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  • Lallande Law, PLC

Motorcycle Crash Statistics

Motorcycle use has increased dramatically in recent years.  In 1997 there were 3,826,373 registered motorcycles n the United States. Ten years later, in 2006, the number of registered motorcycles nearly doubled to 6,686,147. Rising expenses associated with automobile prices and fuel prices have encouraged many to trade their 4 wheels for 2 wheels. The greatest increase in motorcycle use has been in riders forty years and older.

M. Lawrence Lallande, the founder and principal of Lallande Law, PLC is a licensed motorcycle rider who rides motorcycles for commuting and recreational purposes. Mr. Lallande has successfully tried motorcycle crash cases to verdict and understands the causes and dynamics of motorcycle crashes.

Motorcyclists are very often the victims of careless drivers of other types of motor vehicles. According to statistics compiled by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 6.2 million motorcyclists accounting for 3% of all registered vehicles on U. S. roads in 2005. Motorcycles accounted for only 4% of miles driven in 2005.  In 2006 a motorcyclist was 37 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers of other vehicles, and 8 times more likely to be injured than drivers of other vehicles.

Motorcycle injuries and deaths have increased steadily as the number of motorcycles has increased.  In 1997 there were 3,826,373 registered motorcycles. That year there were 53,000 motorcycle injuries and 2,116 deaths with a fatality rate of 55.30 per 100,000 registered vehicles. Just nine years later, in 2006, there were 6,686,147 registered vehicles, 88,000 motorcycle injuries, 4,837 deaths with a fatality rate of 72.34 per 100,000 registered vehicles. Of note is that in 1997 riders 40 years old or older comprised about one-third of the deaths (699 of 2,116). However, in 2007 almost half of the deaths are attributed to riders 40 years old or older (2,537 of 5,154).

In 2007, 40% of motorcycle deaths resulted when the motorcyclist was going straight and the driver of the other vehicle was turning left.  That same year, crashes where both vehicles were going straight (including the driver of the other vehicle making an unsafe pass in the opposite direction of travel as the motorcycle) accounted for 27% of the crashes.

California is second in the nation, behind only Florida for the number of motorcycle deaths. In 2007 there were 495 California motorcycle deaths, nearly one tenth the national total of 4,833. In 2007, 50% of all motorcycle deaths involved fatal crashes with another type of motor vehicle that was in transit.  Of these collisions, only 5% were motorcycles struck in the rear, while 78% involved motorcycles struck in the front.

Motorcycle accidents can occur for many reasons but the most often heard statement at the crash scene is:  “The motorcycle came out of nowhere; I just did not see him”. This statement defies logic and physics. Motorcycles and their riders are subject to the same laws of physics as the rest of our planet – they don’t magically appear from thin air.  Drivers of other vehicles often do not see motorcyclist because they are inattentive, distracted by electronic devices such as cell phones, participating in distracting activities such as eating, or are too hurried to carefully observe their surroundings before making changes in direction or speed.  The fact that motorcycles are less conspicuous than other vehicles is added to driver inattention in contributing to crashes.  Motorcycles are simply smaller and therefore an inattentive driver is less likely to see and perceive the motorcycle. Furthermore, the smaller “target” (visual) value of a motorcycle makes it more difficult for drivers to evaluate the speed of the motorcycle, particularly when the motorcycle is approaching the other driver from the opposite direction.

There are many in the non-motorcycle public that consider motorcycles unsafe and therefore believe that riders must be careless. This is a myth. Motorcycle riders are aware that they are unprotected and vulnerable and ride accordingly.  The reality is that most motorcycle crashes involve short trips associated with errands such as shopping. Most motorcycle crashes do not involve high rates of speed. The median motorcycle pre-crash speed is 29.8 mph with a motorcycle speed at crash of 21.5 miles per hour.  If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries or death in a motorcycle crash, Lallande Law, PLC has the knowledge, motorcycle crash expertise, experience, track record, to tirelessly pursue justice and results on your behalf.


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