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Deaths From Austin Motorcycle Wrecks Double

Austin American Statesman writer Tony Plohetski reported this morning that in 2008, the number of deaths in Austin motorcycle crashes more than doubled.  From the article:

The deaths have become part of an alarming reality in Austin: The number of people killed in motorcycle crashes last year more than doubled from 2007, rising from eight to 18. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 31 percent of the city’s overall traffic fatalities in 2008, compared with 13 percent in 2007, according to police statistics.

Law enforcement officials said the increase appears to be following a national and statewide trend that they think is partially the result of more drivers finding cheaper transportation during last year’s gas price surge.

While state and national statistics are not yet available, anecdotal stories from officers around the state say that motorcycle deaths are increasing everywhere.

The article suggests two safety tips for riders:  (1) wear your helmet — while Texas has modified its mandatory helmet law, the best way to protect yourself is by wearing a helmet; and (2) wear bright clothing — a safety vest of other similar item will help others on the road see you.  Other safety tips are available at the Motorcycle Safety Group website, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website.

I will also add that from our experience in handling motorcycle cases (including Mark’s trying one last month where a trucker ran over a motorcyclist), victims of motorcycle crashes shouldn’t expect a fair shake in the civil justice system.  No matter how hard we try, there is a bias among jurors and insurance adjusters against motorcyclists.  So, if you are a cyclist, realize that you are often the one best able to protect yourself.

And perhaps the most interesting part of the article, the chairman of the Texas Motorcycle Rights Association goes only by the name Sputnik.  Who knew?

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