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I have ridden thousands of miles on my street bike and know the dangers that motorcyclists face every time they get on a bike. In my experience, most motorcycle riders are very safe and cautious, as our life is on the line if we are not.
Motorcyclists often encounter negative attitudes about riding motorcycles and insurance companies use this to try and pressure motorcyclists into accepting unfair settlements.
I know the majority of motorcyclists are themselves very safe, aware operators, because they have to be.
Insurance companies are after all working for their shareholders, working for the interest of making their shareholders money, and don't always have the best interest of the injured in mind. Insurance companies utilize the fact that people associate riding motorcycles negatively with risky and reckless behavior, and a motorcyclist might even be pressured to sign away their rights being told that they'll never win their case or get a fair jury because of this.
The research that has been done on motorcycle verses car accidents shows us that indeed, motorcyclists have to be alert, skilled and defensive at all times. Taking a closer look at motorcycle accidents is important for motorcyclists as well as educational for car drivers.
The NHTSA National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, mission statement is: "Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle related crashes."
According to the NHTSA Motorcycle Safety Facts 2007, "Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash." Motorcycles Traffic Safety Fact Sheet 2007(DOT-HS-810-990). The NHTSA has the new 2008 Motorcycle Safety Fact Sheet out, and there was a small increase in motorcycle fatalities.
NHTSA Motorcycle Traffic Safety Stats 2017, which has engine size, helmet use, speeding factors, license and motorcycle operational history factors, environment factors, and some other dinteresting ata vectors.
The last comprehensive NHTSA funded motorcycle crash study was published in 1981, almost thirty years ago, and is often referred to as the "Hurt Study" after the lead USC researcher Harry Hurt. The 1981 Hurt study and subsequent less comprehensive but more recent motorcycle crash data, teaches us much about motorcycle safety trouble spots that can empower motorcyclists on the road, as well be instructive to car drivers.
The NHTSA 1981 Hurt research informs us that in 3/4 of motorcycle accidents studied, the motorcycle was involved in a collision with a car or truck. In the majority of motorcycle verses car accidents the motorist just did not see the motorcycle in traffic, or did not recognize the motorcycle until it was too late for the car driver to do anything in an attempt to avoid the crash with the motorcyclist.
The 1981 Hurt motorcycle crash study also found that intersections were the most likely place for a motorcyclist to have an accident, most often with an oncoming car, violating the motorcycle's right of way. In addition, motorcyclists have to deal with dangerous intersections, and cars or truck drivers violating the right of way with the more surprising high incidence of motorcycle verses car collisions occuring in intersections when the car was also in violation of traffic signals. Both of these types of frequent causes for motorcycle and car accidents is because the driver just failed to see the motorcyclist on the road. In fact, the majority of car verses motorcycles happen from head on; car drivers just have the most difficult time detecting a motorcycle head on. It is even more of a problem for a driver to see a motorcycle from head on even than a driver seeing a motorcyclists behind them, for instance when a car is changing lanes on the freeway.
The motorcyclist typically only has two seconds to complete all accident avoidance maneuvers.
Motorcycle crash study facts speak loudly that as car drivers, we all need to be more aware and actively looking for motorcycles on the road. When there is a car verses motorcycle accident, these motorcycle crash study data indicate that motorcyclists are not only more likely to be injured but it's also likely these injuries will more severe than that of car driver and vehicle passengers.
The Hurt Study and more recent data findings indicate that motorcycle riders involved in these accidents had problems avoiding the accident. Of course, not all accidents are avoidable, and a typical accident allows a motorcyclist only two seconds to complete all accident avoidance maneuvers, but the Hurt Study showed motorcycle skill problems, like under or over breaking, and problems steering and controlling the bike. In fact, motorcyclists involved in these accidents either had a new bike, with less than five months on that bike, or were inexperienced motorcycle riders. Consider also that the Hurt Study found motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience were significantly underrepresented in the crash data.
Motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities have only become worse and more prevalent since the Hurt Study. Our Government is responding and you can help:
In 2005, 4,553 motorcyclists were killed and 87,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States, increases of 13 percent, and 14 percent respectively from 2004. Per vehicle mile traveled in 2004, motorcyclists were about 34 times more likely to die, and 8 times more likely to be injured in a motor vehicle crash than were passenger car occupants. Per 100 million miles traveled, in 2004, motorcyclist fatalities were 77 percent higher than they were in 1994. This compares with a decrease of 22 percent in fatality rates for occupants in passenger vehicles over the same period. These data show that the motorcycle crash problem is becoming more severe.
Congress has recognized this problem and directed the DOT to conduct research that will provide a better understanding of the causes of motorcycle crashes. Specifically, in Section 5511 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. [The] Motorcycle Crash Causation Study and Pilot Motorcycle Crash Causes and Outcomes Study. In 2005, 4,553 motorcyclists were killed and 87,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States, increases of 13 percent, and 14 percent respectively from 2004. Per vehicle mile traveled in 2004, motorcyclists were about 34 times more likely to die, and 8 times more likely to be injured in a motor vehicle crash than were passenger car occupants. Per 100 million miles traveled, in 2004, motorcyclist fatalities were 77 percent higher than they were in 1994. This compares with a decrease of 22 percent in fatality rates for occupants in passenger vehicles over the same period. These data show that the motorcycle crash problem is becoming more severe.
