Motorcycle Accidents

In 2007, 5,154 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S., an increase of 7% from 2006. In addition, over 103,000 motorcyclists were injured. Many of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented if more motorcycle riders and their passengers wore helmets. Wearing a helmet lowers a motorcycle rider's risk of fatal injury by 37%. Despite the documented effectiveness of helmets, many motorcyclists choose not to wear them, especially when state laws don't require helmet use. Currently, less than half of the states require helmet use by riders of all ages. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,784 motorcyclists in 2007. And if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 800 lives could have been saved.

Per vehicle mile traveled in 2006, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 8 times more likely to be injured. While motorcycles made up no more than 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists account for 13% of total traffic deaths. In 2007, 36% of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared to 24% for passenger car drivers, 19% for light-truck drivers, and 8% for large-truck drivers.

In Oklahoma, motorcyclists are subject to the same speed restrictions as other vehicles. Under Oklahoma law, all motorcyclists are required to drive at a speed that is reasonable or prudent. 47 Okl. St. § 11-801.

Any speed in excess of the following speeds is evidence of unreasonable driving:

  • 25 mph approaching a school crossing.
  • 65 mph in other locations, unless the director of highway traffic states otherwise. 47 Okl. St. § 11-801.

In all motor vehicle accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries.

Tips for Preventing Motorcycle Injuries

  • If you ride a motorcycle, always wear a helmet. Helmets are your best defense against serious and fatal brain injuries.
  • In addition to your helmet, wear eye and face protection. Many helmets have built-in visors or other face guards. Wear long pants, gloves, boots, and a durable long-sleeved jacket.
  • Get licensed. All states require a motorcycle license.
  • Never drink alcohol before operating a motorcycle.
  • Follow all the rules of the road. Don't speed-40 percent of motorcyclists who died in crashes were speeding.
  • Watch for hazards on the road, such as large cracks, holes, and bumps. Keep an eye out for vehicles coming from driveways and side streets
  • Make sure your headlight is on every time you ride. (This is a law in most states.)
  • Don't let anyone ride with you until you are skilled at riding in all kinds of conditions.
  • If you're a new rider, take a motorcycle riders' course. To locate a course near you, call 1-800-446-9227.
  • When passengers ride with you, they must wear a helmet and protective gear.
  • Insist that passengers sit behind you on the motorcycle.
  • Make sure passengers' feet can reach the footrests. Insist that they keep their feet on the footrests at all times, even when you stop.
  • Don't let passengers get on the motorcycle until after you start it.
  • Tell your passengers to lean with you when you turn.
  • Insist that passengers hold on to your waist all the time.
  • Instruct passengers to keep their legs away from the muffler to avoid burns.
  • Ask that passengers limit their movement and talking.