According to a fact sheet released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.), in 2007, “motorcyclists were 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and 9 times more likely to be injured.” The following year, the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) reported that “motorcycle fatalities had been climbing for 11 years, reaching 5,312 in 2008, the highest level since the Department of Transportation began collecting data in 1975.”
These numbers plainly show that riding a motorcycle can be a dangerous, possibly fatal endeavor if not approached with a well informed and safety minded perspective. In viewing the data collected by organizations like the N.H.T.S.A. and I.I.I., one becomes aware of some of the major factors common among motorcycle accidents; namely, intoxication, speeding, and conspicuity.
Intoxication: It is no secret that operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is not only illegal but extremely ill-advised. The danger of driving while impaired only increases when one is driving a motorcycle. A report by the U.S Census Bureau says, in 2009, there were 4,593 country-wide motorcycle deaths, 1,314 of which involved riders who had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08%. That means that roughly 29 percent of all motorcycle accidents involved legally drunk riders.
Speeding: Speeding is also a major contributor to motorcycle accidents. And though speeding is often linked to the drunken driving statistics listed above, this is not always the case. In 2008, the I.I.I reports, 35 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents were driving in excess of the speed limit at the time. To bring this closer to home, the US Census Bureau reported that, of the 1,256 motorcycle deaths in Pennsylvania in 2009, 634 were speeding-related. Obeying the speed limit will save lives.
Conspicuity: Speeding and alcohol intoxication are issues of motorcyclists disobeying the law; on the other hand, many motorcycle accidents are caused by the motorcycle simply not being seen in traffic. An early 80s report concluded that “the most common motorcycle accident involves another vehicle causing the collision… because the car driver did not see the motorcycle.” This report, though dated, maintains its relevance when compared to a 2008 study by the N.H.T.S.A. that says, of the 2,387 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving motorcycles and other types of vehicles, 41 percent involved accidents in which motorists were unaware of the motorcycle’s presence. Use of special headlights and bright colored clothes can help to increase a driver’s conspicuity.
Whether you are new to motorcycles or have been riding for years, it is always important to observe proper motorcycle safety in order to preserve your own life and the lives of those around you. For more information on motorcycle safety and accident statistics, please see the other articles in the Car Accident Law Articles section, or visit the Motorcycle Accident Lawyer page on this website.
And most importantly, always wear a helmet.
And for even more insight into motorcycle law in PA and motorcycle accidents, read Stuart A. Carpey’s newest book, The Good, the Bad, and the Law: A Guide to Motorcycle Accidents in Pennsylvania. You can order it the Carpey Law website for FREE!