Monday, April 15, 2013

Concerns Over Increased Fatalities In Motorcycle Riders

concerns over increased fatalities in motorcycle riders New safety standards and laws have decreased the overall amount of fatal accidents occurring on America’s roads. While this is good news for most drivers on the road, this is not the case for motorcycle accidents. Although vehicle occupant fatalities have decreased, motorcycle rider deaths have actually increased in the same period. This gap between these statistics is alarming and has brought much needed speculation on what can be done to make motorcycle riders safer on the roads. Some states have implemented safety programs to address the issue and have been successful, but unfortunately not enough to keep the overall U.S. motorcycle fatality statistics from rising.

State Motorcycle Fatality Statistics

Over the last few years, some states have decreased their motorcycle fatalities. In twenty-three states there was a decrease in motorcycle fatalities in 2011 compared to 2010. These improvements are attributed to the implementation of helmet laws and increased education on motorcycle safety. However, the decrease in fatalities in these states did not counteract the larger increase in fatalities in 26 other states. The struggle with making motorcycle riding safer is that the manufacturers can do little to make the bikes themselves safer against fatalities. While four-wheel vehicles have continued to be improved for safety by adding air bags and many other safety features to protect their occupants, motorcycles do not have the same ability to improve on this level. The nature of the vehicle prohibits any protection between the rider and any object they impact with.

Elements That May Reduce Rider Fatalities

Since the motorcycles themselves cannot be altered drastically to reduce the likelihood of a fatality, it is up to the riders themselves to use preventive measures. Some of the most glaring issues that contribute to motorcycle fatalities are high speeds, alcohol consumption and lack of helmet usage. These three elements are all under the control of the motorcyclist and are the leading factors that are attributed to motorcycle fatalities.

 Riding safely, sober and within speed limits, is a step in the right direction. However, even a safe rider is still at risk of a fatality when they are riding without a helmet. The majority of motorcycle accidents are not due to motorcyclist’s error, yet regardless of the cause, any rider that is hit by another vehicle is extremely vulnerable without a helmet.

 For one reason or another, many motorcyclists still refuse to wear a helmet, even in states where they are mandated by law. There is no doubt that helmets reduce the risk of serious brain injury and death in riders. In 2008 alone, over 800 lives could have been saved if the riders were wearing helmets. Unfortunately many riders will not choose to wear a helmet for their own safety without a law demanding it. Lawmakers struggle to pass helmet laws, with many states having only laws for younger riders, or no helmet laws at all. It continues to be a controversial subject between those who ride and those who make the laws to protect their safety.

 The rise in fatalities of motorcyclists has been attributed to everything from increases in the number riders to weather. However, these arguments do not hold up when some states actually show a decrease in the amount of riders and the weather is constantly changing. The fact still remains that many of these fatalities can be prevented with the use of a helmet, regardless of how many riders are on the road. By riding safe and using a helmet, motorcyclists have in their control the  best ways to reduce these statistics. Thanks to Jonathan Rosenfeld of

Castelli Commentary

My friend Jonathan is a champion for safety as he sees it. I respect his opinion. However, in Ohio wearing a helmet after one year of licensed riding is not mandatory. Many groups have fought for this "right to choose."
The non-riding public is very prejudiced against against motorcyclists that do not wear helmets. There is even fostered a myth of no helmet no recovery. Here is a motorcycle video playlist I did regarding this and other issues.