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U.S. Motorcycle Accident Rate Spikes in 2015

Motorcycle Safety

More than 5,000 people were killed in motorcycle accidents nationwide in 2015, which is a 10 percent increase compared to 2014. According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) based on preliminary data provided by state highway safety offices, the final tally for motorcycle deaths in the U.S. is expected to hit 5,010.

This is only the third year in U.S. history and the first time since 2008 in which the number of motorcycle deaths has topped 5,000. When compared with 2014, motorcyclist fatalities increased in 31 states, decreased in 16 states and remained the same in three states and the District of Columbia. In California, there was a 7 percent drop, but the number of fatalities still remains high.

Helmet Use and Motorcycle Fatalities

These sobering statistics are yet another reminder of how vulnerable motorcyclists are to fatal and life-threatening injuries. Safety experts say that the one change that could make a difference with these numbers is the restoration of helmet use laws covering all motorcyclists in the 31 states that lack such measures. Even in states where there are helmet use laws, there is no requirement that the helmets comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation standards.

Experts say this additional requirement could help improve enforceability of helmet laws and increase the level of protection offered by helmets. Currently, only 19 states and D.C. require all riders be helmeted. Another 28 states mandate helmet use by riders younger than age 18 or 21 and three have no requirement. Government studies have found that helmet use rates in universal law states was 89 percent compared with 48 percent in all other states.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

California is one of those states where motorcycle riding is a year-round activity because of the good weather. This is likely why we see more accidents and fatalities than many other states. However, summer time is when there is increased motorcycle activity due to longer days. Here are a few tips for drivers and motorcyclists from our motorcycle accident attorneys to stay safe this summer:

• Always wear a helmet that is certified by the Department of Transportation. Novelty helmets offer no protection from head injuries.
• Never operate any vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
• Motorists and motorcyclists should adhere to the posted speed limits.
• Drivers should avoid all distractions including handheld cell phones.
• Drivers should look out for motorcyclists particularly when they are about to make a turn at an intersection, make a lane change or when they are about to enter or exit an alley or driveway.

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