Motorcycle accident fatalities have been sharply increasing in recent years. After reaching a historical low of 2116 fatalities in 1997, the number of fatalities increased each year for over a decade, breaking 5,000 for the first time in 2007 and remaining at or near the 5,000 mark every year since.
Motorcycle accidents are especially dangerous for riders, who are 28 times more likely to die in a crash (per mile traveled) than occupants of other vehicles. There are many reasons motorcyclists are at greater risk for serious injuries and fatalities from a crash, these include:
- Less Protection for the Rider: Unlike occupants of motor vehicles, motorcyclists do not have a steel cage and a seatbelt to protect them during a collision. When a motorcycle collides with another vehicle or object, there is not much that separates the rider from the pavement or other hard surfaces.
- Less Braking Ability on Motorcycles: The braking system inside motorcycles is different from what is installed in automobiles. When a motorcyclist applies the brakes, it can cause the bike to spin out of control in some situations. Car brakes are much stronger, and when they are functioning properly, it is much easier to safely stop an automobile.
- Diminished Ability to Control a Motorcycle: A motorcycle is a two-wheel vehicle, and it is not as easy to steer and control as an automobile. For example, if a car runs over a pothole or bumps into another vehicle at a fairly low speed, the driver can usually safely recover control of the vehicle. This is not nearly as easy when you are riding a motorcycle.
What Causes Motorcycle Accident Fatalities?
There are a number of potential causes of motorcycle accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities, and approximately 75% of the time, it is due to some type of negligence on the part of a motor vehicle driver.
Some of the leading factors that contribute to fatal motorcycle accidents include:
- Speeding/Reckless Driving: Motorists and motorcyclists who drive recklessly and carelessly put themselves and others in greater danger on the roads. Excessive speeding, weaving back and forth between lanes, tailgating, and refusing to yield the right-of-way are just a few examples of reckless driving.
- Driving while Intoxicated: Despite decades of public relations campaigns, far too many people still make a horrible and often fateful decision to drive or ride after having too much to drink. Driving while intoxicated can put people into a reckless mindset, or it can have the opposite affect and cause people to get sleepy and have slower reaction times.
- Turning Accidents: One of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is the failure of other vehicle drivers to see motorcycles that enter their blind spots. This often results in accidents if the car tries to change lanes or make a turn while the motorcycle is riding beside them.
- Dangerous Road Conditions: As mentioned earlier, potholes, crumbling roads, debris, and other hazardous conditions are much more dangerous for motorcyclists as it is more difficult to steer the bike and regain control when it is knocked off kilter.
- Motorcycle Defects: Some motorcycle accidents can happen because of a defective motorcycle or motorcycle part. When this is the case, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor of the faulty product.
- Lack of Protective Gear: Although wearing a helmet, chest protection, or other protective gear may not prevent a motorcycle accident, wearing this protection can help prevent more serious injuries and potential fatalities in some cases.
Many experts believe that the sharp increase in motorcycle accident fatalities in recent years is due to two primary factors – distracted driving and more older riders. Distracted driving has been a growing problem, and it has gotten far worse since smartphones became mainstream. Today, it seems that many drivers cannot resist the temptation to send a text or another type of electronic message while behind the wheel. And according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article from 2017, distracted driving now plays a role in approximately 40% of all motorcycle accidents.
The other factor that plays a large role in motorcycle accident fatalities is the age of the rider. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 54% of motorcyclists killed in accidents in 2015 were 40 years of age or older, a 17% increase in deaths within this age group since 2006. Older riders make up a higher percentage of overall motorcyclists than in past years, and we all know that with age, our bodies become much more fragile. For this reason, it is very important for those in the 40+ age group to wear helmets and other protective gear while riding.
Motorcycle accidents can be very hazardous for riders, and when the accident is caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, those who are injured deserve to be compensated. As motorcycle enthusiasts ourselves, we at Peake and Fowler understand the challenges motorcyclists face staying safe on the road, and we are aggressive advocates for those who are injured in an accident through no fault of their own.
Call us today at 803-788-4370 to schedule a free consultation and case assessment. You may also message us through our online contact form or stop by our Columbia, SC office in person at your convenience.