Motorcycle Accidents

Stats We Can Live By

MOTORCYCLE STATS & ACCIDENT INFO

Motorcycle Helmet and their Effectiveness

"Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists." "NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,316 motorcyclists in 2004. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 671 lives could have been saved." All motorcycle helmets sold in the US must meet rigorous performance standards set by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. In 2004, there were 285 fatal motorcycle accidents in the state of Texas. Of those 58.5 percent (166 total) victims were not wearing a helmet.

Source: NHTSA

WEARING A HELMET

Unlike many states which require the use of motorcycle helmets for all cyclist, Texas excepts some riders from wearing a motorcycle helmet. The exception is as follows.

If the following is true, the motorcyclist is not required to wear a helmet in Texas.

If the motorcyclist is over 21 years of age and:

has successfully completed a motorcycle training and safety course as per Chapter 662 of the Texas Transportation Code,

OR

is covered by a health insurance plan providing at least $10,000 minimum in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of an accident while operating a motorcycle.

Source: Texas Department of Public Safety (effective September 1, 1997)

HELMETS SAVE LIVES

Wearing a helmet lowers a motorcycle rider's risk of fatal injury by 29 percent and reduces the risk of traumatic brain injury by 67 percent. Despite the documented effectiveness of helmets, many motorcyclists choose not to wear them, especially when state laws don't require helmet use.

Surveys show that in states without universal helmet laws, only 34 to 54 percent of motorcycle riders wear helmets. But in states where helmet use is mandatory for all riders, 98 percent of motorcyclists use this safety gear. Currently, less than half of the states require helmet use by riders of all ages.

ACCIDENTS, ACCIDENTS, ACCIDENTS

In 1997, more than 2,100 motorcyclists were killed, and another 54,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. More than 7,000 of those injured were riders between ages 15 and 20, and 36 percent of those who died were between ages 16 and 29. Ninety percent of the people who died were male; nearly all of them were operating the bike. Among females who died, 72 percent were passengers.

Per mile driven, motorcyclists are about 14 times more likely than persons in a car to die in a motor vehicle crash, and they're about 3 times more likely to be injured. While motorcycles make up less than 2 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists account for 6 percent of total traffic deaths.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), the nation's foremost advocacy organization for the rights and safety of street motorcyclists, was not surprised to hear that motorcycle fatalities reported for calendar year 2001 exceeded those reported for 2000. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a preliminary report yesterday indicating that motorcycle fatalities increased approximately 7% and motorcycle occupants injured increased approximately 2% in 2001.

REASONS FOR THE PREDICTED SPIKE IN MOTORCYCLE FATALITIES

First, the waiting period for rider training was upwards of a year through the late 1990s, with many states turning away as many riders as they trained. It is worse now, with new motorcycle sales having soared in the past few years (from some 300,000 new units sold in 1990 to 710,000 in 2000).

Second, states have backed down from their commitment to motorcycle safety by sharply cutting or totally eliminating rider training funds. Meanwhile, riders do more than their share, from paying extra fees on registration (thought to be "protected" and "earmarked" for rider training) to volunteering to teach Motorist Awareness of Motorcycles in drivers' education courses.

Third, NHTSA continues to promote "safer crashing" - that is, policies it hopes will reduce injury severity AFTER an accident has occurred. For example, the agency's draft Motorcycle Safety Improvement Program (McSIP), released in May 2001, was roundly criticized for its "injury reduction" approach to motorcycle safety, and its lack of attention to dangerous car drivers (responsible for the majority of multiple-vehicle crashes).

MOTORCYCLE INJURY IMPROVEMENTS

Although motorcycle accidents happen every day, we are seeing improvements. The rise of motorcycle safety organizations and advocacy groups seems to have had an impact on motorcycle accident statistics.

The injury rate, as measured by on-road motorcycle registrations, has decreased significantly, from 40.6 injuries per 10,000 new motorcycle registrations in 1994/1995 to 21.5 injuries per 10,000 registrations in 1999/2000. Rising awareness of motorcyclists' road rights and national success in motorcycle litigation have played a part in the decrease of motorcycle accidents and injuries.

According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are approximately 18 times more likely to die in an accident than passengers of an automobile. In addition, motorcycles accounted for 27% of the crashes with a fixed object, while passenger cars accounted for 17%. Large trucks, light trucks, and other types of vehicles accounted for the rest of these crashes.

MOTORCYCLE SAFETY INFORMATION & RESOURCES

Taking the necessary precautions and riding with awareness can save lives.

  • Helmets: View the latest statistics, on the other page revealing why wearing a helmet reduces your risk of serious injury and even death during a motorcycle accident.

  • The Statistics Do Not Lie: View the statistics on the other pages that the motorcycle helmet laws can save lives.

Safety & Advocacy Organizations: Learn more about the safety advocacy groups who are dedicated to motorcycle safety awareness.

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