Motorcycle accident statistics in Florida can be staggering, especially when they reveal that passenger vehicle fatalities occur at a mere fraction of the rate of fatal motorcycle accidents. The Sunshine State has one of the highest numbers of motorcycle deaths annually. AAA reports that not only do motorcycles account for 3 percent of registered vehicles in Florida while being involved in 20 percent of vehicle deaths, the number of motorcyclists who died has risen 30 percent since 2014.
The good news is burgeoning technologies are making motorcycles safer for riders and passengers.
The Rising Rates of Motorcycle Injuries
Traffic fatalities across the United States declined after the economic crash of 2008. Slowly, Americans returned to the road, and traffic fatalities are again on the rise. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projects that 2016 traffic fatalities are at least eight percent higher than 2015 fatalities (which were, in turn, 7 percent higher than 2014 fatalities). NHTSA also reported that, in 2014, motorcycle fatalities occurred twenty-seven times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles. Motorcycles have been repeatedly demonstrated to be less safe than passenger vehicles over decades of research.
The Florida Statutes - specifically F.S. 316.208 - have general provisions for rider safety. These include guidelines for number of passengers, lane use, headlight use, and handlebar height. These basic rules of the road are not, however, entirely sufficient to prevent fatal motorcycle accidents.
New Safety Features Save Lives
New motorcycle safety technologies are improving and expanding in ways that not only help riders meet their legal obligations, but also save lives. FairWarning reports that anti-lock braking is quickly becoming a standard feature of motorcycles. All new motorcycles sold in Europe must now include ABS. Japan, India and Brazil are all requiring ABS for motorcycles on a phased-in schedule. Despite support from NHTSA and other powerful advocates, ABS is not yet required in the United States. It is still a widely-available feature, however, and consumers are wise to access its protection. It is also interesting to note that both the California Highway Patrol and New York City Police Department require all motorcycles in their fleets to carry ABS.
Motorcycle buyers should also consider other features which can help them meet this obligation. For example: engine size affects speed, and this can be a problem for new or inexperienced riders who are not prepared to manage a powerful engine. Other intriguing safety options are in various stages of research and development. Airbag vests and jackets; safer helmets with GPS and backup cameras; LED and adaptive headlights; gloves with Bluetooth connectivity; system monitoring and diagnostic warnings; electronic stability control; and many other such innovations may soon become widely available to consumers. With so many options, it can be difficult to know what safety features are most important. Motorcycle buyers should carefully research all options and identify those which best suit their riding needs.
Of course, no amount of safety features or technology can substitute for attentive and defensive driving. Complement your safety features with safe driving habits in order to improve your chances of staying safe on the roads of Florida.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have a number of potential legal avenues to explore. Contact an Orlando motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible.