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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Motorcyclists Face Many Dangers On The Road

A deputy sheriff in St. Johns County, Florida was acting as a motor cycle escort for a group of motorcyclists riding in support of the charity Rides for Smiles, an organization that provides medical treatment for children. He had just stopped a motorist who failed to heed the directions of another deputy escort and, with lights and siren activated was attempting to catch up to the main group of motorcyclists; he never made it. Before he could catch up to the other group he was struck and severely injured by a motorist entering the roadway.

Motorcyclists face a lot of safety issues on the road. While collisions with other vehicles are a major issue, motorcyclists contribute to their own problems as well. Let's look at how bad the problems are.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 2009 Motorcycle Traffic Safety Facts:

  • 4,462 motorcyclists were killed in 2009
  • Per registered vehicle, the fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2009 was 6 times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants.
  • Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 25 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash.

The states with the highest death rate for motorcyclists are:

Florida comes in second despite the fact that it is the fourth largest state in population. Texas, which leads the nation in motorcycle deaths is the second most populous state.

Problems with other motorists:

  • 48% of all motorcycles involved in fatal crashes collided with another type of motor vehicle.
  • In two-vehicle crashes, 78 percent of the motorcycles involved were struck in the front. Only 7 percent were struck in the rear.
  • In 40 percent of these crashes the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight passing, or overtaking another vehicle.

Motorcycles are sometimes hard to see. In most collisions involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle often said "I never saw the motorcycle." Often it's not the fact that the driver of the car didn't see the motorcycle but rather the fact that they didn't anticipate a motorcycle's presence and failed to look for it. As the bumper sticker says, drivers need to "look twice for motorcycles." When turning left or crossing an intersection, drivers should look to the left for oncoming traffic, then to the right, then once again to the left just in case a small, hard to see motorcycle is approaching. Remember that their small size may make them appear to be farther away than they actually are.

Drivers should also remember that a motorcycle should be given the same respect and space that would be given to another car or truck. Never try to pass a motorcycle in the same lane. Motorcycles are light and can stop much more quickly than a car can so, when following a motorcycle, allow a greater following distance of four seconds behind the motorcycle.

Problems caused by motorcyclists:

  • In 2009, 35 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 23 percent for passenger car drivers.
  • From 2000 to 2009, motorcyclist fatalities increased by 54 percent
  • The fatality rate for the age 40 and older group increased from 41% of motorcyclists killed in 2000, to 54% of motorcyclists killed in 2009. Within this motorcyclist age group fatalities increased by 106 percent over a 10-year period.
  • In 2009, a higher percentage of motorcycle riders in fatal crashes had BAC levels of .08 g/dL or higher than any other type of driver.
  • Forty-two percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2009 had BAC levels of .08 g/dL or higher.
  • Reported helmet use rates for fatally injured motorcyclists in 2009 were 57 percent for riders and 43 percent for passengers, compared with 59 percent and 49 percent, respectively, in 2008.
  • NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,483 motorcyclists in 2009. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 732 lives could have been saved.
  • For every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.

Motorcyclists can't blame all of their troubles on other drivers. Speeding, not wearing a helmet, and alcohol use are all the fault of the motorcyclist. The problem among riders over the age of 40 can be attributed to the fact that a lot of baby boomers, who can now afford that dream bike they always wanted as a youngster, are hitting the road without taking the time to get the proper training. Before hitting the road, motorcyclists should take the time to attend a training course sponsored by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The lessons learned could save your life.

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