If you have shaken your head in disbelief as a motorcyclist weaves in and out of traffic on I-95, often wearing no helmet, you may have wondered just how dangerous such behavior is.
As anyone with an ounce of common sense would guess, it’s terribly dangerous.
It’s obvious that when motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Per mile traveled, a motorcyclist is more than 20 times more likely to die than someone traveling in a vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, Florida’s roads are particularly deadly for motorcyclists.
Florida ranks first in the nation for motorcycle deaths, with 606 statewide and 34 in Palm Beach County in 2015, the most recent year available from the NHTSA. That same year, 9,045 people were reported injured in motorcycle crashes in Florida.
It was the worst year ever for motorcycle crash-related fatalities in Florida, marking a 30 percent increase from 2014.
Motorcyclists accounted for one-fifth of motor vehicle fatalities in the state in 2015, yet motorcycles only account for 3 percent of registered vehicles. AAA said.
Thousands of motorcyclists are in Daytona Beach for the 76th annual Daytona Bike week that began Friday and ends this coming Sunday. Drivers should expect an increase in traffic on Florida roadways, AAA said last week.
Florida law allows people over 21 to operate and ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet if they are covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.
“Time and time again the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets has been proven through scientific study,” said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA strongly supports a universal helmet law in Florida.”
Hospital charges for motorcyclists – treated in a hospital due to a traffic crash – totaled $675,674,964 in 2015, according to the Florida Department of Health. The average cost for a motorcyclist involved in a traffic crash who was then admitted to the hospital was $83,676. Helmet use has been shown to significantly reduce the cost associated with motorcycle traffic crashes.
“Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death,” said Josh Carrasco, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Our goal is to make sure all motorists arrive safely at their destination, including motorcyclists.”
Top Counties for Motorcycle Crash Deaths:
AAA encourages drivers and motorcyclists not to drive impaired and to follow these safety tips:
Safety Tips for Motorists:
- Respect motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are vehicles too and have the same privileges as an automobile. Be sure to give them ample room.
- Look and Listen. Even if a motorcycle is loud, you may not hear it. Actively look for motorcycles in traffic.
- Leave room. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and motorcyclists. Uneven terrain, wet roads, and heavy traffic often require a motorcycle rider to react and maneuver differently than automobiles.
- Be aware. Take extra caution when making a left-hand turn, because most automobile-versus-motorcycle crashes occur during left-hand turns.
- Don’t drive distracted. A driver who takes their eyes off the road for two seconds doubles their risk of getting into a crash.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists:
- Wear safety gear. Helmets that meet DOT compliance standards, eye wear, closed-toe footwear and protective clothing reduce your risk of injury or death in a crash. Remember, the only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.
- Be visible. Keep headlights, marker and tail lights on at dusk and dark, or rainy weather. Wear bright clothing or put reflective strips on your bike to be more visible to other motorists. Avoid being in the blind spots of cars and trucks by following three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
- Use sound judgment. Avoid weaving between lanes while riding. Be sure to use your signals and stick to the speed limit.
- Get proper training. Completing a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a better rider, but save you money on your motorcycle insurance.