At a time when gas prices are steadily increasing, commuting by motorcycle is a tempting notion. Increased motorcycle registrations (6,227,146 in 2005) reflect this rationale, but, tragically, high fatality and injuries statistics accompany this trend.
In 2007, 5,154 motorcyclists died in accidents. In 1997, there were 2,116 fatalities. In the last decade, fatalities have more than doubled. In just one year, from 2006 to 2007, there was a 7 percent increase in fatalities. Since the Highway Safety and National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 was enacted, approximately 142,000 motorcyclists have died.
In 2007, fifty percent of motorcycle fatalities resulted from collisions with another motor vehicle. The most common crashes involved a vehicle that turned left in front of a motorcycle which was travelling straight or passing the other vehicle. In about 78 percent of the fatal crashes, the motorcycle was hit on the front. A substantial number of fatal crashes occurred when both another vehicle and the motorcycle were travelling straight.
Motorcycles are more likely than passenger cars and light and large trucks to be in a single vehicle fatal crash with a fixed object. In 2007, 25 percent of motorcycle fatalities were from impact with fixed objects.
Caucasians suffered the majority (77%) of deaths, while African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans shared 17 percent of the fatalities.
Motorcycle crashes are two times as likely to happen on weekends versus weekdays. Ninety percent of the motorcyclists who died were operators and 10 percent were passengers.
Motorcycles with 501-1,000cc engines were involved in 41 percent of fatal accidents and 1,001 – 1,500cc size engines were involved in 38 percent. Of the motorcyclists killed in accidents riding 1,001 – 1,500cc motorcycles, two-thirds were over the age of 40.
Injuries sustained by motorcyclists have also been on the increase. In 2007, 103,000 motorcyclists suffered injuries, an increase of 15,000 from 2006.
The primary injury sustained in a motorcycle crash is a head injury. Studies have shown that wearing a motorcycle helmet, which meets the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, is the crucial factor in whether a motorcyclist survives a crash. In 2007, helmets saved the lives of 1,784 motorcyclists. Another study revealed helmets are 67 percent effective in head injury prevention.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration estimates 19,230 motorcyclists survived crashes from 1984 to 2006 because they wore a helmet. Another 12,320 people would have lived if they had been wearing a helmet. In 2007 alone, the NHTSA predicts 800 people would not have died if they had been using a helmet.
Currently, 20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have laws that make helmet use mandatory for motorcycle operators and passengers. Another 27 states have helmet laws with varying stipulations, such as a certain age, a specified period of driving experience time and medical insurance coverage for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. Three states have no laws whatsoever regarding helmet use.
If you, or a loved one, has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important you contact an attorney experienced with motorcycle crashes and traumatic personal injuries to receive legal advice and information regarding limitation times for filing a lawsuit.
Attorney Richard Hastings, for the past two and one half decades, has been helping injured clients and families collect millions of dollars in losses ranging from motor vehicle accidents to wrongful death, to medical malpractice. He is the founder of Selectcounsel, LLC, a free service that helps you find one of the best lawyers in your area and is the author of the books “How To Find A Great Lawyer” and “Understanding And Improving The Value Of Your Personal Injury Case.”