A Morgan County man died after an accident in West Liberty, March 23, 2013.
Joshua Branham, 24, was driving a 1983 Suzuki GS550 motorcycle on KY 191 around 7 p.m. when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed. Kentucky State Police said the vehicle crossed a creek and struck an embankment. Braham was pronounced dead at the scene, which happened near Barker Branch. According to the Morgan County Coroner, alcohol and drugs are not considered to be factors in the crash.
Related: What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), per vehicle mile traveled in 2010, motorcyclists were about 30 times more likely to be in a fatal accident than passenger car occupants. That's very alarming. Here are some other motorcycle statistics:
- 4,502 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2010.
- Motorcycle-related deaths have grown by 55% since 2010.
- The economic cost from crash-related injuries in deaths totaled $12 billion in one year alone.
Kentucky law (KRS 189.285) defines motorcycle as:
“Motorcycle means any motor-driven vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the operator and designed to travel on not more than three (3) wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding tractors and vehicles on which the operator and passengers ride in an enclosed cab and excluding a moped."
In 2012, 78 out of 746 highway fatalities involved a motorcycle. According to Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, Director of Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director, increasing motorcycle helmet use can save lives and money. Likewise, NHTSA revealed that helmets saved the lives of around 1,784 motorcyclists in 2007. It added that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, 800 more lives could have been saved. The use of helmet is said to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries.
Kentucky is among the 28 U.S. States which implement a partial helmet law. The state has repealed its universal helmet law in 1988. You must wear a helmet in Kentucky if you are:
- Anyone under the age of 21 who is operating a motorcycle, a passenger on a motorcycle or in a sidecar attachment
- Anyone who possesses a motorcycle instruction permit and who is operating a motorcycle
- Anyone who has held a valid motorcycle operator’s license, or combination motor vehicle-motorcycle operator’s license, for less than one year and who is operating a motorcycle
The difference a helmet can make
The shift from universal to partial helmet increased motorcyclist fatalities by 58%. All states that have done the same have experienced an increase in fatality rates. Motorcyclists deaths jumped to 108% in Louisiana, 81% in Florida, 31% in Texas and 21% in Arkansas. In states with partial helmet laws or no law at all, helmet use was only 55%. This is far from the 96% of helmet usage in states with universal helmet laws.
As a Kentucky Motorcycle Accident Attorney, I encourage riders and passengers to protect themselves by wearing a helmet. Here are other safety tips recommended by CDC:
- Never ride your motorcycle after drinking
- Don’t let friends ride impaired
- Wear protective clothing
- Avoid tailgating
- Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution
We want everyone to enjoy their ride. We also want them to be safe while riding their motorcycle. Please always wear a helmet. It may seem uncool or unnecessary, but it could save your life if you're in an accident.