You are a motorcycle rider. You learn that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in an accident than passenger-vehicle motorists. You understand that in the event of an accident, a helmet can save your life. Do you a) wear a helmet or b) not wear a helmet?

Governments Can Educate and Mandate, But Only Individual Motorcyclists Can Ride More Safely

For nearly 45 years now, the U.S. Department of Transportation has recorded information on traffic crashes and fatalities in the United States. The data gathered through the department’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) helps officials who are exploring ways to reduce the tens of thousands of deaths each year. One of their priorities is motorcycle safety.

Higher Risk of Motorcycling

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in an accident, per a given stretch of miles driven, than someone in a car. Despite a recent spike in auto fatalities, in general, the number of passengers killed in auto accidents has dropped dramatically over the years. With just a few exceptions, though, motorcycle fatalities have been steadily increasing since the mid-1990s. Over the last 20 years, such deaths have increased by 144 percent.

In 2017, there were over 5,000 motorcycle fatalities–the highest in 35 years, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency recently published a Motorcycle Safety 5-Year Plan that outlines strategies to try to ameliorate the problem.

Colorado has not escaped the trend. Last year, Denver’s Channel 2 reported that although motorcycles constitute only 3 percent of the vehicles on state roads, motorcycle riders account for 20 percent of traffic fatalities. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that 125 motorcycle riders were killed in 2016, 17 percent more than in 2015, contributing to a nearly 59 percent increase in fatalities over the past five years. One likely culprit: riding without a protective helmet.

The 5-Year Plan

NHTSA’s plan is a comprehensive review of problems and opportunities.

This document is intended to serve as a plan for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration activities to address the safety of motorcyclists. Motorcycle safety is a complex and far-reaching topic, and to be successful NHTSA must work in conjunction with its partners and utilize data-driven approaches to reduce the risk to motorcyclists and all road users…

This strategic plan is intended to be a dynamic guide rather than a static statement… In the years ahead, NHTSA will revisit and adjust this approach in response to new information and emerging issues that affect the safety of motorcyclists.

Proposed solutions include funding new education programs and laying stress on the personal responsibility of the rider. Many motorcyclists need to be more safety-conscious.

In 2016:

  • A fourth of those killed while riding a motorcycle was under the influence of alcohol.
  • A third of those killed were speeding.
  • If all those killed while riding a motorcycle had been wearing a helmet, more than 800 lives might have been saved.

No official plan or report can substitute for the motorcyclist’s own efforts to ride as safely as possible. If you ride a motorbike, get a bike that you can handle, take safety courses before hitting the road, and wear a protective helmet and other protective gear. Doing so may save your life.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident in Colorado, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.

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