Crash Stats Reveal High Percentage of Drunken Motorcyclists

Motorcycle accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on 2012 crash data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, which recently joined forces with motorcycle safety advocates to remind motorcyclists of the extraordinarily high rates of injury and death in crashes when alcohol is involved. Motorcycle riders are more than twice as likely to die in an alcohol-related crash as any other type of vehicle.

Surprisingly, the Illinois state statistics show that an inordinate amount of people are riding drunk in the late afternoon, between the hours of 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. During this time frame, about 15% of motorcyclist deaths that occur involve a drunken rider. This can be compared to just 6% of passenger vehicle fatalities in the same three hours.

In later evening hours, between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m., the motorcyclist fatalities rise significantly, to 24% involving alcohol, compared to 11% of passenger cars involving an inebriated driver. Every second counts on the road, particularly for motorcyclists. Driving while drunk is so dangerous, in part, because it slows your reaction time considerably, so you are largely unable to respond to sudden changes in road conditions or other drivers.

In 2012 in Illinois, nearly 150 motorcyclists were killed in crashes with other vehicles, which was a slight increase from 2011 (nationally, 12,000 motorcyclists were killed). Unfortunately, due to the nature of the vehicle, motorcycle riders are over-represented in state and national crash fatalities. In 2012, motorcycles accounted for 3% of all registered motor vehicles, however, made up more than 15% of all vehicle fatalities. And, although the overall traffic fatalities are declining year by year, fatalities and serious injuries in motorcyclists is increasing.

Advocates assert that improving certain safety components in motorcycles, such as break systems in bikes, will help improve these devastating fatality rates. One of the most common crashes riders are involved in is when a driver of an automobile turns directly in front of a motorcycle, cutting it off so it has little time to break. During such a sudden incident it is critically important that the bike’s breaking system is adequate and intuitive.

Most motorcycles have separate controls for the back and front breaks, so that if the biker breaks too hard one wheel can lock up, causing unevenness and ultimately a fall. Improper breaking is a common cause of many motorcycle crashes, however antilock brakes (ABS) have been proven to help dramatically in these situations. ABS automatically reduce brake pressure when a lockup occurs, or is about to occur, and increases it again after traction is restored and maintained. ABS allow a motorcyclist to maximize breaking force in an emergency situation without having to worry about locking up the breaks.

BMW first installed ABS breaks in 1988, and by 2000, most European manufacturers equipped most of its models with the systems. By 2005, all Japanese manufacturers had ABS at least as options. It was not until 2008 that Harley-Davidson started manufacturing its bikes with ABS.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety concluded that ABS-equipped motorcycles were involved in 38% less fatal crashes than those without the system. In 2011, BMW announced it would ceases selling models without ABS.

Motorcycle crash attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience representing clients seriously injured in motorcycle accidents caused by negligent drivers or poorly maintained roads. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in such a situation, you have important legal rights, and must be entitled to significant compensation through a personal injury motorcycle lawsuit.