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Motorcycle Accidents: What Bikers Need to Know to Stay Safe

Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

There are many ways that a motorcyclist can get into an accident but some ways are more common than others. For instance, inexperienced motorcyclists with fewer than six months of experience cause more than 50% of all motorcycle accidents. One-third of motorcycle crashes involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Many bikers drive too fast – data indicates that average pre-crash speeds are 29.8 miles per hour while average crash speeds are 21.5 miles per hour. Accidents are also often caused by lane splitting, which is where a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of traffic. Other common reasons for motorcycle accidents include roadway defects, poor weather conditions, poor visibility and ignoring traffic signs and signals. Car and truck drivers often become involved in these crashes either because of road rage or because they failed to properly use turn signals.

What Injuries do Motorcyclists Face?

The most common injury to a motorcyclist is a leg fracture although other broken bones often occur as well. Lacerations, especially road rash, are also frequent. Head injuries amount to 35% of motorcycle accident injuries. Amputations account for less than 1% of all motorcycle-related injuries. Paralysis can happen and will require a lot of costly medical care. Almost 5,000 motorcyclists die in a crash each year.

Helmet Laws for Bikers

Each state makes its own decision regarding whether or not to enact helmet laws. Some states have tough helmet laws while others do not regulate the use of helmets at all. Here are lists of state helmet laws:

States With No Motorcycle Helmet LawsStates Where Some Motorcycle Riders Must Wear Helmets:
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

All Motorcycle Riders Must Wear Helmets:
  • Alabama
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennesee
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

Statistical Data Concerning Motorcycle Accidents

As of 2007, there were more than 7.1 million bikers on the roads in the United States. Bikers are experience up to 35 times more fatal crashes than drivers of passenger vehicles. Almost 88,000 motorcycle drivers were harmed and 4,810 were killed in traffic accidents in 2006. Head injuries are the top cause of death in these cases. In the United States, 11% of all accidents involve a motorcyclist.

Motorcyclists not wearing their helmets are at least 15% more likely to receive an injury and 40% more likely sustain a fatal head injury over those who wear helmets. Current estimates say that using a helmet reduces accident casualties by up to 37%. I

n 2005, there were 73 fatalities per each 100,000 motorcyclists as compared to 14 fatalities to every 100,000 passenger vehicle driver. Those numbers are projected to rise – between 1997 and 2005, motorcycle registrations rose by 63% and fatalities more than doubled to match.

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