More and more Americans are looking for ways to take the sting out of soaring gas prices. Many of them are turning to two-wheeled vehicles to help avoid the pump. As the number of riders on the road increases, so does the number of motorcycle accidents. In 2005 there were 4,576 motorcycle accidents that ended in fatality, which is a little over ten percent of the total number of fatal accidents. In 2006 there were 4,810 deaths, or a little over 11 percent of the total. Motorcycle accidents in Nebraska, however, are much lower than national numbers. In 2005 there were 17 deaths involving a motorcycle (6.2 percent of the total) and in 2006 there were eighteen fatalities (6.7 percent). Nationally, fatalities from motorcycle accidents have increased every year for the past nine consecutive years.
One-fourth of all of the accidents that occur are single vehicle accidents. The majority of these come about because the rider has too little experience and almost no training. More than half of the riders involved in accidents are found to have less than five months of experience on their bike. Typically, an inexperienced rider will enter a curve going to fast. If the rider leans too far, the tires are likely to slide out from underneath the bike and send the rider crashing to the pavement. Depending on the rate of speed, the rider and the bike may slide for a good distance. If the rider enters a lane of oncoming traffic or hits any fixed objects in the surroundings, serious injuries are going to occur. The same holds true if the rider does not lean far enough to turn and under-steers the corner. If the driver loses control of the bike it may end up anywhere. 96 percent of single vehicle accidents end with injury to the rider.
The other three-fourths of motorcycle accidents also involve another vehicle. Most typically, a passenger vehicle will violate the right-of-way of the motorcycle rider at an intersection. In most of these cases, the drivers of the other vehicle claim not to have been aware of the motorcycle at all, or, at least, not soon enough to avoid the accident. Obviously, motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles on the road. They can be hid very easily from fellow drivers. The glare of sunlight from something in the area can make a motorcycle completely invisible. If you combine this with the fact that motorcycles are inherently less safe than other vehicles, it is easy to understand why there is a 98 percent chance that the biker will be hurt in an accident. And why in 45 percent of these accidents, the injuries are severe.
There are a variety of factors that can be involved in a motorcycle accident. Alcohol use is found in over fifty percent of the cases. Weather is not a direct factor in a little over 98 percent of the accidents. Road hazards like potholes, crumpling pavement and animals in the roadway cause about three percent. Another three percent are caused by poor motorcycle maintenance causing some type of vehicle failure like a flat tire or stalled engine.
Safety helmets are required, by law, for all riders in the state of Nebraska. Helmet laws vary from state to state. It is estimated that 1,658 lives were saved by helmets in 2006. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that another 752 lives could have been saved with the use of protective head gear. To legally ride a motorcycle in the United States, you must possess a valid driverís license with a Class M endorsement provided through your home state. To acquire your Nebraska motorcycle endorsement, you must pass a written knowledge test and a road skills test.
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