Motorcycle accident fatalities in Florida increased by 100 people or 22 percent last year compared to the year before, making the state the deadliest one in the country for motorcyclists compared to other states nationwide.
"This is a disturbing trend that will hopefully reverse course this year," said South Florida motorcycle accident attorney Adriana Gonzalez of Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. "After steady declines in recent years, it's very concerning when the number of motorcycle accident deaths increases by more than 100 people in a single year."
A total of 550 people died in motorcycle accidents in Florida in 2015, according to the most recent statistics released by the Governor's Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), a federal government organization that compiles data each year nationwide about accident statistics. The previous year, 450 people died in motorcycle accidents in Florida.
As a result of the increase in the number of motorcycle accident fatalities in 2015 compared to 2014, Florida now ranks higher than California and Texas, which had more motorcycle accident fatalities in 2014 compared to Florida. And Florida's fatality figures for 2015 are the highest in the state since 2008, when 556 people died in motorcycle accidents statewide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Is Florida the only state with more motorcycle accident fatalities?
While the sharp increase in the number of motorcycle accident deaths in Florida is startling, the state is not the only one that experienced more motorcycle accident fatalities last year. Nationwide, the number of people who died in motorcycle crashes increased by 10 percent compared to 2014, according to the Governor's Highway Safety Administration.
In particular, 22 states including Florida experienced double-digit percentage increases in the number of fatal motorcycle accidents last year. The states with the largest percentage increases in the number of motorcycle accident fatalities last year include Maine (182 percent increase), Vermont (71 percent), South Carolina (53 percent) and New Hampshire (53 percent). But no single state came anywhere near Florida in the sheer number of additional motorcycle accident fatalities in 2015 compared to 2014.
Based on such statistics, motorcyclists last year nationwide were 26 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared people traveling in passenger vehicles, according to the GHSA motorcycle accident study. "These sobering findings provide a stark reminder of how susceptible motorcyclists are to fatal and life-threatening injuries," Richard Retting, who co-authored the GHSA report, said in a statement released as part of the GHSA study.
Why are there so many fatal motorcycle crashes in Florida?
In the GHSA study, Retting identified four key risk factors that contributed to the large number of motorcycle accident fatalities in 2015. These four risk factors are:
- Alcohol involvement
- Not wearing a helmet
- Invalid licensure (motorcyclists without a valid license)
The study also noted that accidents involving motorcycles and other vehicles often involve drivers "violating the motorcyclist's right of way." The report continues, "The most common collision type is when the other motor vehicle is turning left while the motorcyclist is going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles."
Far too many drivers simply don't pay attention to motorcyclists when they're on the road, according to attorney Charles E. Cartwright of Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., which handles motorcycle accident cases throughout South Florida. "Many people often simply don't look for motorcyclists when they're driving," Cartwright said. "And that can be especially dangerous in South Florida, where there are so many bikers on the road. That's why we take such cases so seriously at our law firm."