Fatal Motorcycle Wrecks Spiked 10 Percent, Report Indicates

As Virginia motorcycle accident lawyers, we take trends in fatal biking crashes very seriously.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. It’s a time when initiatives to protect motorcyclists are highlighted.

Cooper Hurley book on motorcycle wrecks

Cooper Hurley's book about Virginia motorcycle accidents

Sadly, the latest statistics highlight how far we have to go to make motorcycling safer.

The Washington Post reported that the number of people who died in motorcycle crashes rose by 10 percent last year.

The Governors Highway Safety Association is predicting that motorcycle deaths for 2015 will be 5,010. It would be only the third time they have exceeded 5,000, and the first time since 2008, which was a bad year for riders.

The warning comes as better weather arrives and more motorcyclists head out onto the roads.

The Post quoted safety advocates who believe the increase is partly accounted for by the fact 31 states no longer require riders to wear helmets. It’s a theory that’s discounted by riders who say that is not the cause.

The number of motorcyclist deaths rose in 31 states, dropped in 16 states, and remained the same in three others.

The GHSA recorded 79 deaths in Virginia in 2015. That would be a decrease of 11, but deaths rose by five to 74 in Maryland.

Motorcycle accidents account for a disproportionate number of deaths on the roads of Virginia, North Carolina and elsewhere. Although motorcycles are a small fraction of vehicles on the road, they account for nearly 15 percent of road fatalities.

Back in the 1960s, the federal government put states under pressure to make it compulsory for motorcyclists to wear helmets. However, after Congress ended federal authority to enforce financial penalties, the helmet laws were repealed in 31 states. Virginia has a mandatory helmet law.

“The most important injury protection mechanism for motorcyclists is to wear a DOT-compliant helmet,” the GHSA report says. “Helmets reduce head and brain injuries and decrease the risk of dying in a crash by 37 percent.”

Richard Retting, one of the authors of the new report, said his work provides “a stark reminder of how susceptible motorcyclists are to fatal and life-threatening injuries.”

Another was a fatal accident on the Eastern Shore of Virginia just days ago that claimed the life of Chesapeake rider Christina G. Bowman-Weaver.

If you or a loved one has lost their life in a motorcycle accident, another person is often to blame. Typically, it will be a driver who has made a turn and failed to notice a motorcyclist. See our resources on motorcycle accidents on this page, or call us for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077.

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