Consumer Reports noted in June of 2008 on their blog that with the economy, environmental concerns, and unpredictable gas prices, many motorists are turning to mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles for transportation. But there is added risk in choosing two wheel commuting and errand transportation options.
This new study will be a significant comprehensive motorcycle crash study, as was the Hurt Study, nearly thirty years ago.
The new Federal grant provides 2.8 million to the comprehensive motorcycle crash study but it also mandates that the funds be matched by the motorcycle industry.
The AMA, American Motorcyclist Association, had created a drive to help individuals, and the motorcycle community,get involved in helping to raise the matching funds and awareness for this new study which the AMA called, "Fueling the Fund. Still continued work to get the attentention of polticy makers to improve safety for motorcycle, moped and scooter users is necessary. The new motorcycle crash causation study launched in June 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2015.
Federal Highway Administration and includes funding from the AMA and its members and seven states: Iowa, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. The AMA participates in the bi-annual working group meeting that monitors the study and the FHWA has a dedicated staff member who monitors the study's progress. Dr. Samir A. Ahmed, the lead researcher and a professor of transportation systems and engineering and the OSU School of Civil & Environmental Engineering, stepped down in September 2012. While Ahmed's departure from the study was unexpected, the AMA remains cautiously optimistic that the study will reveal new insights into the causes of motorcycle crashes in the modern era. Details on the crash causation study can be found at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/tfhrc/projects/safety/motorcycles/ MCCS/
In 2019 the NHTSA released a motorcycle safety 5 year plan.
Motorcycle safety is at a unique juncture. Overall traffic fatalities are increasing, and motorcyclist fatalities also continue to increase and are near their highest level in over 35 years. Motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities. Motorcycle crashes are 27 times as likely to result in a fatality compared to other motor vehicle crashes.
Not since the Hurt Study have we had such a thorough study. This study was also done in Orange County, California where the original Hurt Study was done. At 142 pages, the final report is a lot to chew on, but definitely worth the time to look at.
The final dataset includes 351 on-scene crash investigations and 702 control cases. The crashinvestigation team responded in real time to 500 crashes under the jurisdiction of cooperating police agencies in Orange County, CA. Cases were retained in the study when a crash resulted in an injury to a motorcyclist or passenger and permission was obtained to inspect the crashinvolved vehicles. The indepth investigations included extensive interviews, detailed recordings of environmental and crash-related scene data, and documentation of injuries. Case reports included coded and narrative data as well as diagrams and photographic documentation.
I support motorcycle safety education.
Motorcycle safety training is one aspect that the Hurt Study and also more recent NHTSA data supports can make a significant difference for motorcyclists. With every motorcycle case I handled, I gave a free PSSR track day at PIR - Portland International Raceway (until PSSR retired - now I am proud to be the Oregon Motorcycle Attorney contributing sponsor of Andy DiBrino Motorcycle Racing who might lead a track day for me someday but for now, he is too busy racing most of the time, but the pandemic has found him doing some more coaching and a few track days). Motorcycle crash statistics show that experience with our bikes is essential if we are to handle our bike in a critical moment.
While not all accidents are avoidable, the skill and confidence safety training encourages is essential, and also track days are just fun. Of course, Oregon's motorcycle operator's license requires safety training, but the point is, it really makes a difference, and for all experience levels, there's more experience to be had pushing yourself and your bike in non-traffic situations.
Consider these findings in the new Motorcycle Crash Causation Study that rely on the motorcycle riders skill, experience on all motorcycles but also on the motorcycle being ridden in order to properly execute the evasive action to avoid an accident:
Validity of Evasive Action for the Situation
- Proper evasive action was taken twice as often as the improper action in multiplevehicle crashes (27 percent proper versus 11 percent improper), while improper evasive action was taken twice as often as the proper action in single-vehicle crashes (43 percent proper versus 22 percent improper).
- "Yes, Evasive Action Was the Proper Choice for the Situation" was unrepresented in fatal crashes.
Competent Execution of Evasive Action
- Evasive action was neither taken nor properly executed in 80 percent of cases.
- Proper execution was underrepresented in single-vehicle and fatal crashes.
Not all Oregon personal injury attorneys are the same, especially when it comes to handling motorcycle accident injury cases.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, please consult with an Oregon personal injury attorney as soon as possible, even before consulting with your own insurance company. An Oregon personal injury attorney will protect your rights, and make sure that you get the maximum personal injury settlement. I have a history of proven results fighting for seriously injured motorcycle riders. My consultations are always free and within a few minutes I can share my thoughts on your case so that you can decide what is best for you.