Why are Motorcycle Fatalities Increasing?

As the weather starts to warm up, more and more motorcyclists will start hitting the roadways. With the increase of motorcyclists on the roadways, comes an increased danger of those motorcyclists getting into serious, and even life-threatening, accidents. According to the Insurance Information Institute, motorcyclists are more vulnerable on the road and are more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident than occupants in a car, bus, or truck.

In September 2017, three people were injured in a motorcycle accident in Henry County, Illinois. According to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, a group of motorcycles were driving on U.S. Route 150, when two of the motorcycles crashed into each other. That same month in McHenry County, a sixty-three-year-old man was killed when a SUV struck his motorcycle. The Crystal Lake Police Department’s Accident Investigation Team, in reconstructing the accident, determined that the driver of the SUV, a seventeen-year-old boy, turned left in front of the motorcycle, striking the motorcycle. The motorcyclist later died at a local hospital. A similar occurrence happened in May 2017 in DeKalb County, where a twenty-six-year-old motorcyclist died after a SUV turned left in front of his motorcycle. The driver of the SUV stated that she did not see the motorcyclist before turning. The motorcyclist was pronounced dead at the scene.

In 2015, motorcycle fatalities across the United States topped 5,000. In Illinois, there were 144 fatal crashes involving motorcycles in 2015 alone, up over twenty-four percent from the previous year. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 1.1 percent of total crashes and 15.8 percent of all fatal crashes in Illinois in 2015. According to the Government Accounting Office (GAO), motorcycle crashes cost the U.S. on average $16 billion per year. The GAO arrived at this number by looking at costs such as emergency services, medical treatment costs, property damage costs, lost wages, and insurance costs. The study, conducted in 2010, estimated the cost of a fatal motorcycle accident to be about $1.2 million, and $1.4 million for severe, but non-fatal injuries. The study noted that severe, but non-fatal injuries cost more because such injuries can result in total incapacitation, requiring ongoing care and medical expenses.

To decrease motorcycle accidents, Illinois has instituted a “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign and has declared the month of May the Motorcycle Awareness Month. The campaign urges drivers to stay vigilant and consciously look for motorcycles on the roadways. Illinois has also instituted “Gear Up – Ride Smart” and “Ride Legal in Illinois” campaigns to encourage motorcycle drivers to operate their motorcycles safely and with the proper classification. The Illinois Department of Transportation urges motorcycle drivers (and passengers) to wear helmets, wear high-visibility clothing, to drive sober, to stay out of vehicles’ blind-spots, safely pass other vehicles, and ride behind another vehicle at a minimum of a three second following distance.

Illinois is one of three states in the nation that does not have a law that mandates motorcyclists and their passengers to wear helmets. Even though Illinois does not require helmets to be worn, statistics show that wearing a helmet can reduce injuries and save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved 1,859 motorcyclists’ lives in 2016, and 802 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. NHTSA estimates that helmets are thirty-seven percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and forty-one percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle passengers.

Motorcycle accidents can be scary and medical costs can quickly stack up. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact car accident lawyer John Malm at John J. Malm & Associates to learn more about how you may be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries.