The Laconia Motorcycle Rally, in Laconia, New Hampshire, one of the oldest and largest of its kind. Now in its 88th year, the Laconia Rally draws nearly 30,000 riders (and about 200,000 others) from across the Northeast to hang out, watch races and cheer custom bike build-offs.
The popularity of the event reflects the growing popularity of motorcycles in the Northeast and across the country. Unfortunately, that popularity is accompanied by a growing number of motorcycle crashes, some of them fatal.
Motorcycle accident fatalities in the United States more than doubled between 1999 and 2008. The deaths increased year after year, reaching an all-time high in 2008 of 5,312. More than half of those fatalities were riders 40 years and older. Just 10 years earlier, only a third of fatalities involved victims over 40.
Thankfully, 2009 saw the first decline in motorcyclist deaths in 11 years. But many experts are concerned that the number of deaths will begin increasing again.
Motorcycle ownership has also significantly increased since 1998 (especially in the over-40 group), almost doubling to 7.7 million motorcycles on the road in 2008. However, economic factors decreased motorcycle sales by 41 percent in 2009, which may by itself explain the sudden drop in annual fatalities that same year.
Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than passenger cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcyclists are more than 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in an accident. A variety of factors contribute to that staggering number, including helmet use, speeding, intoxication, and insufficient training. Those factors are aggravated by the fact that car and truck drivers have difficulty seeing motorcyclists in traffic – and are often careless about doing so.
If the downward trend in motorcyclist deaths is to continue, both riders and drivers will have to do a better job of sharing the road and taking precautions.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to discuss your situation and your options.