motorcycle helmet

Motorcycle Helmets Should Be Mandatory, IIHS Says

While there are stringent helmet laws in place, the insurance institute says there are other ways to reduce the number of motorcyclist deaths.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycling is gaining significant popularity, however, the fatalities of the accidents are also on the rise. Crash statistics suggest that by adopting some measures, the safety of riders can be ensured.

Read on to delve into the stats on crashes, helmet-mandatory rules, antilock braking systems, and more to bring down the rate of accidents. You can even consult on the legal aspects with an Athens, GA wrongful death lawyer.

A Closer Look at the Growing Motorcycle Crashes

Statistics indicate that in 2021, nearly 6,000 motorists died in the US, which was a 21% increase over those in 2019 and triple the fatality rate as compared to 1997.

Considering these accidents are growing at an alarming rate, the insurance institute says that motorists are not doing this for fun, while in reality, they are looking for an economic mode of transportation.

Eric Teoh, Director of Statistical Services at IIHS, writes, “Motorcyclists are often labeled as risk-takers, so perhaps that’s why our society continues to accept this loss of life. It’s true that riding involves extra risk compared with driving passenger vehicles, but it’s possible to reduce the risk without diminishing the joys and thrills that define motorcycling,”

In lieu of protecting the motorists, the first step is to mandate helmets. At present, only 18 states in the U.S. require motorists, regardless of their age, to wear helmets. While 30 states have set low age requirements emphasizing children to wear helmets, there are 3 states with no helmet laws.

According to IIHS, using proper helmets reduces the probability of accidents by almost 40% and the risk of brain injury by 66%. Besides, the data comparison between states having helmet mandates and those that don’t have is not consistent. We can illustrate this with an example by comparing two states.

In 2021, Texas reported 496 fatalities, which requires 20 years old and younger to wear helmets. This brings us to a rate of 13 deaths for every 10,000 motorcycles registered in Texas. In contrast, California, with mandatory helmet laws, experienced 552 deaths in 2021, which is a rate of 5.8 deaths for every 10,000 motorcycles registered.

With 850,000 motorcycles registered in California, the rate of death compared to the number of riders is much lower in California than in Texas. An Athens, GA wrongful death lawyer could give you more insight into the legal side of it.

Easier Options To Slow Down

Similar to the mandates for trucks and passenger vehicles, the IIHS believes that for motorcycles, the antilock brakes must be made compulsory to reduce the level of accidents. The institute says that there is a strong customer demand for ABS, and some governing bodies, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, and India, have mandated ABS for motorcycles.

While some argue that ABS may disillusion the riders with regard to safety in terms of braking distance, IIHS says that there’s a lot of evidence that ABS improves motorcyclist’s safety.

Focus on Visibility

Advanced Driver-assistance systems (ADAS) like Mercedez-Benz bragging of its SAE Level 3 Semi-autonomous Driving Program and Honda prototyping the ADAS technology for its new passenger vehicles. That said, there’s been a lot of criticism around the efficiency of the ADAS systems. Tesla’s SAE Level 2 Auto Pilot has been found to have wrongly identified motorcycles as cars in a distance due to their single tail light, resulting in serious collisions in California.

Studies suggest that except for Subaru and General Motors, two-wheeled vehicles aren’t correctly identified in safety systems. To this, IIHS says that with automatic emergency braking soon to be federally mandated, motorcycles will get included in braking calibration. At present, there’s no plan to include motorcycles.

Additionally, it has been found that most motorcycle crashes occur when a vehicle turns left in front of them, and the driver says they didn’t notice the biker. However, technology brings tools like cameras and sensors that assist in the left turn when the driver signals. IIHS suggests that manufacturers incorporate these alert systems into their design to avert collisions.

Drivers Must Be Careful

Finally, the institute also stresses the responsibility that rests with the riders. While the thought of a motorcycle may excite them, they must take it easy and stick to lower speed limits. Maintaining low yet consistent speed offers more reaction time and provides a safe distance even if you face something all of a sudden.

Teoh writes, “As they enjoy the thrills of the road, I encourage riders to avoid underestimating what could go wrong. “Even the best motorcyclist can’t control the actions of other road users, so it’s essential that riders avoid speeding and alcohol impairment and protect themselves.”


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