Any type car accident, big or small, can be devastating. Whether it happens in our neighborhood, on our way to work or traveling on the interstate, those involved can be forever changed by a single crash. The number of traffic accidents and deaths continue to rise and safety officials see no sign of this decreasing. While the focus has mainly been on cars, there is a substantial increase in the number motorcycle fatalities. As drivers, (of both cars and motorcycles) we need to be aware of all motorists as too many individuals are losing their lives due to traffic accidents.
According to Consumer Reports, more than 5,000 people were killed riding motorcycles in 2015 on United States roads. This is a 10% increase from 2014 and these statistics show no sign of decreasing as 2016 has already been marked as one of the deadliest years for traffic fatalities. Motorcycle deaths haven’t been this high since 2008 and many safety officials are trying to determine the reasons.
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Many officials believe the “laxness” of state helmet laws contribute to the number of fatalities from riders. Additionally, the number of riders ages 20 – 29 and 50 – 59 have surged, therefore increasing the chance of an accident. Lastly, the increased number of riders who are riding while intoxicated or impaired has continued to add to this growing problem.
There are only 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, that require all riders to wear a helmet. 28 states require helmets be worn by some riders and 3 states don’t require helmets at all. According to a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 89% of riders wore helmets in the universal-law states and only 48% used helmets in the remaining areas. The study also states that wearing a helmet decreases a rider’s risk of being killed by 37%.
As a friendly reminder, Georgia has the following helmet law for motorcyclists (O.C.G.A. § 40-6-315(a)):
No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he or she is wearing protective headgear which complies with standards established by the commissioner of public safety.
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While wearing a helmet should be mandatory for all riders, the importance of riding responsibly should be considered a priority as well. Many new riders are fixated on horsepower and “living on the edge” with their new toy. Today’s motorcycles are powerful and the technology has changed immensely. If riders do not know how to properly operate a motorcycle, this increases their chances of injury and death exponentially. Unfortunately, fewer than half of motorcyclists today have completed formal safety training, which makes the rider that much more vulnerable on the road.
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As a country and a state, we need to be proactive in motorcycle safety. The statistics for both car and motorcycle fatalities are at an all time high and the only way to change this is through paying attention, being responsible and sharing the road with caution.
For more information about this article and motorcycle safety in Atlanta, contact Kaine Law.