motorcycle safety

In theory – and by law – motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle driver on the roadway but the reality is that motorcyclists bear more accidents and injuries than other motor vehicle drivers. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month; drivers of all other vehicles and all road users are reminded to safely “share the road” with motorcyclists and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Motorcycles made up only three percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2012 and accounted for only 0.7 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. Per vehicle mile traveled in 2012, however, motorcyclists were 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in motor vehicle accidents and five times more likely to be injured.

During 2012, 93,000 motorcyclists were injured, a 15 percent increase from the 81,000 injured in 2011.

In 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes which was an increase of seven percent over the 4,630 motorcyclists killed in 2011. Of the 4,957 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes, 93 percent (4,625) were riders and seven percent (332) were passengers.

In 2012, motorcyclists represented 15 percent of all traffic fatalities; 18 percent of all occupant (driver and passenger) fatalities and four percent of all passengers injured in motor vehicle accidents.

Use of Department Of Transportation-compliant helmets held steady at 60 percent in 2013, unchanged from 2012. Motorcycle helmets do not interfere with the rider’s vision or hearing and should be worn at all times.

The National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety

The goal of the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety is to enhance and improve motorcycle safety by working to clarify the most important issues relevant to improving motorcycle safety. This is not an easy task as a lack of funding devoted to research studies of motorcycle safety has created a shortage of information about why so many motorcyclists are getting into accidents.

The motorcycling community has invested considerable time and effort into improving its safety record through initiatives such as increased skills training, licensing campaigns, incremental technological advances, rider behavior and personal protective equipment. This does not change the fact that motorcycles continue to offer no significant protection to their users in a crash and requires the driver to be alert to even keep the motorcycle upright.

Although motorcycle rider training programs have been widely implemented to help reduce the rate of motorcycle accidents, they are still underutilized and often lack support from the larger traffic safety community. A broader educational approach, which provides motorcyclists with practical information outside of a formal training setting, is also beneficial to both new and experienced riders.

Those outside the motorcycling community also have a huge role to play in motorcycle safety. The overall traffic safety community, highway engineers, law enforcement, the medical community, vehicle engineers, government agencies, researchers working in safety, insurers and all road users are all capable of helping to reduce motorcycle accidents and subsequent injuries and deaths. The motorcycling community must work hard to reach drivers outside of its community by creating awareness over the issues and risks facing motorcyclists.

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