Despite the fun and exciting aspects of motorcycles, riders must be aware of the dangers they face. Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injury or death, and the likelihood of a fatality is more than three times higher than in a car accident.
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The number of motorcycle deaths in the United States has been steadily rising for the past decade. The number of motorcycle fatalities hit an all-time high in the past year, with 5,579 deaths. These motorcycle deaths represent 10 percent of all traffic fatalities and are 29 times more deadly than car deaths per mile. This makes motorcyclists among the most dangerous road users in the country.
Motorcycle accidents tend to occur in urban areas more often than in rural areas. This is probably because many riders enjoy riding on motorcycles for recreational purposes, and are less likely to be familiar with rural road conditions. Several factors contribute to fatal motorcycle accidents. Some of these include alcohol, speeding, and unsafe riding behavior. Other motorists may fail to yield the right of way to motorcycles.
According to NHTSA data, the majority of fatal motorcycle accidents involve collisions with other motor vehicles. However, there are also fatalities due to collisions with objects. Typically, a motorcyclist is more likely to be injured or killed in a collision with a fixed object such as a concrete highway barrier or bridge abutment. Other factors include weather conditions, such as rain or fog, which reduce traction.
The rate of fatal crashes involving an unhelmeted motorcyclist was particularly high in states that have not enacted universal helmet laws. In states that have such laws, 47 states require all riders to wear helmets, while only 18 states require younger riders to do so. In contrast, in states that do not have such laws, 57% of motorcyclists who were killed in a motorcycle crash in the previous year did not wear a helmet.
The most common age group for fatalities in motorcycle accidents was the 25-34 age range. In contrast, the 40-49 age group accounted for only ten percent of fatalities. The increased number of riders over 40 years of age may be contributing to the increase in motorcycle fatalities.
Motorcycle accidents can be more deadly than other types of motor vehicle accidents because they are less stable, and because motorcycle riders often lack protection during crashes. Additionally, motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents when traveling on non-interstate highways. In addition, motorcycles are less visible than cars, so drivers need to be extra careful when operating a motorcycle.
Drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.08 percent or higher were the most likely to be involved in fatal motorcycle accidents. In addition, riders were more likely to be severely impaired compared to drivers with BACs of less than 0.08%. This is because high BACs impair reaction times. Motorcyclists who are impaired are also more likely to make poor decisions, causing more accidents.
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