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Motorcycle deaths rose in 2015

The popularity of motorcycle riding is tempered by very sobering news: there was an eight percent increase in fatalities related to motorcycle accidents in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycles made up three percent of all registered vehicles in this country in 2015 and were responsible for only 0.6 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. However, the death rate for bikers was six times the rate for passenger car occupants.

Two years ago, 4,976 motorcyclists were killed in crashes in the United States. This was an increase from the 4,594 fatalities in 2014. Fatalities increased by three percent from 2006 to 2015. New York riders suffered 144 motorcycle deaths in 2015.

Motorcyclists comprised 14 percent of all traffic deaths, four percent of all vehicle injuries, 17 percent of all driver and passenger vehicle occupant deaths and four percent of all occupant injuries in this country. However, the number of injuries for motorcyclists declined three percent from 92,000 to 88,000 from 2014 through 2015.

The most harmful event for the 5,076 motorcycles involved in deadly crashes was collisions with vehicles engaged in transport. This comprised 54 percent of these accidents. There were 2,448 two-vehicle fatal accidents with a motorcycle and another vehicle. In two-vehicle collisions, 74 percent of the motorcycles had frontal collisions. Only seven percent of these vehicles were struck in the rear.

The NHTSA also estimated that motorcycle helmets saved 1,772 bikers in 2015. An additional 740 lives may have been saved if all motorcyclists wore helmets. In New York, riders not wearing helmets comprised nine percent of all fatalities.

Motorcyclists, given their lack of structural protection, are especially vulnerable to other vehicles operated by distracted, negligent or drunk drivers. Victims of these accidents may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other losses.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Traffic Safety Facts," Accessed April 21, 2017

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