Motorcycle accidents are often deadly. This sentiment is well-known throughout the motorcycle riding community in Pennsylvania, but do you know how often fatal motorcycle accidents happen? Unfortunately, the number of fatal motorcycle crashes is on the rise in our state.
Losing a loved one is never an easy experience. However, if your family member was unexpectedly killed in a motorcycle accident, you might be dealing with additional challenges that complicate the grieving process. For guidance on all matters regarding filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, please reach out to Stapp Law, LLC to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.
Pennsylvania Motorcycle Statistics
Pennsylvania is an obvious choice for many motorcyclists who are hoping to travel the open road while enjoying the beautiful, natural scenery. With four distinct seasons and multiple state and federal-designated scenic byways, our state offers unrivaled beauty and opportunities to both local motorcyclists and those who are simply passing through. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at motorcycle statistics for our state.
According to PennDOT, there were 9,119,280 licensed drivers in the state of Pennsylvania as of 2021. This is the number of people who hold a valid Class D driver’s license, which gives the holder the legal authorization to operate motor vehicles that do not require a commercial or motorcycle license. Compared to the number of licensed drivers, PennDOT reports that there were only 807,444 licensed motorcyclists that same year.
Motorcyclists represent a relatively small number of all motorists. With fewer motorcyclists on the road, many drivers fall out of the habit of looking for motorcycles, which are smaller and harder to spot than other vehicles. This puts many motorcyclists at a heightened risk for an accident.
Between 2016 and 2019, motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania were on a downward trend, decreasing from 3,454 collisions in 2016 to only 2,977 in 2019. That number increased sharply in 2020, with PennDOT recording 3,398 motorcycle accidents that year.
Although the total number of motorcycle accidents in 2020 is similar to the number of crashes in 2016, it is important to note that there were far fewer vehicles on the road in 2020. That was the year that COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect, which saw many people working from home and cutting back on social activities that required vehicle travel.
The increase in the number of motorcycle accidents is concerning. Compared to drivers and passengers traveling in passenger vehicles, motorcyclists have far fewer protections in a collision and therefore suffer much more severe injuries. These injuries include:
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Road rash
- Broken bones
- Jaw injuries
- Amputated limbs
Anyone who has been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident should reach out to Stapp Law, LLC as soon as possible. We’ll schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options for recovering the necessary compensation.
Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
While many people enjoy riding motorcycles for the sense of freedom they offer, there is no denying that they can also be dangerous. Unlike passenger vehicles, which have seat belts, air bags, and a myriad of other safety features to protect occupants, motorcycles offer virtually no protection in the event of an accident.
Fatal motorcycle crashes also increased in 2020, following a similar downward trend starting in 2016. The following information details the number of fatal crashes per year in our state:
- 2016 – 192
- 2017 – 185
- 2018 – 164
- 2019 – 174
- 2020 – 217
Despite motorcyclists making up less than 9% of all licensed drivers, motorcycles were involved in approximately 20% of all fatal crashes and around 3% of total crashes in 2020. Motorcycles are involved in relatively fewer accidents than other types of vehicles, but these crashes tend to be much more severe, resulting in fatal accidents more often.
The Causes of Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcyclists maintain two licenses—a Class D driver’s license and a motorcycle license. Both of these licenses require motorists to dedicate time to study, conduct on-the-road practice with a licensed driver, and display their abilities in a road test. Although anyone has the capacity to be a poor driver, motorcycle riders in Williamsport, PA often display superior driving and handling skills compared to other motor vehicle drivers.
For this reason, driver error is a main cause of fatal motorcycle accidents, including:
- Texting or using social media while driving
- Taking videos or pictures behind the wheel
- Talking on the phone (even when using a hands-free device)
- Drinking and driving
- Failing to look for motorcycles
- Violating a motorcycle’s right of way
- Merging lanes or turning without looking
- Braking unexpectedly
The sad reality is that many drivers simply do not look for or consider motorcyclists. This leaves motorcycle riders vulnerable to the negligent or reckless behind-the-wheel behaviors of other drivers on the road.
Pennsylvania Helmet Laws
Pennsylvania state law requires motorcyclists to wear a helmet unless:
- They are age 21 or older, AND
- Have two years of experience riding motorcycles, OR
- Have completed a PennDOT-approved motorcycle safety course.
Stapp Law, LLC recommends that all motorcyclists wear a helmet every time they ride. Even if you are over the age of 21, have the requisite riding experience, or have completed a safety course, you cannot control the actions of other drivers. If you are not wearing a helmet and are struck by a negligent or distracted driver, a helmet is your best chance of surviving the collision.
Powerful Advocates for Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones
The attorneys at Stapp Law, LLC pride themselves on the compassionate legal guidance we provide to Pennsylvania families. When we meet with those who have lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle accident, we understand that we are meeting with families who are going through one of the most profoundly difficult periods of their lives. In all that we do, we approach fatal motorcycle accident cases with the care and dignity these legal matters deserve.
If your family is ready to move forward with a wrongful death claim, contact our Williamsport, PA law office to schedule your free consultation.
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