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Motorcyclist Fatality Rates: Cruisers vs. Sport Bikes

Posted by Scot D. Goldberg | Dec 07, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Bikers in Southwest Florida get to enjoy great riding weather for most of the year. The irony is that when the weather is perfect for a nice ride, it's also the time of year when our local roads are jammed with snow birds and vacationing tourists.

Heading out to the country, away from the congested traffic of roads in town, is what many bikers look forward to. But no matter what time of year it is, local motorcyclists are always taking a huge risk when they're sharing the road with ‘cagers', or those in passenger vehicles. There are far too many avoidable crashes, like cars making a left turn into an oncoming biker's right-of-way, rear-end collisions into the back of a stopped bike, and more.

As attorneys who represent bikers who have been seriously hurt because of someone else's negligence or carelessness, Goldberg Noone personal injury lawyers are all too familiar with the tragic scenarios that can change someone's life in the blink of an eye.

And recent studies have shown that the type of bike you ride may indicate your risk for being involved in a serious crash.

According to data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's, (IIHS), Highway Loss Data Institute, fatalities are increasing annually at an alarming rate. There were more than twice as many motorcyclist fatalities in 2015, (4,693), as there were in 1997. For 2015, motorcyclist fatalities represented 13% of all motor vehicle crash deaths.

Fatalities are tracked using the registration information on motorcycle owners. The data shows that owners of cruiser-style bikes, along with touring and sport-touring motorcycles, have the lowest percentage of fatalities. Theses classifications of bikes comprise the largest group of motorcycles on the road, and statistics show they are most commonly driven by riders 40-years old or above.

Riders who drive supersport-style bikes, which generally means a high-performance, high-speed type of bike, represent the smallest segment of registered bikes, but are overrepresented when it comes to rider fatalities. An IIHS study conducted in 2010 discovered that the driver fatality rate per 10,000 registered supersport bikes was approximately 4 times that of cruiser style bikes.

Supersport bikes are known to have a very high horsepower-to-weight ratio, meaning very high horsepower and a relatively low overall weight. They are designed on a frame made for competitive racing, and then modified for street use. Some of these high-performance machines can accelerate extremely quickly, reaching speeds of 150 mph or more in an unbelievably short amount of time.

As an example, a 2012 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R produces 163 horsepower from its 998 cubic centimeter engine, and weighs just 437 pounds. By way of comparison, a 2012 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Guide, which is a touring motorcycle, produces just 66 horsepower from its 1,690 cubic centimeter engine, and weighs 889 pounds.

Helmets: A Personal Choice

We've written before about our position on whether a biker wears a helmet or not, and to be clear, we do advocate for wearing one when you ride. Statistics show that helmets are about 37% effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities, and about 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. Currently, 19 states and the District of Columbia make it mandatory to wear a helmet when you ride.

We fully understand that in Florida, its up to the rider and their personal preference as to whether they wear a helmet or not. We meet a lot of bikers who say that a helmet impairs their abilities to see clearly around them, and to hear other vehicles. Do bikers still die if they're in a crash and wearing a helmet? Sadly, yes – and we've represented the estates of many riders who tragically lost their lives, even though they were wearing a helmet.

But while we respect a rider's choice to not wear one, we still believe it will reduce your risk of suffering a life-altering injury if you're in a serious crash.

Motorcycle accident lawyer Mike Noone recently headed up our law firm's efforts in representing the estate of a 19-year old biker who died when a car travelling in the opposite direction made a left turn directly into his path. “Our client was wearing a helmet, and unfortunately it did not save his life”, he says. “There are no guarantees that wearing one will save your life, obviously, as this case illustrates. We just feel that your odds of surviving go up if you choose to wear a helmet”. (You can read more about that case here.)

If You're Hurt, Get the Help You Need

If you or someone you know has the unfortunate occurrence of being injured while riding a motorcycle, you're going to need help. Goldberg Noone bike crash attorneys know the answers to the multitude of questions you're going to have, and it never costs a penny to speak with us. It's always better to reach out to us to get the advice you need as opposed to wondering whether you have a legal case or not. Don't wait, expecting things to get better on their own – call our law firm at 239-461-5508, or just complete this simple contact form, and one of our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will contact you immediately.

Ride smart, ride safe and do everything you can to not become another fatality statistic.  

About the Author

Scot D. Goldberg

Local People. Local Practice. Local Knowledge. Scot Goldberg is a founding partner of the Goldberg Law Firm. See his attorney profile for more information.

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