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In the United States, the number of motorcyclists killed in accidents in 2012 jumped 7% from 4,630 in 2011 to 4,957 in 2012. In 2013, the number of deaths dropped to 4,381, but the number is still excessively high. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that the number of people who die on motorcycles is roughly 30 times higher than those who die in cars. It makes sense, too, since motorcycles offer significantly less protection than automobiles.

For obvious reasons, motorcycles are less safe than automobiles when the driver is involved in an accident. Safety measures are possible, but they can only go so far since motorcycles lack the basic safety features of automobiles, such as air bags, seat belts, and the protection of an enclosed cabin. In fact, helmets are the only thing that protect a rider’s head from impact during an accident. But, how much of a difference does a helmet actually make?

Do Helmets Help?

Helmet use can make a difference, with the IIHS stating that helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, and 37 percent effective in preventing death. But the IIHS also reports that, in 2013, 59 percent of all motorcycle drivers who died in an accident were helmeted. Given that helmets are the only piece of safety equipment a rider can use to protect his head in an accident, but the numbers still show a high rate of death, does the risk inherent in driving a motorcycle mean insurance rates are higher for motorcycles than automobiles? The answer depends on the motorcycle you purchase.

Motorcycles and Insurance

Just as with any other type of insurance, the more the motorcycle is worth, the higher the insurance rate. Another factor that insurance companies consider when establishing motorcycle insurance rates is whether or not the insured drives a sports or performance motorcycle. The faster the motorcycle can go, the higher the rate to insure it. The reason for that is because faster motorcycles are more likely to be involved in accidents. It’s the same logic that insurance companies use when establishing their rates for automobiles. Regardless of the expense, however, it is critical that motorcycle riders protect themselves from financial devastation by purchasing insurance coverage.

The Cost of Motorcycle Accidents

In a report released by the CDC, it is estimated that the cost of death and injuries associated with motorcycle accidents exceed $12 billion every year. Unhelmeted riders have significantly higher health care costs, with the median medical costs reaching some 13 times higher than those for helmeted drivers. Of course, each state does not bear the cost equally. As an example, one of the most dangerous states in which to drive a motorcycle is Florida. In fact, according to the Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic, an average of approximately 400 motorcycle riders are killed annually. That figure accounts for nearly a full tenth of all motorcycle fatalities in the country in any given year.

Various reasons exist to explain the discrepancy in the number of motorcycle accident related injuries and deaths from state to state, such as warmer weather and the fact that certain states are prime U.S. vacation destinations. However, regardless of where you drive your motorcycle, it is imperative that you maintain good insurance coverage, and always wear a helmet. If you are involved in an accident, whether you are at fault or not, you could end up paying a heavy cost, both physically and financially, if you are injured.

Staff (65 Posts)