They’re one of the most vulnerable groups on the road: motorcycle riders. Motorcyclists have no cab, seatbelts, or airbags to protect them in the event of a crash. And although motorcycles only make up 3 percent of the registered vehicles in the U.S., they are responsible for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.
In 2020, 82 motorcyclists from 1,543 crashes died on Louisiana roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that over 43 percent of the fatalities across the United States in 2013 could have been prevented by simply wearing a helmet. That would have resulted in 715 lives being saved.
In 2004, Louisiana reinstated a universal helmet law after studies revealed it to be the most effective motorcycle safety measure that saves lives in crashes. A universal law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear a helmet or face a ticket. After the law was passed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports:
- Motorcycle crash victims were 11.7 times more likely to wear a helmet.
- Fatalities were 30 percent less likely.
- Severe and moderate injuries also decreased.
And it’s not just an increase in lives saved. In 2019, helmets saved more than $3.5 billion in economic costs (medical care, lost productivity, legal and court costs, etc.) and $21 billion in comprehensive costs (economic costs associated with lost quality of life).
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
At the first sign of warm weather, every motorcycle rider is ready to dust off the winter blues and be outside on an open road. But what good is riding a motorcycle if you can’t do it safely? In 2020, most motorcycle deaths occurred between the months of June to September, with each month contributing 12 percent or more to the total fatalities.
That’s why May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness about how to ride a motorcycle and stay safe on roads across Louisiana and the U.S. Because motorcyclist safety is everyone’s safety. Safe driving and riding practices, along with cooperation from all road users, can help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on highways across the nation.
Tips to Know for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Knowing Louisiana motorcycle laws is an important first step to understanding how to stay safe. Keep these safety tips in mind before hitting the road, whether you are buying your first motorcycle, upgrading or just interested in a safer ride:
- You must wear a helmet: As a reminder, Louisiana is a state that requires helmet use for all riders and passengers. The numbers tell it all: Helmets prevent fatal injuries 37 percent of the time for riders and 41 percent for passengers. In 2019, that translated into 1,872 fewer motorcycle deaths, according to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- You must complete a road rules and skills test: Learn basic and advanced defensive riding techniques from courses offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to receive a motorcycle endorsement. Before riding out with other drivers, learn the rules and safe operation of your bike on an open road. Practice makes perfect!
- You must wear the appropriate gear: Choose a leather or other reinforced jacket, gloves, full pants and over-the-ankle footwear. Today’s specially-designed jackets include rugged padding and breathable mesh for greater protection and comfort, even during warm summer days. Also, note that bright colors make it easier for drivers to see you. And don’t forget serious eye protection like a helmet visor or goggles. A bug or road debris in your eye is not only painful but can lead to a collision and serious injuries.
- You must learn how to drive defensively: Always be on the lookout for cars that suddenly change lanes, turn in front of you, or pull out from parking spots and side streets. Almost two-thirds of all collisions are caused by a driver not noticing a motorcycle, a problem made worse by epidemic levels of distracted driving. And unfortunately, riders are 28 times more likely to die in a crash than those in a motor vehicle.
Maintaining plenty of following distance is particularly important to a motorcyclist, both to ensure enough time to stop or to react to debris in the road. Never overtake or pass other vehicles in the same lane (known as lane-splitting). Keep both hands on your handlebars while driving. And don’t invite trouble by driving between two moving cars or on the shoulder to avoid a traffic jam. It goes without saying that you should never drive anything, let alone a motorcycle, under the influence.
Have You Been Injured? We Can Help.Even if you remember the basics and do everything right, collisions can still happen. If you’ve been in a motorcycle crash that resulted in serious injury, help from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is available. Discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer by contacting us today.