As you travel this Labor Day weekend, chances are good that you’ll either be riding a motorcycle or will encounter motorcyclists. As of 2012, there were some 8.5 million motorcyclists on U.S. roads.
It’s clear that more Americans are using and enjoying motorcycles. Unfortunately, motorcycle accident and fatality rates seem to be climbing as well, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Motorcycles are generally more dangerous than enclosed, four-wheeled vehicles. Compared to drivers and passengers in cars, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be killed in crash, and five times more likely to suffer injuries.
Perhaps the most notable reason for the increase in fatality rates is the decrease in helmet use. Over the past 15 years, many states have either weakened helmet laws or repealed them altogether. There are now just 19 states with “universal” helmet laws, meaning that helmets are required to be worn by all riders and passengers.
The trend toward weaker helmet laws continues despite evidence showing how effective they are. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle riders are 37 percent less likely to be killed during a crash if they are wearing a helmet. Motorcycle passengers are 41 percent less likely to die if they wear a helmet.
It is up to riders and passengers to keep themselves protected with helmets. But drivers of four-wheeled vehicles also have a role to play when it comes to preventing motorcycle accidents. Drivers can help prevent accidents by:
- Giving motorcyclists more room within their lane
- Being more attentive to the presence of motorcyclists on the road
- Waiting for oncoming motorcyclists to pass by before making left-hand turns in cross traffic
- Slowing down and driving defensively
This Labor Day weekend California roads will likely be filled with drivers and riders alike. As we celebrate the end of summer, we all need to remember that traffic safety must be a concerted effort. Please do your part to make sure everyone arrives at their destination safe and sound.