Motorcycle safety is of utmost importance, particularly in the summer months when motorcyclists are on the road in greater numbers. Accordingly, as part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a consumer advisory brochure reminding motorists to share the road with motorcyclists in order to reduce the number of annual highway fatalities.
NHTSA statistics show an increase in motorcycle fatalities in recent years, with 4,927 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2012 – a continued increase from 2011 when the number was 4,630. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 15 percent of the total highway fatalities that year, despite the fact that motorcycle registrations represented only 3 percent of all vehicles in the United States in 2012. Injured motorcyclists also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012 and, on a per vehicle mile basis, motorcyclists are more than 26 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of cars, and five times more likely to be injured.
The NHTSA also reports that helmet use by motorcyclists is on the decline, dropping from 66 percent of motorcyclists wearing helmets in 2011 to only 60 percent in 2012, and that head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. According to the NHTSA, an estimated 1,699 lives were saved in 2012 because of proper helmet usage, but another 781 lives could have been saved if helmets had been worn. Although 19 states and the District of Columbia have a universal helmet law that requires helmets for all riders, Illinois does not have a helmet requirement.
“Wearing a helmet on every ride is an important way for a motorcyclist to stay safe, but we all play a part. It’s up to all motorists and motorcyclists to make our roads safer,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman in a press release. “All road users need to share the responsibility of keeping the roadways safe. By following road signs, obeying speed limits, and always staying focused on the road, deaths could be prevented.”
NHTSA offers the following motorcycle safety tips:
- Wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.
- Obey all traffic laws and be properly licensed.
- Never ride distracted or impaired.
- Use hand and turn signals at every lane change or turn.
- Wear brightly colored clothes and reflective tape to increase visibility.
- Ride in the middle of the lane where you will be more visible to drivers.
- Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.
Additionally, NHTSA reminds drivers to:
- Allow the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Check all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Always allow more follow distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
- Motorcycle signals are often non-canceling and could have been forgotten. Always ensure that the motorcycle is turning before proceeding.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s critical to hire a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible. The Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers at Ankin Law Office are dedicated to keeping roadways safe for motorcyclists and helping clients injured in a motorcycle accident obtain maximum money damages. Contact us today at (312) 600-0000 to schedule your free consultation to learn how we can help you recover money damages following a motorcycle accident.