By Chuck Mai, AAA
In Oklahoma, the number of motorcyclist deaths has increased each year from 65 in 2006 to 106 in 2009. Oklahoma, however, is bucking the national trend which according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, shows motorcyclist fatalities nationwide decreasing from more than 5,000 in 2007 and 2008 to 4,462 in 2009.
State data shows:
–Of the total of 71,218 traffic crashes reported in 2009 in Oklahoma, 1,406 (2%) were motorcycle-related and involved 1601 individuals that were either drivers (90%) or passengers (10%) on a motorcycle.
–Though only 2% of crashes were motorcycle related, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of persons identified as having an inpatient hospitalization and 14% of persons who died.
–420 motorcyclists were hospitalized or died as a result of the crash as compared to 1.7% hospitalized and 0.4% died among persons in a car or pick-up truck crash.
–There were 649 (46% of the total) single vehicle crashes, 700 (50%) involving multiple vehicles and 57 (4%) involving animals or pedestrians.
–Hospitalization or death is more frequent among motorcyclists not wearing a helmet.
–Based on Oklahoma data for 2009, typical hospital charges are more than $13,000 higher for unhelmeted motorcyclists than for those wearing a helmet.
–Injuries to the head/face/neck are twice as frequent among unhelmeted motorcyclists than those wearing a helmet.
That’s the problem. So, what’s the solution?
First of all, motorists need to pay special attention while driving and watch out for motorcycles. Sometimes they’re hard to see – so always look once and then look again before turning or pulling out onto a roadway.
And there are some things motorcyclists can do:
–Don’t ride if impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
–Wear a proper fitting DOT-approved helmet; you may want to consider helmets that are also Snell certified.
–Wear clothing or specialized gear that provides protection against road rash and impact injuries to other parts of the body.
–Be extra cautious if riding at night or on narrow rural roads, especially if you are unfamiliar with the road.
This information comes from the Oklahoma Traffic Data Linkage Project, a joint effort of the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office. Their good work is very much appreciated.