The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety reports more people have died so far in Maine motorcycle accidents than in all of last year. In total, 18 people died in fatal motorcycle crashes in 2016, while as of the end of September 2017, 20 people had been killed in such crashes.
The victims ranged in age from 25 to 81, and aside from two who were females, the overwhelming majority of riders affected were male. State statistics show more than half of the riders in fatal crashes weren’t wearing helmets. While Maine does have a motorcycle helmet law, M.R.S. 29-2083, it is not a universal helmet law, meaning only specific categories of riders are required to wear one. Those are operators and riders under 18, as well as those operating a motorcycle with a learner’s permit or within one year of completing the driving test or while riding as a passenger with someone who is required to wear a helmet.
In those situations, when it comes to personal injury litigation, this fact could be used to reduce the damages awarded to motorcycle accident victims. However, it does not in and of itself release negligent drivers from liability. Anyone injured in a motorcycle accident or survivors of those killed in motorcycle crashes – helmet or no helmet – should discuss their legal options with an experienced injury lawyer.
Two years ago, the legislature also passed a new law, requiring those who want to operate a motorcycle to take a 15-hour Basic Rider Course, which combines both classroom instruction and actual hands-on training.
The Bangor Daily News reported recently the number of motorcycle registrations has risen over the last five years. At its highest, it was more than 59,000 in in 2015. Last year, there were just 40 fewer registrations.
Of course, it’s not just motorcycle accident fatalities that have been on the rise. So far this year, a total of 123 people have been killed in Maine auto accidents, compared to 105 at this same time last year. That’s according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The most recent data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on motorcycles are based on 2015 statistics. That year, nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in the U.S., which was an 8 percent increase from the previous year. Additionally, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured. When you account for per-vehicle-miles-traveled, motorcyclists are 20 times more likely to be involved in a fatal traffic accident than those in passenger vehicles.
Between 2006 and 2015, motorcycle deaths nationally increased by 3 percent, with the largest group being the 40-and-older male cohort.
In motorcycle collisions involving two or more vehicles, almost 75 percent were frontal crashes. Only about 7 percent involved rear-end crashes. In general, though, motorcycles were more commonly involved in crashes with fixed objects than other vehicles.
Passengers of motorcyclists involved in one-vehicle accidents may also have a number of legal options. They can take action against the operator, seeking bodily injury liability coverage. If the operator is not insured, or if that insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of the passenger’s injuries and damages, the passenger can further file a claim with his or her own insurer – specifically for uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits.
If you are a victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
More fatal motorcycle crashes in Maine so far this year than in all of 2016, Sept. 29, 2017, By Nok-Noi Ricker, Bangor Daily News