Summer vacations and warm weather are here, which means one thing: Motorcycle season. For many, motorcycles are an escape, a symbol of freedom and excitement. While responsible motorcycle riding is fun, there is an unfortunate and shocking truth about motorcycle accidents we need to address.
It is no secret that motorcycles are intrinsically more dangerous than cars, but even experienced motorcyclists may not realize the scope of the problem. In the United States, motorcycles make up less than 4% of all registered vehicles (less than 1-in-25). Unfortunately, motorcycles are also involved in about 10% of the country’s car crashes and 15% of motor vehicle fatalities (1-in-8).
It’s estimated that the average motorcyclist is about 25x more likely to be in a crash than the average car driver. This is even worse for newly licensed motorcycle riders who are 4x more likely to be in a crash than an experienced rider. It is nearly 100x riskier for novice riders to earn a motorcycle license than it is to get a standard driver’s license.
Experience and Recklessness
Although newly licensed riders are more likely to be in a crash than the average rider, one type of motorcylist is far more likely to be in a crash than others. Men over 40 account for more than half (55%) of all motorcycle crashes and motorcycle fatalities in the United States. While men under age 25 are also at high risk, that group accounts for about 27% of all crashes.
Older motorcycle riders are much more likely to be in a crash, but the data shows that the types of crashes they are involved in and the kinds of injuries they experience are largely preventable. That’s because, in 25% of motorcycle crashes and 33% of motorcycle fatalities, the motorcyclist was driving under the influence.
Not only that, but the majority of these older motorcyclists are not wearing their helmets. Despite that helmets reduce the risk of a fatality by 40% and reduce the risk of a head injury by 70%, an increasing number of experienced motorcycle riders are choosing to ride without helmets. In states without a helmet law, just over half of all motorcyclists wear life-saving head protection.
The current state of annual motorcycle crashes should be a wake-up call to anyone with their own bike. Motorcycles lack a lot of safety features that car drivers take for granted. Without seatbelts, airbags, a crumple zone, or anything else to protect riders from the force of impact, motorcyclists are left to their own devices to reduce injuries in a potential crash.
Remember, a crash can happen at any time. In most cases, motorcycle riders in a crash will be launched from their vehicle. While these kinds of crashes almost always cause serious injuries, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself.
First, wear your helmet. While motorcycle helmets are required in Virginia and Maryland, a number of riders ignore traffic codes and put themselves at much higher risk of any crash being fatal.
Second, dress for the slide, not the ride. There is a great variety of specialized motorcycle equipment available that is specifically designed to reduce injuries in a crash. Armored boots, for example, reduce the risk of an open foot or ankle injury by 90%. Likewise, kevlar pants and a padded motorcycle jacket can significantly decrease the risk of road rash and lacerations.
Finally, if you are seriously injured in a motorcycle crash through no fault of your own, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can guide you through your case, handle the difficult phone calls and paperwork, and give you more time to focus on your recovery.
To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Virginia motorcycle accident attorney from Portner & Shure, P.A., don’t hesitate to call (855) 954-4141 or send us an email.