Motorcycle accidents are a significant concern in West Virginia, with varying trends in terms of total accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Here is a look at the most recent available motorcycle crash statistics. If you are injured in a collision, a Charleston, WV motorcycle accident attorney can help you and your family.
Comparing West Virginia Motorcycle Fatalities to the Rest of the U.S.
West Virginia may have a lower number of fatal motorcycle accidents compared to many other parts of the United States. However, recent data shows that motorcycle fatalities increased 36% since 2019. 38 motorcycle riders were killed, which is a fatality rate of 7 deaths per 10k registered motorcycle owners. These fatalities are believed to be influenced by alcohol, helmet usage, and climate. The states with the highest rates of motorcycle fatalities are Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
How Does Alcohol Play a Role in Motorcycle Collisions?
Alcohol was involved in over 30% of motorcycle fatalities. Additionally, 26% of fatalities involved riders who had alcohol in their system but were under the legal limit. In 15% of cases, riders had a blood alcohol (BAC) level that was twice the legal limit.
Alcohol impairs a person’s judgment, reaction time, and coordination. When a motorcyclist consumes alcohol, their ability to make quick decisions and respond to sudden changes in traffic conditions diminishes. This can lead to dangerous situations on the road. In addition, alcohol affects:
- Motor Skills: Motorcyclists will have a harder time maintaining proper balance and control over their bikes. This impairment can make it challenging to navigate turns, curves, and unexpected obstacles.
- Perception: Alcohol reduces a rider’s ability to accurately perceive their surroundings. This includes impaired depth perception, decreased peripheral vision, and difficulty focusing on multiple objects at once. As a result, motorcyclists under the influence might not notice potential hazards in time to avoid them.
- Risk-Taking Behavior: Alcohol can lead to riskier behavior, such as speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and ignoring traffic signals. This reckless behavior can significantly increase the likelihood of accidents involving both the impaired motorcyclist and other road users.
- Reaction Time: A rider’s reaction time will noticeably slow down. In situations where split-second decisions are required, impaired reaction time can lead to collisions that could have been avoided if the rider was sober.
To mitigate the role of alcohol in motorcycle accidents, it is crucial for riders to avoid drinking before riding, designate a sober driver, and be aware of their own limits.
Helmet Use by Motorcyclists in the U.S.
Motorcycle helmet use has declined by 3% nationwide, which is a very concerning trend with potential implications for road safety. While the specific reasons for this decline can vary, several factors might contribute to the reduction in helmet use among motorcyclists:
Some riders may choose not to wear helmets due to personal preferences or beliefs, despite the known safety benefits of helmet use.
Lax Helmet Laws
Some states have relaxed helmet laws allowing riders to choose whether to wear one.
Peer pressure and the influence of other riders who don’t wear helmets can impact an individual’s decision to wear one.
Some riders find helmets uncomfortable or restrictive, especially during hot weather, which might discourage consistent helmet use.
Lack of awareness about the importance of helmets or misinformation about their protective benefits could contribute to reduced usage.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws & Fatalities by State
Helmets are a critical safety tool that can save lives and minimize traumatic brain injuries. Advocacy efforts, public awareness campaigns, and research have continued to demonstrate the benefits of helmets, but their use is still declining. Motorcycle helmet laws vary by state, with most requiring riders and passengers under 18 to wear a helmet. While adult riders can choose. Only 18 states require all riders to wear helmets.
The declining helmet use in areas with high numbers of motorcycle fatalities is one of the most concerning trends. Helmet usage in 2021 from 2020 decreased 2% in riders and a shocking 20% in passengers. In West Virginia, 20 of the motorcyclists killed in accidents were not wearing a helmet.
Motorcycle Safety Tips for Bikers & Drivers
- Wear protective gear (e.g., helmet, eyewear, gloves, sturdy footwear, etc.) In addition, check the fit of your helmet to ensure it will provide optimal protection
- Ride within your skill level by choosing a motorcycle that suits your experience
- Obey traffic laws
- Be visible and wear bright or reflective clothing
- Maintain safe following distance
- Use turn signals
- Stay alert and continuously scan the road for potential hazards
- Never ride under the influence
- Look twice for motorcycles since they can be harder to spot
- Give motorcycles extra space
- Use turn signals to indicate your intentions early
- Don’t drive distracted, put your phone away and avoid eating or engaging in other distracting activities
- Be extra cautious when passing riders
- Always check blind spots
- Be patient
- Expect the unexpected since motorcyclists can change speed and direction quickly
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a West Virginia Motorcycle Wreck
After a fatal motorcycle accident in West Virginia, loved ones of the deceased have the right to pursue compensation from the responsible parties. However, the representative of the deceased person’s estate must file the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate and eligible beneficiaries, such as the surviving spouse, children, or parents. The compensation obtained from the lawsuit will then be distributed according to the deceased’s will or the state’s law on intestate succession.
While it is not a legal requirement to have a lawyer when filing a wrongful death claim, seeking legal representation is highly advisable due to the complex and intricate nature of these cases. Motorcycle wrongful death claims involve navigating legal procedures, gathering evidence, proving negligence, and negotiating with insurance companies or opposing parties. An experienced Charleston, WV wrongful death lawyer has the knowledge and resources to advocate for your family’s rights effectively. They can guide you through the process, handle all legal aspects, accurately assess the value of the claim, and strive to secure the maximum compensation possible.