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Injuries, deaths from motorcycle accidents cost $16 billion

Recent traffic study results may interest some Tennessee motorcyclists. The cost related to injuries and deaths due to motorcycle accidents in the U.S. was estimated at approximately $16 billion during 2010. However, the entire cost of motorcycle accidents is probably much higher given the medical expenses involved in long-term treatments, which are difficult to measure, according to a report released by the government.

Motorcyclists are more prone to fatal accidents than drivers of other vehicles. According to the report by the Government Accountability Office, the risk of death that the motorcyclists face in a crash is 30 times higher than that faced by the drivers and occupants of a car. During 2010, 82,000 bikers were injured in road accidents, and around 4,500 bikers were killed. For each fatal accident, the average cost was estimated around $1.2 million, with the cost for injuries ranging from $2,500 to $1.4 million, contingent on the seriousness of the injuries.

Also shared in the report was that pinpointing the full cost is difficult because the treatment of serious injuries can be expensive and time-consuming and the follow-up estimates are conducted for only the first few years. The injuries may lead to partial or permanent disability, thus affecting the victims' employment and standard of living. These incidental costs are hard to measure.

The law in Tennessee requires all motorcyclists to wear helmets while driving. According to the GAO report, wearing a helmet is the only proven strategy in reducing injuries and fatalities during accidents. Studies show that the use of helmets has reduced the death risk by 39 percent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that the use of helmets saved as many as 1,550 lives in 2010.

But helmet laws have met strong opposition. Only 19 states in U.S. have such laws. Partial helmet laws, which require the use of helmets only by a certain class, are in effect in 28 states. And states like Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire have no laws regarding the use of helmets.

Source: NPR, "Motorcycle Deaths, Injuries Cost $16 Billion," Nov. 27, 2012

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