Motorcycle enthusiasts love the freedom they feel as they zip along on the highway. Motorcyclists love the feeling of the wind in their faces and of being outside in nature. However, though thousands of Americans throw their legs over their bikes every day to go to work, run errands, or simply go for a ride, thousands die in accidents each year.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4,976 motorcyclists were killed in accidents in 2016. Though the number of motorcycle deaths had dropped starting in the 1980s, they began creeping back up in the 1990s. In 2016, motorcycle accident fatalities made up 13 percent of all accident fatalities in 2016. This percentage was more than double the number of deaths reported in 1997.
Interestingly, close to a third of motorcycle fatalities were drivers who were operating a motorcycle without a valid license. That same year, just 16 percent of fatally injured motorists did not have a valid license.
Forty percent of motorcyclist deaths were single-vehicle crashes in 2016. The remaining 60 percent involved multiple vehicles. This statistic has seen little change since the 1980s.
Whether motorcyclists should wear helmets is often debated. According to the CDC’s statistics, 61 percent of motorcyclists who were killed in 2016 wore helmets. Approximately 44 percent of fatally injured motorcycle passengers wore helmets. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has stated that helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities in motorcycle accidents and are about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.
Since motorcyclists are exposed while they are on the road, they are at risk of suffering much more serious injuries than drivers and passengers in motor vehicles. One statistic estimated that, per miles traveled in the year 2015, motorcycle deaths exceeded motor vehicle deaths by 29 times.
How can motorists and motorcyclists safely share the road?
Driving defensively and being aware of your surroundings are key to staying safe while driving, whether you are on a motorcycle or in a car.
For motorcyclists, make sure you have on protective gear that will protect your skin in case you have an accident. Leather pants, jackets, and boots will protect your skin from severe scrapes if you are thrown from your bike.
Additionally, though it can be tempting to zip around traffic, travel the speed limit and stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots. It is also wise to keep your lights on all the time.
Make sure you check your motorcycle before you ride—check your tire pressure, your lights and signals, and your fluid levels.
For motorists, always check blind spots, use turn signals, and approach intersections with caution. When turning left, take an extra second to make sure a motorcycle is not approaching from the opposite direction.
Though not exhaustive, these tips will help keep motorcyclists safe.
If you were injured, call Stein & Shulman, LLC
At Stein & Shulman, LLC, Our attorneys represent Chicago area motorcycle accident victims. Call 312.422.0500 today.