A recent collision between a motorcycle and a car on an Oklahoma county road resulted in the death of the 27-year-old motorcyclist. His death is just one of thousands of motorcycle fatalities across the country. In 2010, 4,502 people died in motorcycle crashes.
Motorcycle fatalities are unfortunately on the rise. Since 2000, motorcycle-related deaths have gone up 55 percent. The value of a life, like that of the young man who recently died on an Oklahoma road, is impossible to quantify, but the cost of motorcycle deaths and injuries in a year can be measured in terms of medical expenses and loss of human productivity. The latest estimated annual cost of these incidents is $12 billion, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
One Solution: Motorcycle Helmets
It is estimated that helmets could prevent 37 percent of motorcycle operator deaths and 41 percent of passenger deaths. Experts urge motorcyclists to wear helmets, whatever their state law might require.
As of May 2012, three states have no law at all requiring anyone to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. Partial helmet laws are in force in 28 states, requiring only some riders to wear a helmet, usually riders under age 21. The remaining states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws requiring everyone on a motorcycle to wear a helmet.
Helmet laws do influence behavior. Analyzing fatal motorcycle crashes from 2008 to 2010, the CDC found that just 12 percent of motorcyclists were not wearing helmets in states that had universal helmet laws, while 70 percent were not wearing helmets in states with no helmet laws. In states with partial laws, 64 percent of riders did not wear helmets.
Costs saved by helmet laws can be substantial. In California, with a universal helmet law, the savings in 2010 were highest in the country, at $394 million. Even in the state with the lowest cost savings and a partial helmet law, New Mexico, the total came to $2.6 million.
Other Strategies for Safety
Besides wearing a helmet, motorcyclists should also wear protective clothing with bright colors or reflective fabrics for better visibility. Following the rules of the road, such as keeping to the speed limits and refraining from tailgating, will make for a safer ride. Another important action riders can take is to limit or avoid alcohol consumption when riding.
Whatever precautions an individual may take, tragedies unfortunately happen. If anyone is killed or injured in a motorcycle crash, compensation may be available. A personal injury attorney can help with a claim for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and, when sadly necessary, wrongful death.