- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Big Rig Accidents
- Personal Injuries
On May 14th, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) posted it’s official Motorcycle Safety 5 Year Plan.
According to this document, “Overall traffic fatalities are increasing, and motorcyclist fatalities also continue to increase and are near their highest level in over 35 years.”
Despite advances in vehicle technology and road design, fatalities continue to increase because of the ever growing volume of vehicles on the road. The number of registered motorcycles in the United States has more than doubled over the past 20 years.
NHTSA identified core objectives for motorcycle safety in 1997 that remain relevant today:
These objectives take into account that design and technology can only go so far in protecting the rider; he or she will still be on two wheels, without the airbags, seatbelts, and roll bars provided by other types of motor vehicles.
The new 5 Year Plan describes the four key areas where NHTSA will work to reduce motorcycle accident fatalities.
Accurate, high-quality data is needed to help legislators and grantees understand where to invest funding for the most positive impact. Though broad traffic data is available, few studies have been done to complete the whole picture of motorcycle safety risks. Over the next five years, NHTSA will seek to understand things like:
Getting accurate answers to questions like these will enable more focussed decision-making and more effective programs.
State governments typically use a portion of their grant funds for developing educational material, often with ineffective messaging. By combining resources with other states, or using the federally supplied educational materials, states could potentially put those funds to better use.
A better understanding of funding parameters and updates to program guidelines are two more ways that state governments can maximize their resources for motorcycle safety.
Motorcycle safety laws vary from state to state, especially those regarding helmet use. The plan explains, “Currently 19 States and the District of Columbia require all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear helmets when riding. Twelve of those States and DC specify that helmets meet FMVSS No. 218, but seven States do not. Meanwhile, 28 other States have partial or age specific helmet use laws, with 16 specifying FMVSS 218. Three States have no helmet use law.”
Some state helmet laws are even dependent on level of insurance coverage.
Other motorcycle safety concerns include laws around permitting, engine displacement, and checkpoints. For states that have nuanced variations in each law, enforcement can be difficult. The NHTSA plans to focus on in-depth training to help law enforcement officers recognize violations and safety hazards.
There are two motorcycle safety concerns to be addressed at the Federal level: three-wheeled vehicles and novelty helmets. Certain three-wheeled vehicles are sold as motorcycles but look more like small cars. The safety concern is that users will drive them like small cars instead of taking the extra precautions needed for safe motorcycle riding.
Novelty helmets are any helmets that don’t meet FMVSS No. 218 safety standards. Some riders prefer to use helmets that are more comfortable, lighter weight, or more ventilated, but even in states where this is legal, these open up the opportunity for severe head injuries in case of a motorcycle accident.
As a possible solution, “NHTSA is currently coordinating a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant to examine the feasibility of a helmet ventilation system that improves comfort
while also complying with FMVSS No. 218.” Outreach and education are also named as strategies for promoting safety around three-wheeled vehicles and helmet design.
With the number of registered motorcycles at an all-time high, and since motorcyclists are greatly overrepresented in traffic-related fatalities, it’s good to know the NHTSA has a comprehensive plan for addressing safety issues. In the meantime, if you or someone you love will killed or injured while riding a motorcycle, please contact our office for a free, compassionate case evaluation.
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