Florida weather is perfect for plenty of recreational activities, from boating and biking to fishing and hunting. With many months of warm weather, residents can often enjoy their favorite activities year round. It’s no surprise then that Florida is a motorcyclist’s dream. With plenty of days of great weather a year, it’s easy to get your bike on the road. Along with this perfect motorcycle climate, however, comes an increased risk of motorcycle accidents.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does an annual Motorcycle and Bicycle safety campaign. The truth is that we may need to focus on motorcycle safety statistics even more frequently. Florida leads the nation in motorcycle fatalities (as of the most recent numbers released in 2017).
Currently, there are approximately 1,271,360 Floridians riding a motorcycle with a motorcycle endorsement or Class E license, and that doesn’t include visitors who come to the state to enjoy the scenery as they ride. That’s a lot of motorcyclists. And plenty of reason to focus on the safety of our friends and neighbors.
FLHSMV Motorcycle Safety Statistics
Fewer than 3% of traffic accidents in Hillsborough County in 2016 involved a motorcycle. However, motorcycle accidents led to almost 22% of all traffic fatalities in the county that year.
Hillsborough County experienced 741 motorcycle accidents in 2016, which is actually a decrease over the previous year. While 2016 held 32 fewer crashes, there were four more fatalities than in 2015. 19 more fatalities in 2014.
While Hillsborough County saw a decrease in motorcycle accidents in 2016, Florida as a whole saw a 1.27% increase.
Unfortunately, the Traffic Crash Facts Annual Report does not detail how these traffic accidents happened. While the report discusses different conditions, it does not break down these variables for motorcyclists in particular. For example, the report states that 795 fatal accidents occurred because the motor vehicle was operated carelessly or negligently, but it does not differentiate between vehicle types. Hopefully, the state will do another motorcycle safety statistics report that highlights different factors affecting riders and endangering their safety.
NHTSA Report on Helmet Use
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a summary titled “Lives and Costs Saved by Motorcycle Helmets, 2016.” The statistics in the report reference injuries and fatalities of motorcyclists nationwide between 2011 and 2016. The ratio between injuries and fatalities shows the helmeted and the unhelmeted during their accidents. It is believed that this ratio provides an insight into the lives saved by helmet use. Therefore, if there is a higher ratio of injuries to fatalities, then more people have injuries as opposed to killed. When the ratio is low, the action (in this case, not wearing a helmet) led to an increase in fatalities.
In 2015, the helmeted ratio was 18.56, while the unhelmeted ratio was 13.41.
This information is then extrapolated to come up with a number for how many lives saved if they wore a helmet. NHTSA uses the established “effectiveness” of helmets for preventing death, which is 37% for operators and 41% for passengers. In Florida, 108 people died in 2016 from being in an accident without a helmet.
Helmets are the most effective piece of safety gear for motorcyclists. Florida does not have a 100% helmet use law, exempting drivers and passengers who are 21 or over. However, helmets are proven to save lives and reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Statistics can help Floridians make more informed decisions when it comes to driving and operating a motorcycle. Here are few common sense tips for safely operating a motorcycle:
- Protect your noggin, wear a helmet. If you have the appropriate insurance coverage and are over 21, you can ride without a helmet. However, the benefits of wearing a helmet are clear.
- Be attentive at intersections. Many motorcycle accidents occur at intersections when another vehicle fails to see a motorcycle and turns into it.
- Ride defensively—note where other drivers are and pay attention to anyone driving erratically or merging without looking. Steer clear of these people.
- Never ride drunk. It’s never ok to operate any motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Motorcycle accidents can be deadly, don’t increase your chances of having an accident by drinking and driving.
Safety Tips for Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists
Whenever we are on the road, we have a responsibility to abide by traffic laws. A driver’s license is a privilege and in order to maintain it, we must follow the basic rules that come with it. It’s necessary to harken back to the golden rule and treat others respectfully. Here are a few safety tips for sharing the road with motorcyclists:
- Pay attention at intersections. Before turning left, check for oncoming traffic. If there’s a tree, wait a moment to ensure there isn’t a motorcycle or bicycle about to cross. Many accidents occur when a vehicle is turning left at an intersection and they fail to see an oncoming vehicle.
- Give motorcycles the space they deserve. Motorcycles are just like any other vehicle, they deserve an entire lane. It is not acceptable—or legal—to share a lane with a motorcycle. Doing so endangers the life of the motorcyclist. When you pass a motorcycle too closely, the gust of wind that your vehicle creates could throw the motorcyclist off.
- Never tailgate a motorcycle. A motorcycle can stop more quickly, leaving you with insufficient time to stop. By easing up on the throttle, a motorcycle can slow down without using its brakes. Its brake lights won’t give you a warning that they are slowing down. A good rule of thumb is to give any motorcyclist a four-second buffer.
Contact an Accident Attorney Today
At Winters & Yonker, we aim to support our Tampa neighbors. We understand that accidents happen despite our best efforts. If injured because of another driver’s actions, the civil court system may help you find the justice you deserve. An accident can sidetrack your life, leaving you with a mountain of bills, lost wages, and more. While you’re recovering, let us fight for you. If you have a valid claim, we’ll do our best to get you the compensation you need. Contact our motorcycle accident lawyers today.
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