America’s distracted driving epidemic is increasing the amount of motorcycle fatalities throughout the country. A study that was recently published in Social Science & Medicine discovered that states who implement strict law bans on cell phone usage reduce motorcycle fatality rates by as much as 11%.
Researchers analyzed the total number of traffic-related fatalities from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System between the years of 2005 – 2015: specifically, motorcycle-related deaths throughout the country.
As state laws vary around the country, researchers were able to compare the number of motorcycle fatalities by states that have strict bans on cell phone use to states that have little to no bans on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle.
In conclusion, strict bans on cell phone usage while driving seem to be effective. Gulcin Gumus, Ph.D., an associate professor in health administration in the Department of Management Programs at FAU’s College of Business stated, “While it’s not clear that these laws have had an impact on reducing the overall number of traffic fatalities, when we focus specifically on motorcycles, we find that these laws are having a major impact in reducing deaths among motorcycle riders.”
94% of traffic accidents are caused by human-error and are preventable. Drivers of trucks or cars are mostly at fault in motorcycle fatalities for often failing to yield to the right of way to a smaller vehicle, and simply, drivers are not expecting to see motorcycles on the road.
President of Wings of Gold MC of Palm Beach, Edward Davila, Jr., stated that unaware motorists are his biggest concern when riding his motorcycle. “On a recent Sunday drive to church, I was nearly side-swiped twice. On a drive on Interstate 95 with a few friends, a woman texting on her phone drifted into one of their lanes.”
Just recently, Edward Davila, Jr., has said goodbye to four of his friends who passed away while riding their motorcycle. In each case, another vehicle was at fault, cutting one off, pushing one into a wall and hitting another head-on.
“Every day about nine Americans are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in traffic crashes that involve distracted drivers,” said research Michael T. French. “While our initial goal was to understand whether these laws save lives on the road, the broader application of our findings is even more powerful.”
Strict bans on cell phone use while driving does save lives. Researchers are hopeful that these findings will help push lawmakers to create new legislation to strengthen texting/handheld bans along with their enforcement to help improve safety and save lives, especially among motorcyclists.
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