How dangerous is riding a motorcycle in Pennsylvania?

The return of spring is often a heralded time by motorcycle enthusiasts. However, the risk of being hit by a larger vehicle also returns.

The thrill and pleasure of the open road as experienced on a motorcycle is like none other. Motorcyclists in Pennsylvania anxiously await the return of spring each year for the chance to get back on their bikes. However, even while road conditions and weather may open the door for motorcycling, the dangers that come with the need to share the road with trucks, cars and other vehicles are also present.

Unlike their counterparts in other vehicles, motorcyclists naturally lack the protection that vehicle body shells can provide in the event that an accident should occur. They are therefore susceptible to serious consequences in even what may be considered a minor collision. Just how serious is this problem in Pennsylvania?

Statistics track motorcycle fatality counts

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the number of motorcyclists who have died each year between 2010 and 2014. Over this five-year period, the statewide motorcycle fatalities were as follows:

  • 223 in 2010
  • 199 in 2011
  • 210 in 2012
  • 182 in 2013
  • 185 in 2014

In looking at Monroe County and its six neighboring counties, only Luzerne County lost more motorcyclists over this same period of time than did Monroe County. A total of 30 bikers died in Luzerne County while 20 lives were lost in Monroe County. Northampton County followed closely with 19 biker deaths. Another 26 motorcycle fatalities happened in Pike, Wayne, Carbon and Lackawanna Counties combined.

Pennsylvania helmet laws

The Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that Pennsylvania had for some time required all bikers to wear helmets. However, now, a helmet is only required for riders younger than 21 or who have not had their licenses for at least two years. An exception can be made for people over 20 who have completed approved safety courses, allowing them to ride without helmets.

GoErie reports that the state does offer free motorcycle safety courses through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Recommendations for motorcyclists and family members

Even bikers who wear helmets and obey all traffic laws can become injured or be killed in accidents caused by other motorists’ negligence. In addition, the lack of a helmet does not indicate that a biker is responsible for an accident.

When a motorcyclist is hit by another vehicle, it is important that they are not allowed to assume responsibility that is not theirs due to others’ stereotypes or prejudices. Working with an attorney is recommended to help injured bikers or loved ones seek compensation after an accident.