Ohio Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle AccidentsAccording to statistical data compiled by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 3,651 Ohio motorcycle crashes in 2014. These crashes resulted in 3,060 injuries and 140 deaths.

The data show that slightly more than 50 percent of those who suffered injury, or 1,550 riders, were not wearing a helmet. On the other hand, injured people wearing a helmet totaled 1,327. Approximately 26 percent of those killed in motorcycle crashes, or 37 people, were wearing a helmet, and 49.4 percent, or 91 people, were not wearing a helmet. It is unknown whether the fatally injured motorcyclist was wearing a helmet in 12 of the motorcycle crashes.

The highest number of injuries occurred in the 41- to 60-year-old age group. As might be expected, the lowest percentage of injuries occurred in the 15-and-under and 71-and-over age groups. Deaths occurred most frequently among riders in the 51 to 55-year-old age range, with 56 to 60-year-olds having the second highest number of fatalities.

The data show motorcycle drivers were determined to be “in error” about 55.2 percent of the time. Non-motorcycle drivers were determined to be in error 35.4 percent of the time. Animals were responsible for two motorcycle crashes, and the causes of the remaining crashes were “not determined.” Of the 134 fatal crashes, motorcyclists were found to be in error 85 times, or about 63 percent of the time.

In reviewing crash statistics and working with other traffic safety facilities, Ohio has developed a program called “Motorcycle Ohio,” which offers motorcycle rider training courses at various sites throughout Ohio.

A “Motorcycle Accident Factors” study was conducted by the Traffic Safety Center of the University of Southern California, which researched 1,100 crashes over a two-year period. The study found:

• More than half of riders who crashed had fewer than five months’ experience on their motorcycles;
• Crashes involved motorcyclists who did not have a motorcycle license, or any license, or had had their licenses revoked;
• Untrained motorcyclists often do not understand and have not practiced how to use motorcycle brakes;
• Untrained riders often do not understand how to counter-steer and steer their motorcycle into an object they are trying to avoid;
• Almost half of the fatal motorcycle accidents indicated alcohol involvement;
• Motorcyclist errors were the primary cause of accidents involving one vehicle;
• Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly fewer head and neck injuries at all levels of injury severity.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has compiled data showing that a motorcyclist is 35 times more likely to be involved in a deadly accident than someone in a passenger car.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents do not necessarily occur more often than other types of accidents, but they are more likely to result in serious injury or death. According to the NHTSA, deaths from motorcycle crashes per mile traveled in 2012 were 26 times higher than deaths from auto crashes. In the vast majority of these crashes, cars strike motorcycles from the front—78 percent of the time.

The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists is a car making a left-hand turn in front of them. This situation occurs in 42 percent of car-motorcycle collisions, according to NHTSA data. The turning car usually hits the motorcycle when the motorcycle is:

• Going straight through an intersection;
• Passing the car; or
• Trying to overtake the car.

Although this is also a common crash scenario for two automobiles, the smaller size of the motorcycle makes it less visible to the turning vehicle.

Lane splitting can also cause crashes because:

• The cars are in close proximity to the motorcycle;
• The motorcycle has reduced space in which to maneuver; and
• Car drivers may not anticipate the motorcycle will be passing them in stopped or slowed traffic.

About half of single motorcycle crashes are caused by speeding and alcohol use. These factors play a large role in other motorcycle crashes, as well. In 2010, the NHTSA reported 29 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involved riders with a blood alcohol level above the .08 legal nationwide limit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that alcohol-related motorcycle accidents were on the increase with adults between the ages of 40 and 44, but young adults, ages 20 to 24, still lead as the age group with the most alcohol-related motorcycle crashes.

Close to half of all motorcycle crashes do not involve another vehicle. The rider collides with a fixed object, and speeding is often the main factor in these crashes. According to the NHTSA, 35 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 were the result of speeding. Additionally, speeding motorcyclists who are not wearing protective gear, such as a helmet, more than double their risk of being killed in a crash.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s data reflects that 91 of the 140 motorcyclists killed in 2014 (65 percent) were not wearing a helmet.
Motorcycles provide little protection to the driver or passenger, unlike a car which shields the person inside by encasing them in a box of metal. Serious injury or death is, therefore, more likely in a motorcycle crash.

Road hazards pose another danger for motorcyclists. Potholes, dead animals, slick pavements, uneven lanes, and insufficient signs or warnings on roadways may all contribute to motorcycle crashes as well.

It has also been shown that high-performance motorcycles, such as “supersport” or “sport” motorcycles, are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. The death rate of supersport riders is four times that of other motorcycle riders.

