A startling statistic out of Rochester reflects a warning trend to all motorcyclists: Accidents for bikers are on the rise, in our region and the nation as a whole.

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reported on the local and national trend in the recent story, “Motorcycle deaths climb this year in Rochester area.” The story has both anecdotal and statistical evidence supporting this dangerous and tragic trend.

The Affeldts, Brad and Beth, a couple in their 40’s, were mentioned in the story. They were responsible people, whose teenage daughter says she frequently kidded about the danger of their “mid-life crisis” motorcycle. They were both seriously injured on a 5-minute ride for ice cream last week. Brad lost a foot and Beth was in an induced coma with brain swelling.

The Affeldts’ accident is one of at least eight very serious motorcycle accidents in the area this year. According to the news story, that’s nearly double the typical annual rate of 3 to 4 very serious motorcycle accidents annually in the region. It also matches a country-wide trend, a climb in motorcycle fatalities over a 10-year period, as tracked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

What’s causing the extra motorcycle accidents?

  1. Lack of experience: There are more motorcycles on the road, and the bikers driving them have less training, according to riding instructors.
  2. A longer riding season: Spring was very warm, so more bikers were out earlier.
  3. More motorcycles on the roads: Registrations for motorcycles are up as much as 30 percent in some  New York state counties. And tying back into the lack of experience factor, at least 1 in 5 of the new riders have zero training.
  4. Preventable errors: intoxicated drivers and bikers, operator error, and careless car drivers have all contributed to area motorcycle accidents this year.

Facts and figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

This sidebar of NHTSA statistics was included with the Rochester story. There are some very sobering numbers in here:

  • In 2008, 5,290 motorcyclists were killed nationwide — up 2 percent from 2007; 96,000 were injured.
  • Helmets saved an estimated 1,829 motorcyclists’ lives in 2008.
  • Motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash.
  • Motorcycles made up nearly 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2007.
  • The fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2007 was 6 times that for passenger car occupants.
  • In 2008, 2,387 two-vehicle fatal crashes involved a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. In 41 percent of these crashes, the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing or overtaking the vehicle.
  • One of four motorcycle riders in fatal crashes in 2008 had an invalid license.
  • Forty-three percent of the 2,291 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2008 had blood alcohol levels at or over the legal limit, as did 64 percent of those killed in single-vehicle crashes on weekend nights.

What to take away from this

Going strictly by the numbers, there are some simple precautions that could make a difference in your safety on a motorcycle.

  1. Get trained to ride your motorcycle: Visit the Motorcyle Safety Foundation web site to find an affiliated training program in the area.  They have classes for new and experienced riders
  2. Be particularly careful around intersections: More than 40 percent of motorcycle/car accidents occurred when a car turned left at an intersection. Drivers can’t be trusted to see you.
  3. Don’t drink and ride your motorcycle. I can’t emphasize this enough. We hear it all the time, but it is still the root cause of more than 40 percent of motorcycle accidents with no other vehicle involved.

Thanks for reading, and ride safe!

ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Accident Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Phone: (607)733-8866
Fax: (607)732-6062
Email: info@zifflaw.com