According to the World Atlas, the number of registered motorcycles in the United States increased significantly from 2003 to 2013. In 2003, there were approximately 3.8 million motorbikes on the road; in 10 years, that number grew to 8.4 million. The number of motorcycles is minuscule compared with the number of four-wheeled vehicles, but when it comes to accidents, injuries, and fatalities, motorcyclists are at a greater risk than those in other vehicles.
Nearly 5000 Motorcyclists Were Killed in 2015 Costing Billions in Economic Impact
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently noted some startling statistics about motorcycles, which it defines as two- or three-wheeled vehicles including off-road bikes, mopeds, scooters, mini bikes, and pocket bikes. The research showed that in 2015, 4,976 motorcyclists were killed, an 8 percent increase from the year before. More stunning, however, were other findings, such as:
- There were 29 times as many fatalities among motorcyclists per mile traveled in 2015 as among people in cars.
- Alcohol played a significant role in fatal motorcycle accidents. Forty-two percent of motorcycle riders killed in a single-vehicle crash were alcohol-impaired. Those killed in nighttime accidents were three times as likely to be alcohol-impaired as those killed during daylight hours.
- When it came to fatal crashes, 27 percent of motorcycle riders were riding without a valid motorcycle license.
The impact of those deaths and injuries is economic as well as personal. According to CNN, injuries to motorcyclists cost $12 billion in 2010. That same report noted that although motorcyclists account for 6 percent of motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, they incur 12 percent of the costs of caring for those injured. That’s because head injuries are common among motorcycle accident victims, and the short- and long-term care for those injured runs into the billions of dollars annually.
Strict Helmet Laws Pay Off
Officials say there is one way of cutting down on those costs, yet only a handful of states have taken steps to fully protect motorcyclists.
A few months ago, NHTSA released a traffic safety fact sheet on the costs due to injuries and death and what could be saved if motorcycle helmets were mandatory everywhere, with no exemptions. Today, only 19 states require a helmet for anyone on a motorbike. Only riders 17 and younger are required to wear a helmet in Colorado. Yet studies showed that in 2015 if Colorado had a mandatory helmet law for everyone riding a motorcycle, more than $48 million would be saved, which includes loss of productivity, medical expenses, legal and court costs, emergency service costs, insurance costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. If you account for lost quality of life, in addition to economic costs, that figure jumps to a whopping $296 million in potential savings in Colorado alone.
The bottom line is that wearing a helmet saves not only money but, more importantly, lives. In 2015, officials say, helmets saved an estimated 1,772 people; however, another 740 lives could have been saved had motorcyclists or their passengers worn a helmet. While Colorado doesn’t require a helmet for the majority of riders, motorcyclists need to take notice and realize that using a helmet while riding a motorcycle could end up being what saves your life as well as your livelihood.