A supersport motorcycle is a motorcycle built on a racing platform that is modified for highway use. Supersport bikes are lightweight and have high horsepower engines that can go extremely fast—sometimes as fast as 160 mph. Sport bikes are similar but have a lower power-to-weight ratio. Statistics show the drivers of these types of motorcycles are generally 34 years old or younger.

Common Injuries with Motorcycle Accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “[m]otorcycle deaths and injuries are an important public health concern and economic liability in the United States.” Citing NHTSA data, the CDC reported that motorcycle-related deaths have increased by 55 percent since 2000 and that “[t]he economic burden from crash-related injuries and deaths in one year alone totaled $12 billion.” Included in these dollar amounts are substantial costs that injured motorcyclists and their families must bear after a collision.

Traumatic Brain Injury

According to the NHTSA, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. At a recent panel of brain surgeons in Akron, Ohio, the surgeons said the best way to avoid TBI is to wear a helmet. The NHTSA reports use of a helmet reduces the risk of death by 37 percent for motorcycle drivers and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. The CDC reports that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent.

TBI is a traumatically induced structural injury and/or physiological disruption of brain function as a result of head trauma. A direct blow to the head is not necessary, as is the case in a motor vehicle crash where one’s head is thrown forward or backward with great force – so-called “whiplash.”

TBI occurs on a microscopic level within the brain. The brain is normally covered with and protected by cerebral spinal fluid, which prevents it from striking the inside of a person’s skull and suffering injury. Sometimes the fluid is not enough to protect the brain during a trauma, and the brain impacts with the rough portions of a person’s skull, damaging or destroying millions of brain cells in an instant. This is referred to as “shearing.”
The terms “mild” or “moderate” TBI refer to the degree and length of loss of consciousness, and not the severity of damage to brain function. A concussion is generally considered a mild form of TBI. Even mild TBI can have severe consequences and may result in permanent and total disability. The severity of symptoms may increase if the injured person has suffered previous concussions.

Even if a person thinks he or she is not injured, any blow to the head is a reason to seek medical attention. Symptoms can worsen over time, and what initially seems to be a minor injury, could become major.

Neck and Spinal Cord Injuries

Neck and spinal cord injuries are very common in motorcycle crashes. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “[n]eck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues—the muscles, ligaments, and nerves—as well as in bones and disks of the spine.” Neck injuries may be the source of pain in other areas of the body as well, including pain in the upper back, shoulders, or arms. Neck injuries can be severe and even result in paralysis, requiring long-term assisted care.

Anyone who has injuries to the neck, back, or spine should seek immediate medical care, especially if he or she is experiencing continuous and persistent pain, severe pain, pain or numbness radiating into the arms or legs, or weakness of the arms or legs.

Road Rash

Road Rash is the most common injury in motorcycle crashes. It happens when exposed skin contacts the pavement. Sometimes thinner clothing can be scraped away by the impact of the rider on gravel or other rough surfaces. Road rash can be more than just cuts and bruises. If the skin is not properly treated, the motorcyclist could suffer permanent nerve damage, skin infections, or permanent irritations.

Protective clothing and equipment such as kneepads, gloves, jeans, and jackets may help prevent road rash.

Fractures

Motorcycle crashes can also result fractured bones. According to the CDC, motorcyclists commonly fracture bones of the legs and feet, face, upper trunk such as the ribs or sternum, arms and hands, and lower trunk such as the pelvis.

Sometimes these injuries are disabling. The presence of road rash can complicate fracture injuries as well.

Biker’s Arm

This injury is caused by damage to the nerves in the upper arm suffered during a fall. A biker may instinctively draw his or her arms around or in front of himself or herself to lessen the impact. Permanent damage and even paralysis may occur. Protective clothing—such as jackets and elbow pads—can help lessen or prevent ”biker’s arm.”

Traumatic Disfigurement, Amputations

Ohio Motorcycle Accident BookMotorcycle crashes can also result in the loss or permanent disfigurement of a body part. Crash victims sometimes suffer burn injuries or come in contact with metal that severs a limb. Other injuries can result in serious scarring or necessitate amputations. While the use of a helmet and other protective gear certainly decreases the risk of serious injury, it cannot ensure that a motorcyclist will survive a crash unscathed.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, please contact us for a free consultation by calling 1-888-534-4850, chatting with one of our 24-hour live chat operators or sending us a website message. A free consultation is just that – free. There is no cost and there is no obligation to hire our law firm.

For more information about motorcycle crashes in Ohio, please request a free copy of our book by visiting this link: Free Motorcycle Accident Book

 

 

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