Report: Pennsylvania motorcycle deaths rise after repeal of helmet law

In the 10 years since Pennsylvania lawmakers granted motorcycle riders the option of whether to wear a helmet of not, fatalities related to Pennsylvania motorcycle accidents have steadily climbed, according to a recent report by the Tribune-Review.

In fact, the report discovered that motorcycle fatalities increased nearly 35 percent in Pennsylvania since 2003. Specifically, while only 156 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2003, an alarming 210 fatalities were attributed to motorcycle accidents in 2012 – with 104 of those deaths involving motorcyclists who were not wearing a helmet.

Thankfully, the report did unearth some positive trends when it comes to Pennsylvania motorcycle fatalities. For instance, PennDOT records indicate that in 2012 only 5.19 deaths occurred on Pennsylvania roadways per 10,000 motorcycle registrations, compared to 5.92 deaths per 10,000 in 2003. Sadly, however, motorcycle registrations in Pennsylvania have also increased a staggering 53 percent since 2003 – meaning more motorcycles on the road, and thus more total motorcycle deaths.

Current Pennsylvania helmet laws

When Pennsylvania lawmakers passed SB 259 in 2003, they gave motorcyclists in Pennsylvania a choice in whether they wanted to wear helmets while riding, but only in instances in which the motorcyclist in question was 21-years-old or older and had a motorcycle license for at least two years or completed a motorcycle rider safety course.

Given that several motorcycle riders now opt not to wear a helmet, it only further bolsters the need to adhere to other motorcycle safety tips while riding this summer. For example, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers several recommendations for safe motorcycle operation, including:

  • Try to stay visible as many motorists will have difficulty seeing motorcycles
  • Be aware of blinds spots that cars and truck have
  • If another motorist doesn’t see the motorcycle, feel free to use the motorcycle’s horn to get his or her attention
  • Make sure there is enough space to respond to other motorists’ actions
  • Wear safety equipment, which not only includes helmets, but also thick protective clothing and eye protection

Unfortunately, these various tips can only protect Pennsylvania motorcyclists to a certain degree, especially when dealing with careless car or truck drivers. In these tragic instances in which another motorist injures a motorcyclist, he or she needs to know that remedies may be available.

Consequently, if you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, it is important to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. A skilled attorney can review the facts of your case and help ensure your rights are protected.