Report: Florida deadliest state for motorcyclists
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to roar into Daytona Beach for Bike Week this weekend.
When it comes to motorcycle crashes, Florida is the deadliest state in the nation, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report.
Motorcyclists accounted for one-fifth, or 19 percent, of motor vehicle fatalities in the state, while making up only about 7 percent of licensed motorists, AAA said.
According to a recent AAA Consumer Pulse survey, nearly one in five motorcyclists, or 16 percent, do not have motorcycle insurance. The estimated economic cost to society of each motorcycle fatality is $1.48 million.
Economic costs include lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency services costs, insurance administration costs, property damage and workplace losses.
“Since the repeal of the helmet law in Florida, motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled,” said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager for AAA. “While helmet usage is a controversial issue among riders, the bottom line is that they save lives.”
Vivian Samuels' son, Mark, died two years ago in a motorcycle crash on I-10. He was 22 and had just graduated from firefighter and paramedic school. She said he'd been riding bikes for years and was always cautious.
Samuels said Mark's sudden death is proof that tragedies can strike at any time.
"Some get in accidents and they walk away and they are fine, and then you have others, like me, who receive that phone call that you should never get," Samuels said. "He had his whole life ahead of him."
According to AAA, one-third, or 32 percent, of motorcyclists in Florida do not think they should be required to wear a helmet when riding. Although helmet requirements are a controversial issue, many riders claim to wear some form of safety gear while riding.
The majority of bike riders wear the following safety gear when riding:
- Helmet (86 percent)
- Face shield or glasses (81 percent)
- Boots (64 percent)
- Gloves (63 percent)
- Jacket or vest with protective armor (55 percent)
"Bikers should do everything possible to make themselves visible to motorists while riding," said AAA spokesman Josh Carrasco. “Motorists need to keep their attention on the task of driving and be alert for increased motorcycle traffic. Motorcyclists can increase their visibility by riding with their lights on or adding reflective gear to their bike.”
Florida Highway Patrol trooper Jared Ferris, who is part of FHP's motorcycle unit, said the most dangerous things that he sees motorcyclists do are speed and weave around traffic.
"We are constantly having to watch for things. You are always checking," Ferris said. " Also (be) watching for cars that come into your lane. That seems to happen a lot, as well as traffic making a left turn in front of you. You're always having to watch for them, because sometimes they can't see you as you are approaching an intersection."
Samuels also offered advice for motorcyclists.
"Just to be very cautious, cautious of your surroundings, cautious of the road works and everything like that, because you never know what can happen that can cause an accident like this," she said.
FHP said riders should be even more careful when riding in groups.
Ferris said one of the most effective things that riders can do is give themselves enough space to react to anything that might happen.
Safety Tips for Motorists:
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists:
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