Motorcycle Deaths Hit an All-Time High, Tips to Keep Riders Safe

Vehicles transport us to the places we need to go, especially during the busy summer months. Motorcycles are inherently more popular during summer but they’re also undeniably more dangerous to ride. 

While auto accident deaths steadily declined over the past 20 years (except for a post-pandemic spike), motorcycle fatalities went the other way. In 2022, over 6,000 motorcyclists were killed in the U.S., which is the highest number ever recorded since the federal tracking system was started in 1975.  

Why are motorcycles so dangerous? 

Motorcycles are riskier than cars primarily because of how they are structured. Instead of four wheels, motorcycles have two wheels making them harder to balance. Cars are also equipped with numerous safety features, including seat belts, airbags, and a surrounding structure that protects occupants in a crash. 

In general, motorcycles require more mental and physical skills to use and drive safely. They are also very vulnerable to hazardous weather and road conditions, such as rain and ice. Plus, motorcyclists are harder to see by other drivers who may not yield to them when they are supposed to. 

The most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Reckless driving (speed, failure to signal, etc.)
  • Driver impairment (fatigue, alcohol, drugs, etc.)
  • Distracted driving
  • Other drivers (failure to check blindspots, unwillingness to yield, poor judgment of a motorcycle’s distance or speed)
  • Roadway or weather conditions 

From 2000 to 2022, the National Safety Council (NSC) reports that motorcycle deaths nationwide rose by almost 115%! So, what can motorcyclists do to stay safe? 

Louisiana Passed a Universal Helmet Law in 2004

In 2022, Louisiana saw 91 motorcyclists killed and 1,537 riders were involved in crashes. Simply put, motorcyclists are vulnerable road users. To combat this issue, Louisiana passed a universal helmet law in 2004 after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that 715 lives nationwide could have been saved that year by the use of a helmet

Louisiana’s law requires you to wear an approved motorcycle helmet at all times and on all types of roadways while on a motorcycle. This rule applies to both motorcyclists and their passengers. 

Whether your passenger rides behind you or beside you in a sidecar, a helmet is mandatory. The NSC reports that helmets prevent fatalities about 37% of the time for drivers and around 41% of the time for passengers in motorcycle accidents. 

Furthermore, the helmet must be specifically designed for use on a motorcycle: this means bicycle and skateboard helmets, for example, won’t cut it. According to the law, an approved motorcycle helmet must have:  

  • Visor
  • Interior lining and padding
  • Working chin strap

Be Aware of Motorcycles: Safety Tips for Drivers

Because so many motorcycle accidents happen because of other car drivers, it’s vital that they do their part to help keep them safe. Here are some things that drivers can do when it comes to sharing the road:

  • Watch for Motorcyclists → Keep an eye out for motorcyclists on the road. Knowing that motorcycles are often harder to see because they are smaller than cars and other vehicles, make sure you look out for them.
  • Give Motorcyclists Enough Room → When you see a motorcyclist, drive carefully around them. Keep a safe distance between your car and them. Don’t crowd them or change lanes too close to them, because something like a minor fender bender on a car can be fatal to a motorcyclist.
  • Keep Trash in the Car → Be mindful of trash in your car, because road debris can kill a rider. Don’t throw anything, even things you might think are too small to do anything (like cigarette butts), out of your car.
  • Focus on Driving → When you’re driving, make sure you’re paying attention. Even when you are watching the road, motorcycles can still be hard to see. Studies show that distracted drivers miss things like signs, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Get off your phone and pay attention.
  • Use Your Turn Signals → For everyone’s safety on the road, use your blinkers. This helps other drivers and motorcyclists. It helps with general safety on the road and it’s the law! It’s important to communicate with other people on the road.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or have been the victim of a negligent driver and wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact us today.