Fatal Trends with Motorcycle Accidents
Have you noticed a fatal trend in the local news lately?
- September 6, 2017—“A motorcyclist was killed in a crash with an SUV…Wednesday morning.” http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/article171474352.html#storylink=cpy
- September 5, 2017—”Expect slowdowns in the Tacoma area Tuesday afternoon due to a fatal motorcycle crash.” http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article95200407.html#1
- August 31, 2017—“A male motorcyclist was killed…in a multi-vehicle collision on eastbound state route 512, near Parkland.” http://komonews.com/news/local/1-dead-in-multi-vehicle-crash-on-sr-512-in-parkland
- August 25, 2017—“A 28-year-old Tacoma man was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed on Interstate 5 in Tacoma on Friday evening.” http://komonews.com/news/local/tacoma-man-killed-in-motorcycle-crash-on-i-5
A Motorcycle Accident is Simply More Dangerous
The sensation and freedom of riding a motorcycle defies words, while the vulnerability and hazardous conditions for motorcyclists scream from the headlines!
Since motorcycles are a two-wheeled vehicle, they are, understandably, more unstable that any vehicle with four wheels. Driving a motorcycle takes full-bodied effort, navigating the obstacles and fast-moving traffic, all while ensuring the bike doesn’t lose it’s center of gravity. It takes lots of practice and experience before one becomes an instinctive rider.
It’s vital that anyone riding a motorcycle is aware of the local traffic laws and regulations. It could be the difference between life and death. Being a responsible motorcycle rider starts with having the proper licensing, education, protective gear–like a safety helmet, and experience in safeguarding against potential dangers. Learn more by reading How to Ride a Motorcyle Safetly on the Road.
Motorcycles are naturally less stable and less visible than the average car or truck on the road; combine that with many high performance capabilities, and you could have a recipe for disaster! When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the seatbelts, airbags, or a protective metal frame to shield their bodies from cement, metal, and the forces of nature. So, riders are more likely to be injured or killed in an accident. The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2014, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 27 times the number in cars.
A 2011 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis showed that there were over 8.4 million motorcycles registered in the United States, making up 3% of all vehicles on the road. Motorcyclists are a small percentage of all the motorists on the road, yet they over-represent in fatalities on the roadways. In 2015, a total of 4,693 motorcyclists died in crashes. While motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s, they began to increase again in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2015 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles
Unfortunately, dozens of stories, like the ones that have occurred recently between Tacoma and Boise, are being reported more and more often. https://rideapart.com/articles/what-the-latest-nhtsa-fatality-statistics-reveal-about-motorcycle-safety
Top Safety Factors to Limit Personal Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident
Because serious head injury is the most prevalent injury among fatally injured motorcyclists, frank discussions on helmet safety are important. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Yet only 19 states in the country mandate helmet-use by all riders.
In 2013, the NHTSA estimated that 1,630 motorcyclists involved in crashes lived because they were wearing helmets. The study also noted that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 715 lives could have been saved. Bottom line–helmets save lives.
If you have any questions regarding if your helmet will provide the best protection for you, consult the Washington State Patrol’s website to learn more about safety standards and guidelines.
The Law Factor
Laws ensure the safety of everyone. No driver is exempt from the responsibility and preparation of driving safely. A common driver’s course does not prepare someone to operate a motorcycle. Additional classes and cues from coaches are necessary before taking a motorcycle to the road. Regardless of vehicle of operation–laws for distracted, impaired, and dangerous speed still apply to every driver.
- Licensing Issues
Twenty-five percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2013 were riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the collisions.
- Impaired Riding
In 2013, there were 4,399 motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,232 (28%) were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 or higher).
In 2013, 34 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
A common link in most motorcycle fatalities is that they probably could have been avoided…by slowing down. At the end of August, the Washington State Patrol stated that this is the fourth motorcycle fatality collision investigated by troopers in the southern Puget Sound region in which high speeds were directly involved. Most of the riders in the shared news stories were wearing helmets and protective clothing, but neither could withstand the treacherous effects of speeding. Yes–speed compromises safety.
The X Factor for Motorcycle Accidents
It’s important to note that not all motorcycle accidents are the result of error or faulty actions of the motorcycle rider. A large number are often the fault of other driver and beyond the control of the motorcyclist. Headlines and news stories should be a wake-up call for all of us, that we are all vulnerable on the road. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Not only should we be looking out for ourselves, but must keep a constant eye out for all the vehicles around us.
- Always use caution! No traveling in Blind Spots. Slow down or go around, but don’t shadow other vehicles.
- Wear a helmet–always!
- Wear the appropriate safety gear so others can see you.
- Obey the Speed Limits and all traffic signs
- And if you’re unsure about a situation–avoid it.
- Share the road. Motorcycles have the same laws and limits to drive by as cars/trucks.
- Give them space–don’t follow too close.
- Before changing lanes–check your blind spots and check again!
- Always signal to indicate turns.
- Do NOT speed. Everyone is safer when we obey the rules of the road.
If the crash was due to the negligence of another motorist, then you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries and damages.
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