In a lot of ways, motorcycles are great vehicles. They’re smaller & more maneuverable than cars, often get way better gas mileage, and they’re just plain fun to ride in the warm, sunny Florida weather.
However, as fun as riding a motorcycle is, it can also be very dangerous. According to data from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there were 10,201 motorcycle crashes in 2015 alone. These crashes resulted in 8,231 motorcyclist injuries and 546 motorcyclist fatalities (814 passenger injuries and 38 passenger fatalities). Motorcycle crashes have an injury rate of 88.6%, and a fatality rate of 5.7%.
Compare this to the overall statistic of 374,342 total traffic crashes, 2,939 total crash fatalities, and 243,316 total injuries. This gives the average traffic accident a 64.9% injury rate and a 0.07% fatality rate.
In short, if you get into an accident on a motorcycle, you’re 36% more likely to get severely injured, and over eighty times more likely to die, than you would be if you were in a car.
With these alarming statistics in mind, just how common are motorcycle crashes in Pasco county?
Pasco County Crash Stats for 2015
According to FLHSMV data, there were 7,464 total crashes, 70 crash fatalities and 6,777 crash injuries in Pasco county in 2015.
Meanwhile, there were 301 motorcycle crashes, 22 motorcyclist fatalities, and 275 motorcyclist injuries in Pasco during that year. That’s almost one motorcycle crash in the county per day.
So, motorcycle crashes in Pasco are commonplace, but not as common as car or truck crashes, considering that motorcycle crashes only account for around 4% of the total crashes in the county. However, motorcycle crashes still counted for nearly a third of all traffic crash fatalities in the county.
Why Are Motorcycle Accidents So Much More Fatal?
Whether you’re riding a sport bike, cruiser, or roadster, being on a motorcycle can put you at a much greater risk of death during a traffic crash than being in a car.
The obvious explanation for this is the difference in the safety equipment available in cars and trucks compared to a motorcycle. Car/truck drivers have vehicles with crumple zones to reduce impact shock, seat belts, roll cages, air bags, cushions, multiple-point body support, and countless other technologies designed to protect drivers and passengers from harm.
A motorcyclist has whatever clothing/padding they’re wearing, and little else.
In the event of a crash, a motorcyclist can easily be thrown from their vehicle to hit the hard road, other vehicles, signage, or even trees by the road. Without protection, these impacts can leave severe lasting injuries, or even be fatal.
Staying Safe On Motorcycles
Because of the increased injury and fatality risk when riding motorcycles, we here at Lowman Law urge everyone who reads this blog to ride safely if they choose to operate a motorcycle—and to keep an eye out for motorcycles on the road when they drive.
Some basic safety tips for riding a motorcycle include:
- Wearing Head Protection. If you’re riding a motorcycle, you should wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet with goggles and face protection provides benefits beyond simply protecting your skull in a crash—just ask anyone who’s ridden through a swarm of Florida's infamous love bugs.
- Wearing Thick, Padded Clothing. Riding jackets, jeans/riding chaps, boots, pads, and other thick, protective clothing can help provide some minimal cushioning and protection during a crash. At the very least, tough riding clothes will stand up to abrasion better than a cotton shirt alone—helping reduce road rash.
- Using Caution Around Other Drivers. All the “Watch Out for Motorcycles” warnings in the world won’t prevent some drivers from blindly changing lanes without checking their blind spots first. When passing cars on the highway or other roads, watch out for signs that they may be preparing to change lanes. When riding behind another vehicle, give yourself plenty of stopping distance—even if you don’t need it, the car behind you might.
- Routinely Inspecting Your Bike. Many motorcycle parts may be more prone to failure than their car or truck equivalents—particularly if you don’t ride your motorcycle very frequently. Checking your suspension, tires, and engine regularly is a must for maintaining safety. If the acceleration sticks, or the suspension wobbles, it could cause you to lose control of your motorcycle at an inopportune moment.
Although motorcycle accidents only account for a small percentage of all the traffic accidents in Pasco county, they’re still a near-daily occurrence with severe consequences.
If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, be sure to seek expert medical care first, and then seek legal advice from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.