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According to the Georgia Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information Notebook,
a January 2008 report released by the Georgia Department of Transportation
(“Georgia DOT” or “GADOT”), “[m]otorcyclists
are at greater risk of being injured or killed in motor vehicle crashes.”

I am a Georgia motorcycle accident lawyer, and I represent motorcyclists
and their families in the lawsuits that follow these crashes. I have been
surprised to learn that motorcycle deaths are increasing, even as deaths
from other types of motor vehicle crashes are decreasing. For some reason
motorcycle wrecks appear to be becoming more dangerous over time, instead
of less dangerous.

In just the seven years between 2000 and 2006, 774 people died on Georgia
roads as a result of crashes involving motorcycles. The number of injuries
from motorcycle wrecks was even more staggering. According to the GADOT
statistics, 15,292 people were injured in motorcycle crashes in Georgia
over just that seven-year period.

Deaths from motorcycle crashes have been increasing in the State of Georgia,
as well as in the rest of the United States. Furthermore, the deaths caused
by motorcycle crashes have been increasing as a percentage of all deaths
related to motor vehicle crashes in Georgia. According to the Crash Statistics
put out by the Georgia DOT, of every 11 people killed in crashes on Georgia
highways, one died in a motorcycle crash. Where 3.9% of highway deaths
involved a motorcycle in 2000, by 2006 the percentage had risen to 8.69%
of all fatalities from wrecks on Georgia roads.

At least part of the increase is as a result of a large increase in the
number of motorcycles being driven in the State of Georgia. According
to Georgia’s DOT, “the number of registered motorcycles increased
60.1%” during the seven-year period.

Although the number of motorcycles being driven on Georgia roads increased,
that change only accounted for a portion of the increase in deaths of
people riding motorcycles. Although the motorcycle injury crash rate did
increase by 25.34%, the rate of deaths from motorcycle crashes increased
at a much higher rate — by 60.76% in the same seven years. The Georgia
DOT concluded that the “dramatic increase in fatal motorcycle crashes”
was “not due solely to the increase in registered vehicles because
the motorcycle crash rate did not increase as much as the fatal crash

Georgia’s Department of Transportation concluded that one reason
for the increase in deaths from motorcycle crashes might be driver age,
noting “a gradual but dramatic increase in motorcycle fatalities
for middle age and older bikers.” While the number of motorcycle
drivers in fatal crashes increased by 117.1% for drivers under age 40,
it increased a staggering 254.6% for drivers over the age of 39.

Even so, it seems a bigger question is left unanswered – why are
older drivers dying more frequently in motorcycle crashes? The Georgia
DOT report reasons that older drivers do not see as well, have more trouble
turning their heads, lose bone density (so that they are more likely to
break a bone), have slower reflexes, and tend to lose hearing. But of
course, older drivers had all of those disadvantages long before the year
2000. Those differences would explain why the motorcycle fatality rate
would be higher for middle age and older bikers than for younger bikers,
but it would not explain why the fatality rate would be increasing among
those middle age and older bikers. The DOT may have additional information
that shows that more middle age and older bikers are taking to the highways
than ever before, and that could explain the difference.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.