Every year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) deems the month of May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As part of the federal government’s Department of Transportation, the NHTSA’s emphasis on motorcycle safety will potentially have the effect of raising awareness across the country’s highways.
Most motorcyclists in the Houston area would likely agree that safety affects more than the rider. Some folks may even say that safety ought to incorporate more than one month per year.
When someone suffers a motorcycle injury, the damage to the person and property can be far worse than the typical vehicle accident.
Another government entity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the following statistics dealing with motorcycle safety:
- Within a 7-year period ending in 2008, over 34,000 motorcyclists were killed and an estimated 1,222,000 persons were treated in emergency rooms for a non-fatal motorcycle-related injury.
- The highest death and injury rates were among 20-24 year-olds, followed by 25-29 year-olds.
- More than half of all nonfatal motorcycle injuries treated in EDs were to the leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (22%).
- Motorcyclist death rates increased 55% between the same 7-year period.
- The number of nonfatal motorcyclist injuries that resulted in ER visits also increased, from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008.
A high percentage of those motorcycle injuries were the result of riders not wearing helmets. The NHTSA consistently advocates that all riders wear helmets, despite variations in the law.
It bears to mention that the State of Texas does not require every motorcyclist wear protective gear. If a properly licensed rider takes motorcycle safety course, for instance, the rider may opt out of wearing a helmet. The state of Texas used to require a minimum of $10,000 health insurance coverage to be exempt from receiving a fine for operating or riding a motorcycle without a helmet. The law since 2009 also “prohibits a peace officer from stopping or detaining a person who is the operator of or a passenger on a motorcycle for the sole purpose of determining whether the person has successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course or is covered by a motorcycle health insurance plan and repeals provisions relating to a DPS-issued sticker required to be displayed on a motorcycle by a motorcycle owner.”