Motorcycle Accidents May Be on the Rise in 2011, Riders Must Take Care


Motorcycle safety has always been a major issue for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but there has been some good news regarding motorcycle fatalities, at least at first glance.

Statistics for 2010 released by the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that motorcycle fatalities had decreased by 2.4 percent nationwide in 2010. However, the drop was not nearly as great as that for 2009, when the decline was 16 percent. Further, the statistics indicated that in the third quarter of 2010, fatalities rose by three percent when compared with the same period in 2009.

The organization’s conclusion is that motorcycle accidents and fatalities are on the rise, most likely due to increased ridership, lack of experience, bad weather and failure to use helmets. With the economy still struggling to recover, more people are either returning to riding motorcycles or are doing so for the first time.

Only 20 states and the District of Columbia require all riders to wear helmets, with 27 states only requiring helmets for riders either age 20 or 17 and younger. Three states – Iowa, New Hampshire and Illinois – have no helmet laws.

Safety Tips for Motorcyclists and Drivers

Riding a motorcycle offers very little protection during a collision. Only about one in five riders involved in accidents escapes uninjured or with minor injuries. Riders can take steps to protect themselves by taking a motorcycle safety course as a refresher or, if a novice rider, to learn cornering, stopping and other safety techniques.

Higher speeds reduce the time available for a biker to judge a hazard or make an adjustment, so maintaining a reasonable speed based on the traffic laws and conditions is always advisable. If lane sharing is permitted, riders should do so at a safe speed.

A routine maintenance check is even more essential for a motorcycle than for cars. A motorcycle check-up should include inspecting the tires and valves for leaking oil. A blowout at 65 mph can be devastating, as can a fire if a spark contacts oil.

In inclement weather, riders should wait at least 30 minutes after a rainfall to ensure that oil slicks from motor vehicles are washed away. They should also avoid riding at night if possible.

About 70 percent of all motorcycle accidents occur at intersections, so riders need to be especially vigilant. Bikers should always wear a full helmet and safety clothing such as leather gloves, boots, durable jackets and pants, as well as brightly colored upper-body clothing.

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