U.S. Traffic Deaths Are on the Rise: Are Helmet Laws to Blame?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently published an alarming statistic– for the first time in almost ten years, the number of traffic deaths increased. In 2011, the total number of traffic fatalities soared to the highest it has been since 2008. The NHTSA estimates that 34,080 people were killed in traffic accidents in 2012, which begs the question, “Who is to blame?” According to NHTSA, the increase in traffic deaths could be attributed to a “shift away from motorcycle helmet laws”.

According to The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), fatalities involving motorcycles account for 14.7 percent of overall traffic fatalities. This percentage is the highest it has ever been. The GHSA estimates approximately 5,000 motorcyclists were involved in fatal accidents during 2012. Why the drastic increase? NHTSA Administrator David Strickland remarked that the increase in traffic fatalities involving motorcycles could be attributed to several different factors. Strickland said, “With a rebounding economy there’s increased discretionary driving, which is clearly always the leader in terms of dangerous driving scenarios.” Other reasons could include warmer winter weather which allowed for more opportunities for motorcycle riding, and higher gas prices, which increased motorcycles sales and put more riders on the roads.

However, the most surprising reason for the increase in traffic fatalities involving motorcycles may be that many states have overturned laws requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. In 1997, 26 of the 50 states required that motorcyclists wear a helmet. However, only 19 states total require riders to wear helmets as of today.

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and helmet advocacy groups are working hard to alert the public of the growing need to require helmets.

Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, Inc. has tried to successful conclusion many cases involving motorcycle accidents and fatalities. We encourage all of our clients, as well as their friends and families, to always wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle. However, with the growing number of cars and motorcycles on the road, accidents are bound to happen. It is important to have quality legal representation on your side in the event that an accident does occur.

Have you been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another driver? Call us today for a free consultation.

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