According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, data from 2013 shows that motorcycle fatalities are dropping across the nation. From 2012 levels, California alone saw fatalities drop 13 percent. Though this may seem like excellent news -- and it is by all standards -- our San Jose readers should remember that the number of traffic fatalities in any particular state often rely on several factors.
One of those factors has to do with helmet laws. Here in California, both drivers and passengers on motorcycles are required to wear helmets while riding. In some states though, this isn’t the case. As a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official noted in a new study, states where mandatory helmet laws were not enforced saw higher fatality rates than those where laws were mandatory.
Another factor is weather. Winter was particularly harsh in many states across the nation, meaning the number of motorcycling miles was decreased because of poor road conditions. This significantly dropped the number of motorcycle fatalities nationwide to 7 percent in 2013. As our readers know, poor road conditions can happen anywhere though and have been known to be factors in serious motorcycle accidents in the past.
But while both of these factors can increase a rider’s risk of an accident, it’s other motorists that a rider must be most worried about. That’s because, in states the nation over, drivers continue to use the “I didn’t see them” defense after a motorcycle collision. While this might explain why the accident occurred, it does not relieve them of liability in the crash and certainly does not make up for the injuries these accidents often cause.
We hope our readers will keep these factors in mind as the weather warms up because whether they are the motorcyclist or the driver of another vehicle, always being aware of your surroundings is perhaps the best way to prevent a serious motor vehicle accident from occurring in the first place.
Source: The Los Angeles Times, “Motorcycle fatalities drop 7% in U.S., 13% in California in 2013,” Charles Fleming, May 6, 2014
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