With summer in full swing, motorcycle riders are getting outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather. Unfortunately, with the increase in riders comes a heightened risk of deadly motorcycle accidents. A report recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that number of motorcyclist fatalities stayed about the same in 2011 as in 2010.
The number of nationwide motorcycle rider fatalities was around 4,500 in both 2010 and 2011. The lack of a decline is particularly notable considering the number of motor vehicle fatalities, including those resulting from car and truck accidents, fell by 1.7 percent in 2011. This marked the lowest number of such fatalities since 1949.
According to the report, the reasons for the stagnation are varied. Some point to the burgeoning economy, as more Americans have excess cash to spend on recreational activities. In addition, when gas prices are higher, people are more likely to ride motorcycles, as they offer better gas mileage. With more motorcyclists on the road, the chances of a fatal accident increase.
Universal Helmet Laws
The decline in the number of states with universal helmet laws has also contributed to the lack of improvement in the number of motorcyclist fatalities. Requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets when they ride is considered one of the most effective ways to prevent personal injuries and fatalities.
At this time, only 19 states and the District of Columbia require motorcycle riders to wear helmets. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states with a universal helmet law have fewer motorcyclist fatalities than those without such a law. The CDC report found that there are approximately five times more fatalities involving motorcyclists not wearing helmets in states lacking a universal helmet law.
Universal helmet laws also reportedly save money, both in reduced medical expenses and lost productivity on the job. According to the CDC, over $3 billion was saved in 2010 because of helmet use by motorcyclists.
Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accidents
Pennsylvania's universal helmet law was repealed in 2003. Since then, a staggering rise in the percentage of injuries and fatalities following motorcycle crashes has been reported.
Since the repeal, the use of helmets among motorcyclists in Pennsylvania has dropped from 82 percent to 58 percent. Consequently, the percentage of fatalities following an accident has risen by 66 percent and the number of motorcyclists sent to the hospital has increased by 43 percent.
For those who have suffered injuries because of a motorcycle accident, or for family members who have lost a loved one, consulting with a skilled Pittsburgh personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected.