Motorcyclist safety and realities

Motorcyclists, like bicyclists, are more vulnerable to serious injury in the event of a crash. The lack of protection around them naturally increases the risk of bodily injury when compared to drivers or passengers in any other motor vehicle. The increased speed with which motorcycles travel in relation to bicycles makes the severity of personal injury they can incur greater as well.

Pennsylvania has seen an increase in motorcycle traffic in the past decade with almost 100,000 more registered riders in 2012 than in 2003 and nearly 145,000 more registered motorcycles in the same time period.

All in all, motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable groups on Pennsylvania roadways and understanding the laws surrounding safe motorcycling and your options in the event of an accident is important.

Pennsylvania helmet and eye protection laws

Pennsylvania laws governing the use of helmets state that any motorcyclist under the age of 21 must wear a helmet at all times. Riders over the age of 21 are not required to wear a helmet provided that they have been licensed in the state of Pennsylvania for at least two years or that they have completed an approved motorcycle safety course. Approved courses can be certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or the state Department of Transportation.

The helmet guidelines apply to all motorcycles and all low-powered cycles with 50 cubic centimeter or greater engine displacement, 1.5 horsepower for braking and that are able to travel at speeds of 25 miles per hour or greater.

All motorcyclists, regardless of age, are required to wear protective eyewear at all times. Shatterproof material is recommended although not required.

The reality of motorcycle crashes

Schuylkill County was among the top 10 counties in the state for traffic related deaths in 2012 with a total of 28 fatalities, representing 2.3 percent of the population. Statewide, nearly 17 percent of all fatal accidents involved a motorcycle. Of the 3,985 motorcycle accidents in Schuylkill County in 2012, 1,333 involved another vehicle. Of those:

  • 611 involved a passenger car
  • 392 involved a light truck, van or SUV
  • 56 involved another motorcycle
  • 43 involved a heavy truck
  • 10 involved either a school or commercial bus
  • 8 involved a bicycle

Clearly, everyday passenger vehicles such as cars to SUVs pose the greatest risk for multi-vehicle accidents to motorcyclists.

What to do in t he event of an accident

The actions you should take if you are involved in a motorcycle accident with another vehicle are the same as if you were driving a car. First and foremost, respond to and take care of any injuries, contacting emergency personnel for help as needed. Along with that is the need to call the police so that a complete accident report is obtained. Ensure that you obtain all pertinent information from the other driver; include vehicle information, name and driver's license number. Finally, you should never indicate fault and contact your insurance company and an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Because of the greater risk that they have for serious injury in an accident, motorcyclists should take extra precautions at all times when faced with an accident situation. Talking to an attorney is always recommended as a way to ensure the proper protection and compensation if the need arises.