Florida leads nation in motorcycle crash fatalities

Motorcycle fatalities in Florida rose 30 percent between 2014, 2015

Drivers should expect an increase in motorcycle traffic on Florida roads, as thousands of motorcyclists roar into Daytona for the 76th annual Daytona Bike Week March 10-19.

Florida has the most motorcycle crash fatalities in the nation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the most recent crash data, Florida saw a 30 percent increase in motorcycle deaths in 2015, the highest on record. Motorcyclists accounted for 20 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in the state, yet motorcycles account for only 3 percent of registered vehicles. In 2015, 606 people died and 9,045 were injured in motorcycle crashes on Florida roads.

“Time and time again, the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets has been proven through scientific study,” AAA public policy manager Karen Morgan said. “AAA strongly supports a universal helmet law in Florida.” 

Economic cost

Motorcycle crashes are costly, yet according to an AAA Consumer Pulse survey, 15 percent of motorcyclists do not have motorcycle insurance.

According to the Florida Department of Health, hospital charges for motorcyclists who are treated in a hospital because of a traffic crash totaled $675,674,964. The average cost for a motorcyclist involved in a traffic crash who was then admitted to the hospital was $83,676. Helmet use has been shown to significantly reduce the cost associated with motorcycle traffic crashes, experts said.

“Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death,” AAA spokesman Josh Carrasco said. “Our goal is to make sure all motorists arrive safely at their destination, including motorcyclists.”

Safety tips for motorists

  • Respect motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are vehicles too and have the same privileges as an automobile. Be sure to give them ample room.
  • Look and listen. Even if a motorcycle is loud, you might not hear it. Actively look for motorcycles in traffic.
  • Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and motorcyclists. Uneven terrain, wet roads and heavy traffic often require a motorcycle rider to react and maneuver differently than automobiles.
  • Be aware. Take extra caution when making a left-hand turn, because most automobile-vs.-motorcycle crashes occur during left-hand turns.
  • Don't drive distracted. A driver who takes his or her eyes off the road for two seconds doubles the risk of getting into a crash.

Safety tips for motorcyclists

  • Wear safety gear. Helmets that meet DOT compliance standards, eyewear, closed-toe footwear and protective clothing reduce your risk of injury or death in a crash. Remember, the only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.
  • Be visible. Keep headlights, markers and taillights on at dusk and dark, in the dark or in rainy weather. Wear bright clothing or put reflective strips on your bike to be more visible to other motorists. Avoid being in the blind spots of cars and trucks by following three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
  • Use sound judgment. Avoid weaving between lanes while riding. Be sure to use your signals and stick to the speed limit.
  • Get proper training. Completing a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a better rider, but save you money on your motorcycle insurance

About the Authors:

This Emmy Award-winning television, radio and newspaper journalist has anchored The Morning Show for 18 years.