Despite the fact that there are considerably fewer motorcycle riders than motor vehicle drivers in the state of Massachusetts, motorcycle accident injury and fatality rates are significantly higher. Even minor collisions can have catastrophic consequences for motorcyclists, as they are exposed to a huge number of physical and environmental factors. Similarly, motorcyclists are often not afforded many of the same roadway courtesies as other drivers. Accident injury statistics and primary prevention techniques shed light on many of the hazards that motorcycle riders are confronted by every day, and can help to prevent fatal incidents from occurring in the future.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, motorcycle fatality rates have fluctuated in recent years. After decreasing slightly in 2009, motorcycle deaths increased for three straight years before decreasing again in 2013. That year, it was estimated that 4,381 motorcycle riders lost their lives in collisions. Over half of those collisions involved multiple vehicles, and almost 35 percent of fatally injured motorcycle riders were at least 50 years old. It was also found that serious head injuries were sustained by a considerable number of fatalities victims.
The Insurance Information Institute also discusses major accident injury factors and explains that safety training and helmet use significantly lower fatality rates among motorcycle riders. Helmets prevent fatal injuries in motorcycle operators in around 37 percent of cases. It is also estimated that well over 700 motorcyclists would have survived their injuries if they had been wearing helmets in 2013. Evidence suggests that universal helmet laws are effective in increasing helmet use rates among riders, and concerted efforts by states to encourage participation in motorcycle safety and training courses is also believed to be a major factor in cracking down on fatality injury rates.