May Is Motorcycle Safety Month: What’s Your Plan?

The open road and warm air are beckoning Colorado motorcyclists.  Before you hop on your hog and gun up into the mountains, however, consider these critical safety tips to protect yourself from a horrendous early summer crash: 

  • Pay attention to other vehicles on the road — particularly when you drive on unfamiliar highways. Motorists should be mindful of motorcyclists, and vice versa.
  • Be visible! Wear reflective clothing and limit riding at dawn, dusk and during stormy weather;
  • Ride when sober and alert. Riders should avoid operating their vehicles if fatigued or while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, prescription medications.
  • Wear a helmet. The first rule of motorcycle safety – which even non-motorcyclists can recite – is “wear a helmet.” Studies show that helmet-wearing protects bikers from brain damage, concussions, broken necks and death. To this end, helmet laws are almost ubiquitous. Yet many surveys suggest that up to 50% of riders (or more in some areas) do not wear helmets with regularity. All it takes is one skid out or missed turn to cause paralysis or death.

Good Reason to Take Extra Care:  Motorcycle Deaths are Increasing

  • In general, auto accident fatalities have trended downwards over the past 30 years. But motorcycle accident trends are headed in the opposite direction. A recent Department of Transportation report found that “motorcycle fatalities have been rising steadily since 1997, and [they] currently represent our nation’s greatest highway traffic safety challenge.”
  • In 2005, the NHTSA estimated that 14 people out of 100,000 (on average) lost their lives in auto accidents. By contrast, in 2005, 73 people out of 100,000 died in motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists, in other words, were 5+ times more likely to die in crashes.
  • All told, motorcycle fatalities account for over 10% of fatalities on U.S. roads.
  • This spike in fatalities has little to do with the increase in popularity of motorcycles. While motorcycle registrations did jump 62% from the late 90s to the late 2000s, the DOT notes that “fatalities have increased disproportionate to the rise in registrations and sales” – soaring from 2,100 deaths in 1997 to almost 5,000 deaths in 2006.
  • Per the DOT’s calculations, drunken driving plays a huge role in fatal crashes. Approximately 25% of fatal motorcycle crashes involve operators whose BAC levels later tested at 0.08% or above.
  • 45% of motorcyclists who die in crashes failed to wear helmets.
  • If you’re a male rider, watch out: 9 out of 10 motorcyclists killed are male.
  • Twice as many motorcycle fatalities occur over the weekend as occur during the work week. 

If you or loved suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident – or if a motorcycle hit you or your vehicle – you need clear, strategic insight into your potential liability case. Connect with our legal team today for a free consultation.

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