In a scenic state such as North Carolina, riding a motorcycle is a favorite pastime for many people. The problem is that motorcyclists are far more vulnerable to injury or death than occupants of passenger vehicles and trucks.

A recent report by a nonprofit organization shows that motorcycle fatalities decreased in 2017 over the previous year, which is an encouraging sign. Compared to the deaths of passenger car occupants, however, the number is still alarmingly high. Consequently, efforts continue on several fronts to keep the incidents of motorcycle injuries and fatalities down.

About the report

Released in May 2018, the report from the Governors Highway Safety Association showed that almost 5,000 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2017. However, this is nearly 300 fewer than in 2016. The GHSA report cautions that motorcycle fatalities tend to fluctuate from year to year and that the reduction in 2017 deaths might in part have been due to bad weather, including hurricanes.

Older riders playing a roll

People aged 40 and older are now the largest group of motorcycle riders in the country. In 2016, the average age of those killed was 43, but many motorcyclists are senior citizens over the age of 60. Because the skills of new riders are not yet second nature, and their reflexes are slower than when they were younger, older riders are encouraged to take motorcycle safety classes before heading out on the road.

Other precautions

Innovations in safety gear, such as apparel with build-in airbags and helmets equipped with rear vision capabilities, are helping to prevent devastating injuries or death. In addition, the GHSA report points out that many states including North Carolina now have laws requiring the installation of ignition interlock devices on motorcycles. These devices, which prevent motorcycles from starting if testing confirms alcohol on the operator’s breath, are proving effective against impaired riding.

Riders and operators who sustain injuries in a crash caused by a motorist should focus on recovery, but explore their legal options. The law entitles victims of negligent drivers to compensation for the injuries they suffer.