Recently, Southeastern Georgia’s WTOC 11 carried an Associated Press (AP) report that motorcycle accident injury and motorcycle deaths have decreased by two percent during the first three quarters of 2010. Unfortunately, this may not mean that a downward trend will continue for any lasting safety improvement. Practicing as a Gwinnett County catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawyer, and having a platform to speak to the public about safety in the Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog, I want to go through the sobering statistics with our readers.
The statistics show that from January through September 2010, 80 fewer bike riders lost their lives in the same period in 2009. Unfortunately, the situation changed in the last three months of 2010 as fatal motorcycle crashes began to increase again.
Since the 1990’s, annual motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled. In 2008, fatalities climbed to 5,312 deaths. And then dropped over 15 percent in 2009.
Some experts believe the reason for the decline in fatal bike crashes, was the economy. These same experts believe that as the economy improves more riders will be out on the roads with a possible rebound in the deaths of recreational motorcycle riders. But others do not see this correlation and believe that increases in gas prices also increases motorcycle ridership and that more bikers are out on the roads when gas is at such high prices.
The most worrisome trend reported by AP is that “the number of motorcyclists wearing federally-approved, impact-absorbing helmets dropped 13 percent in the first nine months of 2010.” During this period the use of lighter weight helmets increased by 9 percent. These helmets are said not to protect riders as well as the heavier helmets.
Here is another sobering statistic: helmets that comply with federal safety standards have a huge impact on saving lives. They reduce the biker’s chances of being killed in a bike crash by 40 percent. Many bike enthusiasts would prefer not to wear helmets and have successfully lobbied to reverse mandatory helmet laws.
The National Transportation Safety Board says there are 20 states that require motorcyclists to wear helmets and 13 of those states go beyond the basic requirement and require the use of helmets that meet federal standards.
Motorcycle ridership will be up throughout Georgia during the spring and summer months. As we continue to report on Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, we hope our readers will consider the statistics and safety recommendations when they get out to enjoy their bikes.
If you or a loved one has been injured or has suffered a fatality in a motorcycle crash, we have the expertise and experience in motorcycle injury cases to help you recover. Please contact our Duluth and Atlanta metro area injury law firm for a free consultation. As a highly-respected motorcycle injury and wrongful death attorney, Charles Scholle has the expertise to help guide you and your family.