More Georgia motorcyclists are dying in crashes on our roads than ever
before. In a report released in January 2008,
Georgia Crash Analysis, Statistics & Information Notebook, the Georgia Department of Transportation (“Georgia DOT” or
“GADOT”) analyzed the information available at that time,
which was from 2000 to 2006. The Georgia DOT reports that between 2000
and 2006, 774 bikers lost their lives and 15,292 cyclists were injured
in motorcycle crashes here in the State of Georgia.
The Georgia Department of Transportation also reports that more Georgians
are riding motorcycles these days. In 2006, Georgia had 60.1% more motorcycles
registered than it did in 2000. The number of people dying in motorcycle
crashes increased at that same pace, rising by 60.76% over that same period.
As a motorcycle wreck lawyer, I knew how tragic motorcycle crashes can
be for bikers. Even so, I was surprised at how many motorcycle wrecks
we are having here in Georgia.
A person in a motorcycle wreck is far more likely to be injured than someone
riding in a car. The Georgia DOT notes that – fairly obviously –
motorcycles “are smaller than almost every other type of vehicle
on the road.” Of people who are riding in passenger cars and who
are in wrecks, 16% are injured or killed in the car wreck. By contrast,
72% of the people riding on motorcycles are injured or killed when they
are in a crash. Motorcyclists are also far more likely to be seriously
injured. Passenger car occupants receive serious injuries in only .6%
of all crashes. Motorcyclists, on the other hand, are seriously injured
in 10.8% of crashes involving a motorcycle.
The Georgia DOT statistics showed that motorcyclists are at a greater risk
of being injured, period – even moderately injured. People riding
in passenger cars received “moderate injuries” only 3.2% of
the time they were in wrecks. People riding on motorcycles, on the other
hand, received at least moderate injuries a whopping 41.3% of the time
they were in crashes.
These statistics show that a motorcyclists can do everything right, and
still be injured or killed in a crash. Passenger cars may not respect
the road space that a motorcycle needs – seeing the motorcycle as
somehow “less than” a full vehicle. When that happens, the
car may hit the motorcycle, causing a very serious wreck for the cyclist.
Even if the car does not hit the wreck, it may force the bike off the
road, with equally catastrophic consequences.
I am an attorney litigating motorcycle crash cases in Georgia, and so I
see the terrible consequences that can follow when a motorcycle is driven
off the road by a car that ignored Georgia law. Georgia law provides that
motorcycles have all the rights and responsibilities that cars do when
they are riding on Georgia roadways. See
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-310. Motorcycles are entitled to occupy the entire width of their lane. Given
that bikers are more likely to be injured if they are in an accident,
they need their space every bit as much – if not more — than
cars and trucks do.