Motorcycle sales have surged in the past few years as the “over 50” crowd has discovered biking as a relaxing and enjoyable hobby to be shared with friends. Unfortunately, this resurgence of interest in bikes has resulted in a more sinister trend: the increase of deaths in motorcycle-related accidents.
Motorcyclists are already at much greater risk than passenger car drivers and riders; death rates as much as 35 times as high for motorcyclists have been recorded in the past few years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA.
Some have blamed older motorcycle riders for this increase, stating that reaction time for seniors is too slow to safely manage a bike, on which a rider must be quick to respond to dangers. These people claim that, as the population ages and more people are on motorcycles at more advanced ages, the fatality rates will continue to rise. However, older bikers have countered this argument by pointing to “normalized” scores in which age is not a factor; these figures show that age is not the only thing to contribute to the new fatality figures.
According to NHTSA, the number of drivers killed in an accident involving a motorcycle rose from a low of 55.3 per 100,000 riders in 1997 to 69.33 in 2004. This is an increase of 25% in just seven years; could this really be due to the rising numbers of senior motorcycle drivers, or is there another explanation?
While there may be some truth to the idea that older drivers are more often involved in accidents, another factor which may contribute is an overall rise in the number of vehicles on the road, and more drivers’ carelessness when interacting with motorcycles. NHTSA figures show that 75 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve a motorcycle and at least one car or passenger vehicle. Only 25% of fatal motorcycle accidents are “single” accidents in which the motorcycle rider strikes a pole or other object.
These figures, then, must be taken in context. It would appear that more motorcycle riders of all ages are being involved in fatal motorcycle accidents, and this may not be due to their poor driving skills. Many accidents involve “aggressive” behavior on the part of the driver of a car or truck towards motorcyclists, who are expected to “get out of the way” or be able to stop in a split second. Certainly, waning driving skills could contribute to accidents in this regard, but it does not necessarily follow that older drivers should not be allowed on motorcycles. The fact is that many young people, in similar circumstances, would also be unable to control a bike due to the poor driving of a passenger car operator.
California motorcycle accident lawyers are continually vigilant in studying the new trends in motorcycle accidents and injuries, to be sure that the changing laws reflect the right of motorcycle riders as well as passenger car drivers. Talk to a California motorcycle accident attorney today if you have been involved in a collision with a passenger car or truck.