Thanks to the state’s late falls and early springs, Pennsylvania motorcyclists can enjoy riding their vehicles for a longer time than other states in the country. Unfortunately, due to this longer time and many negligent motorists in the state, Pennsylvania had the 4th most amount of motorcyclist fatalities in 2016 and 2017.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released the 2017 preliminary data on motorcyclist traffic fatalities by state. While the state did see a 3.7 decrease in fatalities in 2017, it still bear every other state except for Florida, California and Texas. If you plan on taking out your motorcycle for a ride on the Pennsylvania roads anytime soon, it is important to see what this study considers to be the most frequent causes in motorcyclist fatalities.
Lack of strict helmet laws
The GHSA blames a large portion of the deaths and major injuries on the lenient helmet laws of most of the states, noting that most of the states that require helmets for all bikers had less medical costs. With the exception of California, the top 5 deadliest states do not require all motorcyclists to wear helmets.
Pennsylvania originally required all motorcyclists to wear helmets until 2003. Now the state only requires bikers that are under 21 or have less than 2 years of experience to wear protective headgear. Many believe this to be the primary cause of the significant increase in deaths since then, though others argue it is due to the larger amount of registered motorcyclists on the road.
More drunk riding
The study notes that in the 2016 data, motorcyclists had the highest percentage of drunk driving deaths out of all vehicle deaths. They were far more likely to occur in the nighttime and the amount of rider fatalities from with blood alcohol concentrations 0.08 and higher significantly went up in the last couple of years.
In Pennsylvania, the results are similar. The Pennsylvania DUI Association calculated motorcyclists to have the largest percentage of drunk driving crashes out of all the vehicles, consisting of 7.7 percent of the total.
While drunk drivers and helmet laws had the most emphasis on the report, the GHSA also highlighted stormy weather and high speeds contributing to a large portion of the deaths. They also mentioned unendorsed, unlicensed and distracted drivers have been on the rise within the last couple of years.
As Pennsylvania increases spreading safety awareness to all of the state’s motorists, you should be cautious of the negligent riders and safety hazards that can appear on the roads.