Despite traffic levels decreasing by 20% in 2020, it was a deadly year to be on the road. According to a report recently released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, motorcycle fatalities in 2020 jumped by nearly 25%, and overall traffic deaths increased by 6.6%.
This increase in fatalities follows a national trend, with motor vehicle deaths in the United States up by 24%, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC reports traffic fatalities are the highest they’ve been 13 years and the year-over-year increase is the highest jump in 96 years.
Whether caused by increased speeds due to lower traffic on the road, or other factors including impaired and distracted driving, the spike in fatalities is alarming. Some other alarming PA motor vehicle crash statistics from 2020 include:
- Total motorcycle crashes jumped from 2,968 to 3,256, a 9.7% increase.
- Total crashes caused by speeding, including motorcycles, went from 3,898 to 4,002, a 2.6% increase; fatalities caused by speeding increased by 16%.
- There were 224 fatalities on local roads in Pennsylvania in 2020, up from 186 in 2019, a 31% increase.
National Motorcycle Safety Month gives us an opportunity to remind motorcycle riders and four-wheel motorists about the importance of riding safely and sharing the road.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
If you ride a motorcycle, safety should always be the top priority. Novice and experienced riders should keep in mind the following safety tips:
- Always wear the proper gear. A motorcycle ride begins before you even sit on the bike. Before you head on your trip, make sure you have the proper gear ready, especially a proper helmet. Wearing a helmet can save your life. Other riding gear includes eye protection, a jacket, gloves, pants, and boots. Never wear shorts, open shoes, or clothing that can get caught in the wheels.
- Follow traffic rules. Obey speed limits and be aware of local traffic laws. Traveling too fast can increase the risk of a fatal crash, so ride safely.
- Ride alert and sober. Riding drowsy or impaired can be deadly. You can cause harm not only to yourself but to others on the road.
- Inspect your bike before each ride. Making sure your bike is in good condition is just as important as riding safely. Check the tires, headlight, taillight, and fluids to make sure everything is operating properly.
Motorcycle safety is a two-way street. All motorists are reminded to share the road with motorcyclists to reduce crashes and motorcycle deaths. Motorists can help by:
- Always checking your blind spots. Motorcycle accidents are often caused because drivers did not see them in their mirrors. Take your time before merging and allow for an extra few seconds to check your blind spots twice before changing lanes or making another maneuver.
- Be cautious when passing. As a driver, you can pass a motorcycle just like any other vehicle. Be cautious when passing, though, as the wind from your vehicle can cause a motorcycle to become unstable.
- Take a second look at left turns. Before making a left turn, take a second look to see if a motorcycle is approaching in the opposite direction. Many motorcycle deaths occur when a vehicle cuts off a motorcyclist while attempting a left turn.
- Use your turn signals. You should always use your turn signals, but it’s especially critical if there is a motorcyclist behind you. This can reduce the risk of a motorcyclist rear-ending your vehicle and avoid a pile-up.
- Be on alert at intersections. Crashes at intersections account for nearly 25% of all fatalities. Don’t rush through an intersection – follow all posted traffic signs and signals, look both ways, and proceed slowly out of the intersection.
If both riders and drivers follow these safety tips, we can work towards reducing the fatality rate of motorcycle crashes together.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Even if you ride safely, accidents can still happen. If you are a rider involved in an accident, you may be in shock and have an adrenaline rush. So, it is important to stay calm and follow these key steps after an accident.
- Move to safety. If you are able, get out of harm’s way. Since most accidents occur near other vehicles, you want to get to safety as soon as possible.
- Do not remove your gear. Your safety gear, especially your helmet, is designed to protect your neck and spine. Leave your gear on until the paramedics arrive.
- Call 911. The 911 operator will ask for details on your location and your condition. If you are unable to make the call and are conscious, ask loudly for someone else at the scene to call 911.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you consider your accident minor and you are able to stand and walk, still seek medical attention. Some accidents can cause internal injuries that are not easily identifiable. Plus, the adrenaline rushing through your body after an accident often masks the pain. Medical records are critical if you should need to file a personal injury claim.
- Take pictures and gather evidence. In every accident, it’s a good idea to take pictures and gather information to help determine the cause and who is potentially liable for injuries or repairs. Your insurance company will need the details to process a claim. Take notes and obtain a copy of the police report.
- Contact a lawyer. If you were injured in the accident, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Get A Fighter on Your Side
At the Law Offices of Dale E. Anstine, our priority is our clients. We have worked for motorcycle accident victims to help them get the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, reach out for a FREE consultation. Get a specialized motorcycle accident attorney on your side who has a full understanding of the complexities of personal injury claims in PA. While we hope you will not need us this riding season, we are here 24/7, and there is no fee unless we win for you.