Motorcycle fatalities are climbing in Missouri.
According to MoDOT, so far this year, there have been 65 motorcyclist fatalities — an increase of 25 percent from this time last year. Thirty-five of these motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet.
State transportation officials said there were only two such fatalities at this point last year.
The increase in fatalities isn’t surprising. Last year our state repealed a mandatory helmet law for motorcycle riders. Even supporters of the measure conceded serious injuries and fatalities from motorcycle crashes would likely rise after the repeal. That generally has been the case in other states that have repealed helmet laws.
There is no serious debate that motorcycle helmet laws save lives. Study upon study have demonstrated the effectiveness of helmets in saving lives.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 37 of every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes could have been saved had they been wearing helmets, which reduce motorcycle rider fatalities by 22-37 percent and brain injuries by 44-65 percent.
That’s why MoDOT encourages all motorcyclists to wear a helmet to be as safe as possible. Current Missouri law requires riders under the age of 26 or anyone operating under an instruction permit to wear a DOT-compliant helmet. But if you want to reduce your risk of serious injury or death, you should always wear a helmet.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, motorcycle fatalities have been increasing even before the repeal of the helmet law and most of those accidents could have been prevented.
Investigators say many motorcycle crashes occur because someone was speeding. So far this year, the Missouri Highway Patrol has issued 16,000 speeding tickets where drivers were going at least 20 miles-per-hour over the limit. That is an 9 percent increase from 2020.
In order to keep everyone on the roads safe, troopers encourage drivers and motorcycle riders to watch their speed, wear a helmet or seat belt, and take the extra time to pay attention to your surroundings.
MoDOT says other motorists can help improve the safety of motorcyclists by paying attention and looking twice for motorcycles, as they are more susceptible to being hidden in a vehicle’s blind spots or simply being overlooked. Always allow motorcycles a full lane width.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, accidents are more prevalent between Memorial Day and Labor Day so this is the time drivers need to be extra cautious when on the road.