In early May, the Washington Post Local reported that a Virginia couple died in a motorcycle crash in Delaware. Headed westbound on Seashore Highway near Georgetown, their motorcycle suddenly went into eastbound lanes and off the road. Mary Green, 76, of Warrenton, VA, was thrown from the motorcycle, and Walter Green, 79, fell when the motorcycle hit a wooden post and rail. Both were taken to nearby hospitals and were pronounced dead.
This tragic accident teaches us that the topic of motorcycle safety needs to be revisited regularly in Virginia.
What is the truth about motorcycle crashes in Virginia?
Motorcycle crash fatality statistics have fluctuated through the years. They went from 44 in 2001 to 70 in 2006, jumped suddenly to 126 in 2007, and decreased in 2008 (79) and 2009 (71). The number of injuries increased steadily from 1,506 in 2001 to 2,404 in 2008, declining to 1,938 in 2009.
The figures show that since 2001, the number of fatalities and injuries have increased by 61 and 29 percent respectively. Does this mean
that motorcycle riding is totally out of control?
Looking at the evolution of motorcycle registrations gives us part of the answer. Starting with 89,654 in 2001, registrations went up every year to reach 177,147 in 2008, a 97.5 percent increase.
Fatality and injury rates should be viewed in relation to number of miles traveled, but these statistics are unavailable at present for Virginia. However, simply dividing the number of fatalities by the number of registered motorcycles gives us an indication that the fatality rate has dropped slightly, from 0.49 fatalities per 1,000 registered motorcycles in 2001 to 0.44 in 2008. Calculated the same way, the injury rate dropped from 16.8 in 2001 to 13.6 in 2008.
The number of bikers killed in accidents in the age group of 21-35 increased 50% over the 2001 to 2008 period, while fatalities in the age group of 36-50 doubled and those in the age group of 51-65 tripled over the same period.
Older motorcyclists have increased in number, not necessarily with positive results. In the last eight years, the fatality rate has barely changed, while the injury rate has dropped sharply. Does this mean that older bikers involved in crashes have a lower probability of surviving? Further analysis may be necessary to answer the question, but one thing is for sure-there is still a lot of progress to be made in motorcycle safety in Virginia.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Virginia motorcycle accident, please contact our Warrenton or Culpeper office today. You can discuss your accident case with one of our skilled and dedicated attorneys to see how we can help you secure fair compensation.