Last year, approximately 4,500 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in California and across the country. This means that about one out of every seven people who died on U.S. roads did so in motorcycle-related crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are about 30 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident than drivers and passengers are to die in car crashes.
What is perhaps the most troubling about this data is that overall passenger vehicle fatalities have decreased by 5 percent in the last 15 years or so. During that same period, however, motorcycle accident deaths have more than doubled, with an estimated annual cost of about $16 billion. Clearly, state and federal efforts to reduce and prevent motorcycle crashes have been less than successful. So what can be done to prevent motorcycle accidents in San Diego and across the entire United States?
Between 2006 and 2010, the NHTSA awarded nearly $46 million in motorcycle safety grants to various U.S. states. Under the directive of Congress, those grants were only permitted to be used for programs encouraging driver awareness of motorcycles and for safety training programs for motorcyclists.
States were not allowed to use federal funds to advocate for increased helmet use or to implement helmet laws and requirements. Now, however, that aim may be changing.
Recent studies have reportedly found that different approaches to motorcycle safety awareness and education may do more to prevent motorcycle accident fatalities than current methods. Those approaches include increasing helmet use and adding additional police enforcement.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will change its grant guidelines to allow states to advocate for helmet use. We will continue to update our personal injury blog with any new developments.
Source: Detroit News, “GAO: Give states more flexibility to reduce motorcycle deaths,” David Shepardson, Nov. 28, 2012