Study: While Overall Motor Vehicle Collisions Have Dropped, Motorcycle Accidents Continue Apace

There’s no argument that riding a motorcycle places a person in one of the highest risk group among the motoring public, not only due to the frequency of accidents involving bikes, but also the greater likelihood of being injured or killed when compared to similar accidents involving passenger car drivers. This may sound harsh, but motorcycle riders as a group have never been ones to follow the crowd, which explains why this intrepid bunch, despite the ever-present dangers, continues to enjoy their chosen sport.

As a mode of transportation, bikes don’t offer the same level of comfort that even the most basic automobile has. Weather, noise, physical proximity of much larger vehicles all contribute to the array of physical inputs with which a motorcycle rider must deal on a daily basis. It’s no surprise that most riders are, if not immune, certainly inured against the constant onslaught of sensory inputs and perceived dangers. To put it mildly, most motorcycle riders are hardy folks with a passion for their machines.

Getting back to the issue at hand, though, it would seem that bikers have not been enjoying the positive effects of the apparent reduction in traffic accidents over the past year or so. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we are aware of the reasons for most accidents and even though two-wheeled motor vehicles share only a few similarities with their four-wheeled counterparts, one could only hope that any positive effects from a safer traffic environment would be passed on to the motorcycling community as well.

Whether it’s a reduction in car accidents, a drop in the number of trucking-related crashes, or a shift in the frequency or severity of all roadway collisions, according to news articles, bikers face the same or even worse odds now than they have in the past. Granted, this could be the result of economic-related conditions that have perhaps forced some car drivers to park the family sedan and start using a motorcycle or scooter to commute to work, school or to the shopping mall.

Based on a report from the Washington Post, as overall traffic deaths have continued to decline, the number of motorcycle-related fatalities simply have not keep pace with those improvements felt in the four-wheeler world. An annual report released several months ago by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) indicates that there has been no significant reduction in the number of bikers killed in motorcycle-related traffic accidents. And as traffic safety experts have welcomed the reported decline in overall motor vehicle fatalities across the United States over the past several years, the total amount of motorcycle-involved traffic fatalities stayed more or less even from 2010 to 2011.

Disappointing is hardly the word, since motorcycle riders are more exposed and face far greater and potentially more severe bodily harm as a result of a traffic wreck than any occupant of a car, truck or city bus. For those wondering why bikers couldn’t share in the improved numbers, it may be instructive to consider that occupants of passenger cars and light trucks have benefited in large part thanks to the constant improvements to safety-related systems in these vehicles. Motorcycles, on the other hand, have remained more or less unchanged for decades, at least from a driver/passenger protection standpoint.

The GHSA attributes some of the improvement in these figures to safety features like air bags, increased safety belt use, and the vehicle stability systems, which have gradually made our cars and trucks safer when traveling down the interstate. These items are virtually unknown in the motorcycle world, but even so the GHSA suggests that some of the blame for the lack of decline in a number of serious factors. These include helmet use or lack thereof, alcohol consumption and speeding.

According to news articles, the GHSA report also points to 2010 data, which showed that almost 30 percent of riders who died in motorcycle crashes were drunk at the time of the accident. When it came to speed as a factor, 35 percent of riders killed in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the collision. It makes one ask the question, “Where are we headed?” Hopefully, the trend will reverse itself, but until then we advise extra amounts of caution to those riders who hit the road this fall.

As crash deaths continue to decline the number of motorcycle fatalities have not,, May 21, 2011

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