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Motorcycle safety has not improved in 15 years

Motorcycles have steadily grown in popularity as a mode of transportation in the U.S., and the ridership has become more affluent and older and the bikes have become more expensive. But with this influx of new riders has come a disturbing trend, that of more motorcycle accidents.

Obviously, motorcycles afford their riders less protection than other motor vehicles. There are no crumple zones or airbags on motorcycles. And with more motorcycles on the road, there has been an increase in fatal motorcycle accidents, against a backdrop of an overall drop in total highway traffic fatalities.

From 2010 to 2012, motorcycle fatalities increased from 4,630 to 4,957. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), motorcycle safety has not improved in 15 years, which they attribute to the weakening of helmet laws and fewer riders wearing helmets. However, New Jersey still has a universal helmet law for riders.

In addition to a lack of crashworthiness, a basic problem with motorcycles is there size. They are much harder for other motorists to see, and many times after an accident, the driver of the other vehicle will admit they did not see the motorcycle.

As with other motor vehicles, speed and alcohol can contribute to accidents, but with motorcycles, the dangers are greater. Super sport bikes can reach speeds of 190 miles per hour, which is 278 feet per second. At that speed a rider is almost traveling the distance of a football field every second, meaning the rider has no reaction time before they are upon an object.

Training is important. With many riders acquiring bikes later in life, a safety-training course is important to help them understand the difference when riding a motorcycle.

Whether you travel to Sturgis every year, or just to the Jersey Shore on the weekend, take a few extra steps to remain safe. Moreover, other drivers always need to be alert to the presence of cycles.

Insurance Information Institute, "Motorcycle Crashes," August 2014.

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