By Dan Christensen, Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney and Owner of DC Law
Every May, organizations across the country celebrate National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month to remind motorcyclists how important it is to take proper safety precautions before hopping on their bikes, while also helping drivers learn how to better share the road.
In honor of this annual awareness holiday, my Austin, Texas-based personal injury law firm, DC Law, took a close look at motorcycle crash data from across the state of Texas to create a comprehensive Motorcycle Accident & Injury Report. This report is designed to help riders better understand their greatest accident and injury risk factors so they can safely enjoy the roads this spring and beyond.
Key Findings from DC Law’s Motorcycle Accident & Injury Report
The DC Law team compiled 10 years’ worth of data and statistics regarding motorcycle-related accidents in Texas to identify factors that contribute to motorcycle injuries and deaths. Below are key findings from the report:
- Age & Helmet Statistics: Riders who were 18 years old and under, and 45 to 54, were less likely to be wearing a helmet at the time of a crash. According to Texas data from 2018, more than half of motorcyclists who were under 18 (52%) or 45 to 54 (51%) and suffered a serious injury from a crash were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Additionally, 64% of riders age 45 to 54 who suffered fatal injuries from a crash were not wearing a helmet.
- Safety by Day of the Week: Mondays through Fridays are more treacherous for motorcyclists than Saturdays and Sundays. According to Texas findings from 2010-2017, 65% of motorcycle crashes occur on weekdays, with 35% of crashes occurring on the weekend.
- Safety by Time of Day: Overall, crashes that happen during the day result in less serious injury to the motorcyclist. 74% of crashes that occurred during the daytime resulted in no or minor injuries, while 30% of crashes that occurred during nighttime resulted in fatal or serious injuries.
- Injuries by Community Type (Rural vs. Urban): Serious and fatal motorcycle crashes are more likely to occur in rural locations rather than in urban areas. Between 2010 and 2017 in rural Texas, 8% of crashes were fatal and 28% of crashes were suspected to have resulted in serious injury, compared to urban areas where 4% of crashes were fatal and 19% of crashes were suspected to be serious.
- Riding Under the Influence: From 2010-2017 there were more than 5,400 motorcycle accidents involving drivers under the influence. The vast majority of the time (83%), the motorcyclist was the intoxicated driver. Additionally, 55% of impaired accidents involving motorcycles resulted in fatal or serious injury.
5 Motorcycle Safety Tips
Taking basic safety precautions is the best way to guarantee you can enjoy your motorcycle year after year. Based on the findings of our new motorcycle accident and injury report, below are five simple, yet important safety tips to keep in mind before you hit the road.
- Always wear a helmet: Even if it’s not required by law in your state, it’s imperative to wear a helmet every time you get on your bike. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), helmets reduce motorcycle accident fatalities by up to 42 percent and brain injuries by up to 69 percent. When shopping for a helmet, make sure it’s approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and it fits your head properly.
- Ride sober: Driving under the influence decreases vision, concentration and coordination, which are essential functions to safely operate a motor vehicle. Overall, intoxication increases a motorcyclist’s risk of getting into an accident that results in serious or fatal injuries. If you’ve been drinking you should hail a cab, call a rideshare or find a designated driver. Always ride sober, point-blank.
- Increase your visibility: Motorcycles are much more difficult for motorists to spot than other full-sized vehicles. Make sure to use your lights, wear bright-colored clothing, utilize reflectors and choose a bright color for your bike, if possible.
- Service your bike regularly: If you’re dusting the cobwebs off your bike after a long winter, its important to make sure your motorcycle is in good working condition before your first ride of the season. Key equipment to check includes your tires, breaks, horn, mirrors, steering system and head and brake lights.
- Pay attention to environmental conditions: Our motorcycle accident and injury report found crashes that happened at night were more likely to result in fatal or serious injuries. Take things like weather, light conditions and road conditions into account. Try to limit riding to days with fair weather conditions and during daylight hours. If you must drive at night, look for routes with well-lit roads. Additionally, keep a close eye out for potholes and road debris that could cause you to swerve and lose control of your bike.
Stay Safe & Enjoy the Roads
As you get ready to bring your bike out of the garage this spring, we hope you’ll keep these statistics and tips in mind. But even on the best days, accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one are injured in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, be sure to reach out to an attorney for a free consultation. You may be eligible for compensation to help you cover medical bills, bike repairs and more.
For more information and resources to help you stay safe on the roads, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations Motorcycle Safety Guide or your state’s Department of Transportation to learn more about motorcycle laws in your area.