With gas prices soaring, many Americans are looking for ways to stay away from the gas pump. A lot of those folks are turning to two-wheeled vehicle to take the sting out of the cost of gasoline. Motorcycle and scooter use is on the rise. Along with this increase in riders comes an increase in motorcycle accidents. Drivers in Missouri are no exception. In 2005 there were 91 motorcycle accidents that ended in fatality in Missouri. This number represented 7.2 percent of the number of vehicle accidents that resulted in death. In 2006 there were 93 deaths (8.5 percent of the total). While nationally the number of fatalities from accidents decreased between 2005 and 2006, the number of motorcycle accidents increased. 4,576 riders were killed in 2005 and 4,810 riders died in 2006.
Motorcycle accidents happen for a variety of reasons. The largest number, by far, involve another vehicle, usually a passenger vehicle. Most of the drivers of these other vehicles claim not to have seen the bike at all or not to have seen it in time to avoid the accident. Intersections are one of the most dangerous locations for motorcycle riders and their passengers. A motorcycle already looks different than anything else on the road and the slightest distraction to an operator of another vehicle can render the motorcycle invisible. In most cases, the driver of the car or truck will violate the motorcycle riderís right-of-way and hit the bike. In accidents like this there is a 98 percent chance that injury will occur. There is a 45 percent chance that the injuries sustained will much more than minor. Motorcycle accidents that involve another vehicle make up three-fourths of the accidents that occur.
The other one-fourth of the accidents only involve the bike. It is estimated that 92 percent of the riders who have accidents are essentially untrained. Most of them are self-taught or have been taught by friends and family. In a lot of cases, a rider will enter a curve traveling too fast. If the rider tries to lean far enough to make a particularly sharp corner, it is possible that the tires will lose traction and slide out form under the bike. If that occurs, the bike will end up on its side and, most likely, slide along the roadway. If the rider, bike and any passengers slide into oncoming traffic or any barrier along the road, injuries will become more severe. The other possibility is that the rider will not lean far enough to make the corner and under steer. Again, it is possible for the rider to be sent into oncoming traffic or into anything else in the surroundings. In these single-vehicle crashes, there is a 96 percent chance of injury.
Other factors are also present in many accidents. About three percent can be contributed to some type of vehicle malfunction such as a flat tire or stalled engine. Another three percent involve the roadway itself, either imperfections such as potholes and crumbling pavement or animals in the path of the motorcycle. It is estimated that only about two percent of the accidents involve weather as a direct factor. Unfortunately, alcohol is still a factor in over fifty percent of the accidents. 37 percent of all motorcyclists were speeding at the time of the accident.
Helmets are required for all riders in the state of Missouri. It is estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that 752 lives might have been saved in 2006 with the use of head gear. To be allowed by law to ride a motorcycle in the state of Missouri, you must posses a Class M endorsement on your driverís license. To get your endorsement, you must get your riding permit by passing a written knowledge test and a vision exam. There are rider safety courses available to help train you in the proper safety rules. They also provide instruction in such things as turning, stopping, collision avoidance and maintenance of the bike. Your learnerís permit is good for six months. You must take and pass a road skills test to gain the final endorsement.