Motorcycle safety has been a subject of debate since motorcycles appeared on the road in the 1900s. Since then, safety trends have coincided with rising and falling injury and death statistics. The most recent reports show that, while the national number of motorcycle-related deaths has decreased in the last few years, Pennsylvania’s number of fatalities has been on the rise. This can be attributed to many factors, the most obvious of which is riding without a helmet.
Washington D.C.’s Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that nationwide motorcycle fatalities decreased 1.8 percent in 2014. Yet the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that fatalities in PA have risen during that same period. After an initial decrease in 2012, the amount of motorcycle fatalities in PA increased from 181 in 2013 to 186 in 2014.
A Closer Look
When comparing motorcycle safety measures with those of passenger vehicles, the GHSA uncovered data suggesting that the advancement of motorcycle safety precautions has stalled in the last fifteen years. While passenger car fatalities have decreased 30 percent from 1997 to 2013, motorcycle fatalities have increased 122 percent. In fact, motorcycles are now responsible for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, up from an original five percent.
Causes of Motorcycle Fatalities
Many factors can contribute to motorcycle accidents, however, the most common causes include:
- Cars engaged in a left-hand turn. 42% of motorcycle/passenger vehicle collisions occur under these circumstances.
- Motorcycle lane splitting. This occurs when a motorcyclist decides to ride between cars in separate lanes (such as in traffic jams), causing little room for safe maneuvering and recovery.
- Road hazards. Potholes, weather conditions, animals, and uneven lanes are especially dangerous to motorcycles because of their small size and lack of enclosure.
In 1967, the federal government enacted the universal helmet law. This law requires anyone riding a motorcycle to wear a helmet at all times. However, by the mid 1970’s, the universal helmet law had relaxed substantially. Some states, including Pennsylvania, reduced the requirement to include only certain motorcyclists in specific situations. Today, only 19 states and the District of Columbia require all riders to wear helmets. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) advocates for the full return of the law nationwide, stating:
- The U.S. could save over a billion dollars annually if everyone was required to wear a helmet.
- Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37 percent.
- Helmets reduce the risk of cranial injury by 69 percent.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
- Make yourself as visible as possible by wearing bright, reflective clothing, and a brightly colored helmet. Keep headlights on at all times.
- Ride defensively and never assume everyone can see you.
- Be extra cautious of vehicles making left turns into traffic.
- Be cautious of curves, especially in difficult weather conditions and high traffic areas.
- Be aware of hazardous road conditions that may affect your traction.
Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. – PA’s Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Motorcyclists are often stereotyped as reckless. This unfair bias can create a complicated legal situation if you are involved in an accident. If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, we can help. Attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys and his legal team can help determine your rights and options. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, damage to your motorcycle, and lost wages. We understand the complexities of motorcycle cases. With an open mind and extensive knowledge of personal injury law, we can help determine your best course of action. We will fight to protect your rights and receive you the compensation you deserve. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. today.