Early this year, a young man was killed in Ocala after driving his motorcycle over 70 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone. The 19-year-old struck a car while making a turn and died on the scene, and crash investigators reported that the motorcycle accident would not have occurred if the teen had been driving the speed limit. Florida is home to many avid motorcyclists and hosts Bike Week in Daytona Beach every year, but unfortunately Florida also boasts one of the highest motorcycle fatality rates in the nation.
The National Motorcycle Institute estimated that mile for mile, driving a motorcycle is 27 times more dangerous than driving a passenger car, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts that number closer to 30 percent. In 2013, 449 Floridians were killed in motorcycle accidents, accounting for 18 percent of traffic fatalities in the state of Florida despite motorcyclists making up just 7 percent of motorists. Although some states have seen a decrease in motorcyclist fatalities in the last several years, Florida has not seen such improvements. In 2014, motorcyclist fatalities still made up 18 percent of Florida vehicle fatalities, with 445 motorcyclists killed. These numbers are significantly higher than most other states’ death rates: Florida was second for motorcycle fatalities in 2013 and third in 2014. In 2013, Florida, California, and Texas accounted for 31 percent of deaths nationwide. Summer months are most dangerous, with 62 percent of motorcycle fatalities occurring between May and September, but Florida has year-round riding weather, increasing the risk of crashes throughout all four seasons.
Helmet Laws Not Adequate
While driving under the influence, erratic driving, and speeding are among the leading causes of motorcycle accidents, one of the major factors in motorcycle accident fatalities continues to be helmet usage. Florida repealed its helmet law in 2000, and accident fatality rates for motorcycle riders have significantly increased since then. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported that helmets reduce head and brain injuries and reduce the risk of dying in a crash by 37 percent. Unfortunately, many riders choose not to wear helmets, whether laws require them to or not. AAA conducted a Consumer Pulse survey among Florida motorcycle riders and found that 85 percent of the general population believes that motorcyclists should be required by law to wear helmets, compared with just 32 percent of motorcycle owners. In states with no helmet laws like Florida, helmet use averages just 48 percent, while 89 percent of riders in states with helmet laws use them. The GHSA report estimated that helmet use can be increased to over 90 percent when laws require motorcyclists to wear helmets, saving countless lives unnecessarily lost in biking accidents. Until Florida reinstates a helmet law, however, bikers must use their own judgment to keep themselves safe on the roads.
Need More Information?
Although you may reduce your risk of collisions by following safe driving practices and wearing a helmet, other drivers cause accidents with motorcyclists by not seeing motorcycle or by failing to pay attention to other motorists’ paths on the road or by following too closely. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle in central or north Florida, let lawyer John Piccin at the Piccin & Glynn help. John had handled dozens of motorcycle cases. He can answer your questions, negotiate with insurance companies, and even make home or hospital visits to ensure you get the help you need. Call us at 352-581-6174 or contact us online for your free case consultation today.