The Daytona Beach Journal offered up some great news last month when it reported the number of bicycle deaths during the 76th annual Daytona Bike Week had fallen to historic lows this year. Officials told news reporters this had to do with a number of factors, including lower attendance, beefed up law enforcement patrols and increased awareness among industry groups.
Still, it wasn’t all positive. Two people still died and three were injured in separate accidents. But when you look at the fact nearly 500 people died in motorcycle accidents in Flagler and Volusia Counties between 2005 and 2015 and that almost a third of those happened at one of the region’s two major biking events – Bike Week and Biketoberfest – this year’s two deaths is far fewer than we’re used to seeing. It’s still two too many.
What’s more, Florida is nowhere near rid of its motorcycle accident risks. As The Orlando Sentinel reported, a recent study by AAA indicated that Florida once again leads the nation in motorcycle accident deaths. Worse, there were 606 motorcyclists killed in this state in 2015, which marks a stunning 30 percent increase in just a single year – from 2014.
It’s certainly not that we have 30 percent more motorcycles on the road, though the number of registrations in the state did rise by 3 percent. Motorcycles account for only 3 percent of all registered motor vehicles in the Sunshine State, yet involve 20 percent of vehicle fatalities.
While overall motor vehicle deaths have risen, owing to an economy that has steadily improved while gas prices have remained low, motorcycle accident death rates have interestingly fallen, at least on a national scale. The motorcycle death rate from 2006 to 2014 fell to 23 people killed per 100 million miles traveled from 40 per 100 million miles traveled. (That figure comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) Meanwhile, the number of registered motorcycles during that same time frame inched upward, from 6.6 million to 8.4 million.
So why is it so much worse in Florida? Part of it, officials say, is that Florida attracts more riders. We have year-round sunshine and also numerous events that draw riders from around the country, particularly during the cooler months. We do tend to see higher rates of motorcycle accident deaths in areas like Orlando, where we have higher tourism numbers.
The AAA figures ranked every county based on the number of bike deaths reported, but didn’t factor in population data.
Orange County in 2015 ranked No. 6 for the most motorcycle crash deaths in the state. That tied us with Lee County. Meanwhile, the county with the most motorcycle crash fatalities was Miami-Dade, which reported a total of 67 that year. Brevard reported 22 deaths and ranked ninth, while Volusia ranked eleventh with 21.
In the vast majority of cases, motorcycle accidents are preventable, and typically caused by operator error or recklessness – sometimes by the motorcyclist, but often by drivers of other vehicles. Those factors included:
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
Riders who did not wear a helmet tended to see worse crash outcomes. However, it should be noted it is legal to ride in Florida without a helmet.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Bad news for Bike Week: Florida leads nation in motorcycle deaths, March 13, 2017, By Christal Hayes, Orlando Sentinel
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Broward Teen Run Over By City Bus Settles County Lawsuit for $850,000, Feb. 16, 2017, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog