Maine Motorcycle Deaths

According to Bangor Daily News, there have already been more fatal Maine motorcycle accidents this year than in all of 2016. The news comes as two more Maine men died this past week.

In total, 20 people have died due to bike accidents this year, with an astounding 9 dead in September alone. The age range has been from 25 to 81.

The number, though high, is not nearly as high as the record, which was set in 1991 at 34 and nearly equaled in 2015 with 32.

Still, the high number of deaths is concerning. If you ride a motorcycle, you probably know the risks involved, but it is worth pointing them out again.

First of all, it is crucial to wear a helmet. About half of the deaths this year were due to people not wearing helmets, an easy problem to foresee and correct.

Beyond that, it is important to stay attentive. A large number of accidents come from drivers ahead of the biker turning left and neither party paying enough attention.

This is a serious point. There are numerous potential injuries that you could suffer from even if an accident isn’t fatal. Among them, some would be debilitating, such as spinal cord injuries, head trauma, or internal organ damage. Even those injuries likely to heal, such as broken bones, sprains, and lacerations could take a long time to heal and may require significant rehabilitation.

Despite these well-known issues, the number of bikers in Maine has generally continued to rise, from 56,050 in 2011 to 59,116 in 2015, although there was a slight decrease in 2016.

This is, of course, not just a Maine problem. There are significant numbers of motorcyclist deaths and injuries all along the East Coast and indeed throughout the country. In 2014, there were 4,295 deaths throughout the US and 92,000 injuries. That was a decrease in deaths from the year before but a significant increase in injuries.

So, what can be done? Some states make helmets mandatory, which can reduce the risks for riders. In Maine, in 2015, a mandatory 15-hour course was introduced called the Basic RiderCourse, which was designed to give hands-on training to help prepare riders for potential accident situations.

Otherwise, more stringent enforcement of laws that prosecute driving under the influence could help reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents.

All of these are good measures and should be taken up, but there is likely no complete solution for the risks inherent in riding a motorcycle. The rider is simply more exposed to all the most common dangers of driving and lacks the protections other vehicles offer.

With that being the case, it’s unlikely Maine or any other state could reduce the number of deaths below a certain point, and certainly never to zero.

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