As hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts come roaring into Florida for the 75th annual Daytona Bike Week this month, the importance of safety must be underscored. motorcycle1

The most recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on motorcycle accidents, injuries and deaths reveals Florida has more motorcycle deaths than anywhere else in the country. The total number of motorcyclists killed in the state in 2013 was 467. The only other states that came close to that were California, with 435 motorcycle deaths, and Texas, with 457. Those states have twice the population of Florida.

What’s more, while motorcyclists accounted for just 7 percent of licensed motorists in Florida, they accounted for one-fifth of motor vehicle deaths. 

Exacerbating the issue is the fact that Florida does not require motorcycle helmets for 21-and-over riders, lending many a false sense of security. The motorcycle helmet law in Florida was repealed in 2000, with the caveat that riders needed to have adequate medical insurance. Just one year after the the law was repealed, there was a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of motorcycle occupant deaths.

It’s a troubling trend that has unfortunately continued.

A recent survey by AAA Consumer Pulse revealed almost 1 in 5 motorcyclists don’t have auto insurance for their bike, and fully a third in Florida don’t believe they should be required to wear helmets. One in seven do not wear them on a regular basis.

Every motorcycle death has a reported economic cost to society of $1.48 million, which includes medical expenses, emergency service costs, insurance administration costs, workplace losses, property damage, loss of productivity and legal and court costs. That means in 2013 alone, Florida’s economic losses for motorcycle accident deaths – not including those who survived – was more than $691 million.

Our injury lawyers do understand that helmet use is a controversial issue among riders, who say it flies in the face of the free-ride spirit. And to be clear: The decision not to wear a helmet will not reduce the potential damages awarded in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Still, it’s important to note that motorcycle helmet use is effective in reducing the risk of brain injury and fatality. Those who do wear helmets have a 73 percent lower risk of death than those who do not and an 85 percent reduction in the risk of serious, severe and critical injuries.

Another serious issue among motorcyclists: Alcohol impairment. Almost 30 percent of the motorcyclists who died in 2013 in Florida had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher. Thirty-four percent had a BAC of 0.01 or higher.

Motorcyclists who died in nighttime crashes were four times more likely to be impaired by alcohol than those killed in daytime collisions.

This is deeply concerning because motorcyclists, perhaps even more than other drivers, have to be alert and drive defensively. The recent AAA survey indicated 57 percent of drivers are concerned that they won’t be able to see a motorcyclist until it’s too late to avoid a crash.

Bike Week in Daytona is expected to draw some 500,000 motorcyclists over the course of 10 days, from March 4 through 13th. There will be a host of shows, contests and rallies, as well as performances by the Charlie Daniels Band and the Marshall Tucker Band.

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Fla. has the most motorcycle fatalities in the nation, March 2, 2016, By Bruce Hamilton, The Morning Show Anchor, News4Jax