Massachusetts and Motorcycle Safety
It’s springtime in Massachusetts. This means Red Sox, students going wild, and motorcycles coming out of storage. Unfortunately, there were 4,955 people killed on motorcycles in the US in 2008. There were 41 Massachusetts motorcycle fatalities in crashes in that year.
While motorcycles make up only 0.4% of vehicle miles traveled, per mile traveled, motorcyclists were 37 times more likely to be injured than a motor vehicle occupant. Motorcyclists were 9 times more likely to be injured. Statistics are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to NHTSA, 47% of motorcycle fatalities involved collisions with other vehicles. 77% of the fatal accidents were motorcycles struck in the front, with merely 7% struck in the rear. Significantly, in 41% of the fatalities, the motorcycle was going straight and the other vehicle was turning left.
Massachusetts has a 97% helmet use; nationally, the rate is 59%. The NHTSA estimated that the use of helmets saved 1,829 lives, and, that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 823 lives could have been saved.
Alcohol changes the statistics too. Of the fatal crashes where alcohol was involved, motorcycles was involved in 29%, while cars and light trucks were each at 23%, and large trucks at only 2%. 43% of motorcyclists who died in single vehicle accidents had high blood alcohol levels; compared to 64% of other motor vehicle drivers. In Massachusetts, the rate of fatalities where motorcyclists were impaired was 40%.