Summary: Compared to car accidents, the percentage of fatalities in motorcycle-related collisions is 28 times higher. Motorcycles provide less protection and cause more serious injuries than motor vehicle accidents. While helmets can prevent hundreds of deaths in motorcyclists each year, far too many motorcyclists are injured or killed on the road. Empower yourself with the causes of motorcycle-related crashes and discover your options if you’ve been injured in Kentucky.
Bikers can find a certain freedom in cruising down the road, but there’s no question that motorcycle accidents are incredibly dangerous for the driver. Without the protection of a car around them, motorcyclists are vulnerable to more serious injuries, which can lead to more fatalities. Just how do the two compare?
In 2017, the fatality rate for motorcyclists was 59.34 per 100,000 registered vehicles. For passenger cars, the rate was almost six times lower, at 10.05 per 100,000 registered vehicles.
According to the Departement of Transportation, these rates are even more staggering when you compare the number of fatalities for the number of miles traveled. For motorcycles, there was an average of 25.67 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled. For cars, the rate is 0.94 fatalities for every 100 million miles traveled. That means the rate is over 27 times higher for motorcyclists.
How do motorcycle collisions compare to passenger car collisions? Let’s take a look:
Limited Protection: Comparing Motorcycles to Cars
Motorcyclists are much more exposed in the event of a collision than drivers of passenger vehicles, which can amplify the severity of injuries sustained in an accident. More than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle collisions result in the injury or death of the motorcycle operator– far higher than the number of injuries sustained in a passenger car accident
Motorcycles provide no head injury protection. Many motorcyclists are ejected from the motorcycle following a collision. There are inherent differences between a car and a motorcycle that makes the motorcycle much more dangerous in the event of an accident.
Motorcycles aren’t as “crashworthy” as automobiles, which have all kinds of safety measures like door beams, a roof, airbags, and seatbelts. They also weigh less, have less bulk, and are less stable than their 4-wheeled counterparts. Sure, motorcycles are more agile and may be able to swerve out of the way quickly in an emergency, but there are far fewer protections afforded to motorcyclists than passengers and motorists in cars.
The Importance of Safety: Wearing a Helmet
When comparing automobile and motorcycle accidents, it’s important to take a look at one particular factor that can make a life-and-death difference in motorcycle collisions. Since motorcycles offer operators so much less protection, the importance of wearing a helmet cannot be underestimated.
If you’re planning to hop on a motorcycle at any point, it’s advisable to wear a helmet. There’s truth in the moniker that helmets save lives– and there are numbers to back it up. In 2016, if all motorcyclists who were involved in fatal crashes had worn a helmet, it’s estimated that 802 lives could have been saved, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that helmets saved the lives of 1,807 motorcyclists and that an additional 750 lives could have been saved if all motorcycle riders had worn helmets.
Helmets don’t just help prevent fatalities in motorcycle-related collisions, they also can reduce the gravity of injuries incurred in these collisions. In another study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it was discovered that unhelmeted riders in Wisconsin sustained cervical spine injuries twice as often as helmet-wearing riders in the state.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
How do Kentucky motorcycle accidents happen? If we know the reasons that these accidents happen, we can take extra precautions to prevent them from happening when we are on the road, both as automotive operators and motorcycle riders.
- Head-on collisions between a motorcycle and a car: These accidents are very likely to be fatal for the motorcyclist.
- Cars making left-hand turns: 42 percent of accidents involving a car and a motorcycle happen when a car is making a left-hand turn, when the motorcycle is going straight through the intersection, passing a car, or trying to overtake a car.
- Motorcycle lane splitting: Motorcyclists often attempt lane splitting in stalled or slow traffic; driving between two lanes of moving cars.
- Motorcyclists speeding or alcohol use: Approximately half of all accidents involving motorcycles are caused by alcohol or speeding. In fact, 25 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit, which is a higher percentage than any other type of vehicle.
- Collisions between motorcyclists and stationary objects: Motorcyclists colliding with fixed objects account for 25 percent of motorcycle collision fatalities, compared to only 18 percent of car collision fatalities.
- Road hazards: Because they are smaller in size and less stable, motorcyclists are more likely to be affected by road hazards like slick spots, potholes, uneven lane heights, unexpected objects in the road, and pavement irregularities.
Motorcycle Collisions in Kentucky
Whether you’re riding a motorcycle or driving a car, it’s important to know that Kentucky is a “choice no-fault” state, which means that each driver is responsible for insurance that will cover compensation for their medical bills, regardless of who is at fault. In Kentucky, this is called “personal injury protection,” (PIP) which will pay up to $10,000 for medical bills, lost wages, and other similar expenses.
Unlike with cars, PIP is not automatically added to motorcycles. It can be added, but is typically included only as an option. If you own a bike, it is a good idea to add this coverage.
Regardless of what kind of insurance coverage you have in Kentucky, if your accident injury meets the threshold, it becomes exempt from no-fault rules. In Kentucky, the thresholds are as follows:
- The accident results in medical bills totaling over $1,000
- The accident led to permanent disfigurement, fracture of a weight-bearing bone, compound, compressed, or displaced fracture of any bone, any permanent injury, or any permanent loss of a body function
In these cases, injured parties have the right to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. These include all medical expenses, lost wages, future lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering.
If You’ve Been Injured in a Collision
Following a motorcycle or car accident, you can be left with severe, and even life-altering injuries. In these instances, you need an advocate who can represent your needs and help you move forward.
At McCoy & Sparks, we always have your best interest at heart. Your injuries and needs are unique, which means your case should be unique too. We’ll work closely with you to determine the right course of action for you. We’ve successfully settled and litigated countless motorcycle cases across Central Kentucky. If you want to hire a firm with experience with this type of case, look no further.
If you’ve been injured in a collision, we want to help. Contact us today, or give us a call at 1-844-4KY-WINS.
Trust McCoy & Sparks – Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Nelson County
Long recognized as one of Central Kentucky’s best law firms for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results. Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draw upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions. You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to 1-844-4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.