Florida Ranks First for Motorcycle Fatalities
Last year, WCTV.tv stirred up a bit of controversy when it reported Florida was the worst state in the nation for motorcycle fatalities. That story contained a press release from the American Automobile Association, more commonly known as AAA, which relied on statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make its assertion. According to NHTSA’s full report, there were 467 riders killed in Florida, the most in the nation, ahead of even more populous warm-weather states like California (435) and Texas (457). NHTSA also reported that 29 percent of the motorcycle operators killed had blood alcohol content, or BAC, over the legal limit, just slightly above the national average of 28 percent. Helmet use was also an issue: 49 percent of those killed were known not to have been wearing a helmet, exceeding the national average of 40 percent.
However, the story, though published in 2016, relied on 2013 data. We naturally wondered where Florida stood with the most up-to-date data available, so we recently visited NHTSA’s website and drew the latest report with data from 2015.
What we found, unfortunately, was not encouraging. In 2015, 577 motorcycle riders were killed in Florida, a staggering increase of 24 percent. The state pulled even farther away from California (449) and Texas (422). The percentage of riders killed with an illegally high BAC was down only slightly to 27 percent, matching the national average for that year. Riders killed while not wearing a helmet declined slightly to 47 percent, still above the national average, which dropped to 39 percent.
Clearly, Florida has a problem with motorcycle safety, and it’s going to take cooperation from motorists and riders to solve the problem. WCTV’s 2016 article contained AAA safety tips that are worth reprinting here:
Safety Tips for Motorists:
- Respect motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are vehicles too and have the same privileges as an automobile, so be sure to give them ample room.
- Look and listen. Even if a motorcycle is loud, don’t expect to hear it. Actively look for motorcycles in traffic.
- Leave room. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the motorcyclist’s. Uneven terrain, wet roads, and heavy traffic often require a motorcycle rider to react and maneuver differently than automobiles.
- Be aware. Take extra caution when making a left-hand turn, because most automobile-versus-motorcycle crashes occur during left-hand turns.
- Don’t drive distracted. A driver who takes their eyes off the road for two seconds doubles their risk of getting into a crash.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists:
- Wear safety gear. Helmets that meet a high protection standard, eyewear, closed-toe footwear and protective clothing reduce your risk of injury or death in a crash. Remember, the only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.
- Be visible. Keep headlights, marker and taillights on at dusk and dark or rainy weather. Wear bright clothing or put reflective strips on your bike to be more visible to other motorists. Avoid being in the blind spots of cars and trucks by following three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
- Use sound judgment. Avoid weaving between lanes while riding. Be sure to use your signals and stick to the speed limit.
- Get proper training. Completing a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a better rider, but save you money on your motorcycle insurance.
At Largey Law, we represent victims of motorcycle accidents who have suffered catastrophic injuries. We’ve seen the devastation these accidents can cause, so we urge all motor vehicle operators to do their part to improve traffic safety throughout Florida.
If have been injured in motorcycle accident, trust Largey Law to fight aggressively for justice. To schedule an appointment with an experienced lawyer at our firm, call 352.508.1485 or contact our office online.