The latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates not only does Florida have the highest number and rate of motorcycle deaths every year, we’ve seen a 24 percent increase just within a matter of three years.
From 2010 to 2012 (the latest year for which final figures are available), data shows the number of motorcycle deaths in the Sunshine State spiked from 365 to 456. That’s a 24 percent increase – more than double the 10 percent increase reported nationally.
Just recently, large groups of “daredevil” motorcyclists made headlines by flooding South Florida highways while speeding, popping wheelies, weaving through traffic, blowing through traffic lights and carrying out other stunts. At least one serious crash has been connected to this group.
There is no question such reckless operators pose a threat to the safety of others. But in the end, they also pose a risk to the safety other motorcyclists because they perpetuate the myth that most motorcyclists are careless with their own lives.
The truth of the matter is, most motorcycle accidents are the result of negligence or recklessness on the part of other motorists, who fail to keep a proper lookout or maintain adequate safe distance from riders.
While the NHTSA report did indicate motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had higher rates of alcoholic impairment and prior license suspensions, they did not account for the majority.
An increasing number of riders are men over the age of 40. They comprised 46 percent of motorcyclists, compared to 56 percent in 2013.
Just recently, a 49-year-old Naples motorcyclist on his Harley Davidson was killed on I-75 by a hit-and-run driver southbound in Bonita Springs. The other vehicle allegedly changed lanes behind him and did not slow down and rear-ended the motorcyclist. The husband and father of two was tossed from his bike and later pronounced dead at the scene.
There are a few reasons authorities theorize could be to blame for the uptick in Florida motorcycle fatalities. The first has to do with the fact there are more riders overall. But there is also the helmet factor.
In 2000, the state repealed a law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets, and there has been a sharp increase in deaths ever since. No one in Tallahassee has any pending measures proposing to bring that law back, even though other states – Tennessee, Louisiana, Vermont and Nebraska – used Florida as an example in successful efforts to beat back similar helmet repeal laws.
Three years before the helmet law was repealed, the state averaged an annual 160 motorcycle deaths. By 2006, it had reached an all-time high of 550.
The drop from 2008 to 2010 was attributed to Florida’s implementation of a mandatory motorcycle training law.
State law allows riders to go without a helmet, so long as they carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Unfortunately, $10,000 will not go far in covering the costs of medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering often sustained by those involved in motorcycle crashes.
Experienced motorcycle accident attorneys can help explore the possibility of collecting insurance from the other driver. However, if that driver is not insured, underinsured or not identified, the rider will have to pursue damages from his own carrier in the form of undeirnsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
Problematically, this is not required of Florida motorists. However, motorcyclists are strongly advised to secure such coverage in light of the extensive injuries that can occur in the event of a collision.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Motorcycle helmet law advocates say rising Florida deaths prove need, April 18, 2014, By Mike Brassfield, Tampa Bay Times
More Blog Entries:
Florida Motorcycle Injuries and Comparative Fault, Dec. 7, 2014, Naples Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Blog