple as wind chaffing. Goggles will help ensure that you do not get anything in your eyes, not so much as even a bug. It is also important to wear bright colors in order to increase your visibility to other motorists.
Avoid Hazardous Conditions
Whether it is construction zones or bad weather, such as fog, strong winds or thick thunderstorms, hazardous conditions can be too much for even the most experienced motorcycle drivers. Be gentle on the brakes and anticipate turns by slowing down to the point that your reduced speed is not a danger in and of itself.
Contact the Clearwater Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Today
Accidents can happen, regardless of whether you are a brand new motorcycle rider or someone who was raised around motorcycles and have been driving them for the past 50 years. If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, you should speak with the motorcycle accident attorneys at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience in representing victims of motorcycle accidents and will work tirelessly until you are compensated to the fullest extent of the law. We offer free initial consultations. Call us today at 727-451-6900 or contact us online.Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765