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"MotorcycleGeorgia’s DOT released a 2008 study analyzing crash data –
including data about motorcycle wrecks here in Georgia – that it
had collected between the years 2000 and 2006. The National Highway Traffic
and Safety Administration, “NHTSA”, has released several studies
covering that same timeframe, as well as earlier years. For example, a
NHTSA study called Recent Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes was published
in 2001, and looked at the fatal crash data from NHTSA’s Fatality
Analysis Reporting System (“FARS”). NHTSA updated some of
its information in 2010, in a report called
Motorcycle Causes and Outcomes: Pilot Study. “The number of motorcyclist crash-related fatalities has more than
doubled during the past 10 years.”

I am a lawyer handling Georgia motorcycle crashes. In comparing the national
data put out by NHTSA to the Georgia data released by the GA DOT, I noted
that we are seeing the same terrible statistics in our state that NHTSA
is finding nationally. Both NHTSA and the Georgia DOT have found that
motorcycle fatalities are clearly on the rise. Nationally, NHTSA documented
that the rise began in 1998 and 1999, and has continued in an unbroken
chain up through the latest available data.

According to the NHTSA’s report, the FARS data shows that more motorcyclists
are dying each year in motorcycle crashes. In 1998, 2294 people died in
motorcycle wrecks. The number ticked upward to 2483 in 1999, and to 2897
in 2000. The increase continued into 2001, when 3197 people were killed
in motorcycle crashes, and in 2002, when 3270 people died in motorcycle
wrecks. From that point on, however, the number of deaths in motorcycle
crashes began to jump each year: 3714 fatal crashes in 2003, 4028 in 2004,
4576 in 2005, 4837 in 2006, and 5154 in 2007. In other words, between
1998 and 2007, the number of fatalities in motorcycle wrecks more than
doubled. According to the Department of Transportation’s
Action Plan to Reduce Motorcycle Fatalities (Oct. 2007) (found under “Motorcycle Safety Guidelines), 11% of
all U.S. motor vehicle fatalities occur in motorcycle wrecks.

The purpose of NHTSA’s latest study was to devise a procedure for
collecting more information on how wrecks happen. NHTSA’s pilot
program devised a plan for evaluating how and why motorcycle crashes occur.

The program acknowledged that a motorcycle may crash because the cyclist
loses control. On the other hand, the motorcycle may lose control because
it gets forced off the road. As a motorcycle wreck lawyer here in Georgia,
I certainly have seen that some car drivers do not follow the rule set out in
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-310, which requires cars to share the road with motorcycles. To take into
account these types of situations, where cars caused the motorcycle to
wreck, NHTSA called for a study that would look at how many other vehicles
were involved in the collision

Motorcyclists also may be injured when a roadway is defective, when a
truck is parked too close to the side of the road, or when highway construction
is not clearly marked, or is allowed to interfere with traffic on the
roadway. A pedestrian or animal may run in front of the motorcyclists,
forcing him to lay down his bike to avoid hitting the person or animal.
A car may run into a motorcycle at an intersection, or may try to pass
too closely, and wind up sideswiping the motorcycle as it is proceeding
lawfully down a road or highway. An automobile driver who is not be keeping
a proper lookout may run into the motorcycle from behind. The car may
have crossed the center line and run head-on into the motorcycle, or vice
versa – the motorcycle may have crossed the center line wound up
in a head-on crash with a car.


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