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Motorcyclist fatalities are down, but is that good news?

Motorcyclist deaths fluctuate year by year, but a recent report indicates that fatalities were down in 2017 over the year before. That sounds like good news. However, there is another side to this statistic that is not so rosy.

About the report

The nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association provides advocacy for state highway safety offices. The organization released a report in 2018 that addressed motorcycle accident statistics. The report showed that almost 5,000 people died as the result of motorcycle crashes in 2017, representing 300 fewer fatalities than in 2016. That is the good news. The bad news is that motorcyclist deaths happen 28 times more frequently than vehicle occupant deaths.

Understanding the issues

The author of the GHSA report believes that the active 2017 hurricane season may have been partially responsible for fewer motorcycle fatalities that year since bad weather prevented many people from taking their bikes out on the road. Still, to reduce motorcycle fatalities, the Association believes in advocating for a universal motorcycle helmet law. The report emphasized that in 2016, 802 fatalities could have been prevented if riders had worn helmets.

Older riders

In 2016, the average age of motorcyclists who died in crashes was 43. In fact, one-third of all the states reported that older riders made up the majority of their 2017 motorcycle crashes. The physiological issues that come with age include slower reflexes and vision that just is not as sharp as it once was. In a crash with a truck or passenger vehicle, the older motorcycle rider is likely to suffer serious, life-changing injuries or death.

Ignoring rights

In the state of Washington, motorcyclists have the same rights as motorists. The problem is that motorists often fail to recognize those rights. Following a vehicle-motorcycle crash, the motorist will often say, "I just did not see that motorcycle." This is no excuse. Motorists are often at fault for motorcycle accidents in the Seattle area, a sad reality that contributes to the kind of statistics that appeared in the 2017 GHSA report.

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