As the warm weather approaches, motorcycles are returning to the roadways. Unfortunately, every year we see more and more serious injuries and deaths related to motorcycle collisions because drivers never saw the cyclist before pulling out in front of them or into the motorcyclist’s lane of travel.
Motorcycle riders are 27 times more likely to die in collisions than any other types of vehicle crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2015 alone there were 4,976 motorcycle related deaths, an increase of eight percent from the previous year. Motorcycle injuries also increased to an estimated 88,000 people that year.
The location of motorcycle fatalities is fairly evenly split between urban and rural areas. Most collisions occur at non-intersection locations during the daylight hours on non-interstate roadways. Fatal crashes historically involve collisions with motor vehicles that were turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking another vehicle. The motor vehicle driver simply failed to see the motorcycle before impact.
Motorcycle fatalities are not limited to the young cyclists. The 40-and-older age group made up 54 percent of the motorcyclists killed in 2015. Half of all motorcyclists were killed on the weekend versus weekday. Alcohol also plays a factor in motorcycle fatalities. Of the motorcycle riders killed in crashes in 2015, 27 percent of the cyclists were alcohol-impaired.
Despite the increasing number of states eliminating laws requiring helmets, statistics show that helmets do save lives. According to NHTSA, if all motorcyclists had worn helmets in 2015, an additional 740 lives could have been saved.
Motorcyclists, both new and advanced, should take safety courses to develop skills for risk assessment, hazard awareness and crash avoidance. Motorcyclists should make sure headlamps are on, always wear protective gear, and make themselves as visible as possible on the roadway. Cyclists should always drive defensively and anticipate that other drivers do not see them.
Drivers of motor vehicles are equally responsible for motorcycle safety. Always look twice before pulling out, turning and when changing lanes. Motorcycles equally share our roadways and we must all be vigilant in looking for them and driving safely to avoid collisions.