Between 2014 and 2015, motorcycle fatalities rose from 449 to 554 in the state of Florida. This is an increase of more than 23 percent. Motorcyclist fatalities account for 19 percent of all traffic fatalities, despite the fact that they only account for approximately 3 percent of all registered vehicles.
According to AAA, one in six motorcycle owners do not have insurance for their vehicles. There is an estimated cost of $1.48 million per fatality, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The estimated costs include medical, legal, emergency and court services along with lost productivity, property damage, workplace losses and insurance costs.
Karen Morgan, public policy manager for AAA, said, “Since the repeal of the helmet law in Florida, motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled. While helmet laws are a controversial issue, AAA strongly supports helmet laws. Bottom line: helmets save lives.”
AAA also found that one-third of those in Florida who own or drive motorcycles do not believe that they should be required by law to wear a helmet when riding. In a study conducted last year by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, half of those people observed riding motorcycles were not wearing helmets.
Regardless of where you stand on the helmet issue, it has been proven that they are 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities when motorcyclists are involved in a crash. To put it more simply, for every 100 motorcyclists, either drivers or passengers, who died in accidents, 37 of those fatalities could have been prevented if the person had been wearing a helmet.
May was motorcycle safety month. Last month, AAA offered safety tips for motorists and motorcyclists in an effort to reduce both the number of crashes and the number of fatalities.
1. Practice respect. It’s important for vehicle drivers to remember that motorcyclists are entitled to the same privileges as those driving traditional vehicles. Give motorcycles ample room. Do not tailgate a bike, do not cut one off, and do not veer into other lanes without looking over your shoulder.
2. Look and listen. Relying on your mirrors is not enough, especially when it comes to motorcycles. Turn your radio down and move your head. Listen intently for any motorcycles that may be nearby and keep your eyes peeled. Never assume that you will see or hear a motorcycle in traffic or otherwise.
3. Stay aware. Most automobile versus motorcycle crashes occur when a vehicle is making a left-hand turn. Stay aware of your surroundings before you turn in any direction but especially when you are turning left.
4. Distracted driving. Do not practice distracted or drowsy driving. Taking your eyes off of the road for even a few seconds greatly increases your chances of getting into an accident. Keep your eyes on the road at all times and, above all, put the cell phone down. There is nothing going on that can’t wait until you are off the road.
1. Safety gear. Always wear the appropriate gear while riding your bike. Helmets, eye wear, closed-toe shoes or boots and protective clothing are important. Each of these things can reduce your chance of serious injury or death if you are involved in a crash with a vehicle. Try to remember that what you choose to wear while riding could end up being the only thing between you and the pavement.
2. Stay visible. Keep your headlights and taillights on during dusk, dawn and inclement weather. Make sure that the clothing you wear is light and bright. You may want to consider adding a bit of reflective tape to your chest and back. Stay out of blind spots of cars and trucks. You can easily do this by following three to four seconds behind the car in front of you.
3. Drive carefully. Or at least safely. Don’t weave in and out of traffic. Don’t follow too closely behind other vehicles. Don’t cut off other drivers. You may be tempted to cut lanes because you are in a hurry and can do so, but it is never a wise decision. Obey the rules of the road just like any other driver out there.
4. Get training. It is never a good idea to get on a bike and drive down the road if you haven’t taken a motorcycle course. You had to take lessons to get your driver’s license. Take lessons to get your motorcycle endorsement. Sure, you can technically drive a bike without the endorsement, but it is illegal to do so and, at the end of the day, a poor decision when it comes to your safety.
No one leaves their home, on two wheels or four, with the expectation of being involved in a collision. Unfortunately for thousands of people everyday, accident do happen. Motorcycle fatalities can be reduced if everyone on the road is just a bit more careful and a lot more respectful of one another. Use the tips above the next time you get behind the wheel or handlebars. Reducing the number of crashes on Florida roadways is everyone’s responsibility.
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident in West Palm Beach, call our office. We have an experienced, dedicated team of attorneys who are willing to help you. Your first consultation with our office is always offered at no cost to you. Let us review the details of your accident and advise you if you may be entitled to compensation under current Florida law. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm and how we can assist you and your family.