Motorcycle Accident Fatality Rate Remains High

This year's Rolling Thunder event, which recognized the contribution of American veterans, drew approximately 100,000 motorcyclists to Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area. The presence of so many motorcycles on Maryland roads serves as a timely reminder that motorcycling is not as safe an activity as it could be. The discouraging news is that while traffic deaths overall are on the decline, deaths from motorcycle accidents remain steady. In the first nine months of last year, 3,580 people died in bike crashes, and 4,000 deaths for the year is projected.

The Governors Highway Safety Association has attributed the overall decline in highway deaths to safety improvements in automobiles and trucks, including stability advances and air bags, and to a better rate of seat belt use. Such improvements have no effect on motorcycles.

Improving Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycling can be safer if attention is paid to three factors that are likely to be behind the high fatality rate.

First, consistent helmet use could save many lives. According to the GHSA, properly worn helmets prevent 37 percent of fatal injuries to motorcyclists and 41 percent of motorcycle passengers. While Maryland has a law requiring helmet use for everyone on a motorcycle, 31 states do not. Some states had helmet laws and then repealed them, resulting in more deaths. For example, motorcycle fatalities went up by 81 percent in Florida after it repealed its helmet law.

Another factor contributing to motorcycle accidents is speed. Over one-third of the motorcyclists who were killed were speeding. Reducing speed to legal limits would do much to prevent biker fatalities.

A third major factor in motorcycle crashes is alcohol. In 2010, 28 percent of the people who died in motorcycle accidents were drunk.

Any motorcycle accident has the potential for deadly consequences. Anyone who has been injured in a motorcycle accident should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss potential compensation. A motorcycle accident victim is entitled to compensation for medical costs, loss of wages, and pain and suffering. Families of any motorcyclists who died because of the negligence of another can also be compensated for their tragic loss.