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Can we sustain the downward trend in motorcycle fatalities?

According to a report released by a nonprofit organization, fatalities among motorcycle riders decreased slightly in 2017.

Still, in terms of highway deaths overall, motorcycle fatalities are greatly overrepresented. What can we do to ensure a continuing decline in the statistics?

About the report

The Governors Highway Safety Association released a 2018 report indicating that although almost 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2017, this was 300 fewer than the number of motorcycle deaths in 2016. While this is not a large number, the modest decline gave hope to the report's author, Tara Casanova Powell, who said she was “cautiously optimistic” that the downward trend could continue.

Why fatalities remain high

The 40+ age group has taken over for younger riders as the group most likely to sustain injuries or die. One-third of the states represented in the GHSA study reported the involvement of older riders in most of the 2017 motorcycle crashes. As we age, physiological changes include slower reflexes, poor eyesight and, if alcohol is a factor, impaired judgment.

Taking steps

The GHSA report emphasized that if all motorcycle riders had worn protective helmets in 2016, that decision alone could have saved more than 800 lives. In the continuing effort to reduce motorcycle injuries and death, some states have also implemented laws that require the installation of ignition interlock devices on motorcycles. Unless the rider passes the blow test to determine his or her blood alcohol concentration level, the bike will not start.

Seeking help

Motorcycle riders have the same rights as motorists, but motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to injury or death. Injuries can be devastating and may involve broken bones, serious internal damage and traumatic brain injury. Some injuries can heal over time while others require rehabilitation and pose lifelong medical issues. This is where an advocate can provide significant help to the victim in negotiating full and fair insurance compensation to cover medical expenses, pain and suffering and more. Meanwhile, the quest for a further reduction in motorcycle fatalities and injuries continues.  

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  • Kentucky Justice Association
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