According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over 4 million motorcycles registered in the United States. Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation for young and old. Motorcycle popularity is due to its fuel efficiency, reasonable purchase price and social and recreational activities. However, the NHTSA also reports that motorcycles have a higher rate of fatality per unit of distance traveled as compared to cars. Understanding the dangers of operating and riding a motorcycle is the first step in motorcycle safety.
According to the U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2006, 13.10 cars out of 100,000 cars ended up in fatal car crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 72.34 per 100,000 registered motorcycles. In the United States, motorcycles risk of fatal crash is 35 times greater than a passenger car per vehicle mile traveled. Motorcycle deaths represent 5% of all highway fatalities each year, but motorcycles represent only 2% of all registered vehicles in the U.S.
The Hurt Report, published in 1981 with data collected in Los Angeles and surrounding areas found that:
- 75% of motorcycle accidents involve a motorcycle and a car.
- 66% of the multiple vehicle accidents were caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right of way.
- The remaining 25% of motorcycle accidents were attributed to driver error.
- Alcohol was a factor in nearly 50% of all accidents.
- Wearing appropriate safety equipment and gear, such as helmets and durable garments, reduced the crash injuries significantly.
The Motorcycle Accident in Depth Study (MAIDS report) looked at 921 powered two-wheeled accidents in 5 European countries over a 3 year period and found similar results. Data collected during that period found that wearing a helmet prevented or reduced the severity of the head injury of the rider. It also found that 69% of the other drivers involved in a crash did not attempt any avoidance maneuvers, which suggested that the other drivers did not see the motorcycle.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
So now that we now the dangers of motorcycles, how do we improve our safe use and operation of motorcycles? Here are some key motorcycle safety tips:
- Take a motorcycle safety driving course. Many states offer free classes for motorcycle operators. In Pennsylvania residents can take advantage of the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program. Riders that successfully complete the training program will be awarded a motorcycle license. For the location of a Rider Course nearest you, call toll free: (800) 446-9227.
- Purchase and ride a motorcycle that fits the driver’s ability operate the vehicle. The larger the vehicle the heavier and the driver must have the physical ability to push it and pick it up. The driver should be able to touch the ground with both feet when astride the vehicle. Purchasing the right motorcycle for you is critical to your motorcycle safety!
- Purchase the bike to fit its purpose. Some bikes have specific characteristics for on-road or off-road driving; such as tires, suspension, braking systems. Operating a motorcycle in an area or terrain for which it is not built, can reduce or limit its safe operation.
- Wear certified, protective helmets, eye protection and clothing.
- Do Not Drink and Drive. Approximately half of all fatal single-vehicle motorcycle crashes involved alcohol.
- If you will be carrying a passenger, make sure the motorcycle is equipped to carry passengers.
- Take special care when at intersections, where most vehicle and motorcycle accidents occur.
- Remain visible to drivers at all times. Don’t drive in the blind spot of a car. If you can’t see their rear windshield mirror, the driver can’t see you.
- Avoid driving in bad weather, if possible. Motorcyclists require greater care when driving in inclement weather.
- Use your headlights, day and night.
- Be a courteous driver. Don’t tailgate. Use your signals when appropriate. Don’t weave in and out of traffic.
- Practice Motorcycle Safety 100% of the time!
As with driving a car or a bicycle, the motorcyclists must know his vehicle; drive within his or her capability; maintain the vehicle operating systems; use protective equipment; be cognizant and respectful of other vehicles sharing the road; and, take advantage of safety training courses.
A motorcycle is inherently more dangerous to operate than a car. Motorcycles lack the safety features of a car or truck. A motorcyclist has almost no protection in a crash. Knowing the risks of motorcycles and using all available motorcycle safety knowledge, practices and equipment can mitigate the possibility of a motorcycle crash and can reduce injury and death when an accident occurs.
The attorneys at Freeburn & Hamilton, your personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm, want everyone to know the facts about motorcycle safety. If you or a loved one should be involved in a motorcycle accident, you can rest assured that Freeburn & Hamilton attorneys and professional staff are dedicated to providing you with excellent legal services so that you get the most compensation available to you under the law. Freeburn & Hamilton has been representing motorcycle accident victims since 1982.
For the convenience of our clients, Freeburn & Hamilton have 12 conveniently located offices throughout Central Pennsylvania. We can meet with you at any of the following locations: Harrisburg, Lebanon, Gettysburg, Carlisle, Camp Hill, Lewistown, Mifflintown, Huntingdon, and more. But if you can’t come to us, don’t worry! We can meet you at home or hospitalFreeburn & Hamilton Your Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Law Firm 2040 Linglestown Road, Suite 300 Harrisburg, PA 17110 Telephone Number: (717) 777-7777 Toll Free Number: 1-800-303-8005