According to the U.S.National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,motorcyclists’ risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than an occupant in an automobile. In 2007, 5,154 motorcyclists were killed nationwide – 38 in West Virginia.
- Dangerous Left Turns:The most frequent impact scenario – forty percent (40%) of the crashes – involved the other vehicle turning left in front of the oncoming motorcycle while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle.
- Dangerous Intersections:Most crashes occur at intersections, where the at-fault driver does not see the cycle until impact.
- Dangerous Lack of Visibility: In multiple vehicle accidents, lack of visibility of the cycle is most often a contributing factor, with glare or other vehicles obstructing the at-fault driver’s view. In two-thirds of multiple vehicle accidents with motorcycles, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle’s right of way and caused the crash.
- Dangerous Practices: The likelihood of injury is extremely high in motorcycle accidents-98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single-vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in serious injury and death. Riders without helmets sustained a 600% greater rate of traumatic brain injury than riders wearing helmets.
- Dangerous Reaction Time: Since thetypical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance actions, the cyclist should use every means to ensure he or she is visible to other drivers. The useof motorcycle headlamps in daylight and the wearing of highly visible yellow, orange, or bright red jackets can also significantly reduce accident involvement.
NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,784 motorcyclists’ lives in 2007 and that 800 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets. The state of West Virginia requires that all motorcyclists wear shatter-resistant eye protection and a helmet that conforms to federally approved safety standards.