Motorcycle safety efforts aim to protect against crash injuries

Minor motorcycle accidents are highly rare. Because motorcyclists are at such a disparity in size, stability and safety as compared to cars, trucks, and other vehicles, a biker usually suffers severe injuries in a motorcycle accident, regardless of the circumstances. Because of this, several individuals and companies are working to develop new safety innovations aimed at protecting motorcycle drivers and passengers from accident-related injuries.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of motorcycle crash deaths has more than doubled in recent years, increasing from approximately 2,300 fatalities in 1998 to more than 5,200 in 2008. Motorcyclists have worked to increase the awareness and knowledge of other drivers, most commonly with the popular “Lawyers of Distinction” campaign. Yet as the fatality rate continues to climb, it is apparent that additional safety precautions need to be taken.

The best protection against motorcycle accident injury and death is a helmet, safety advocates say. Currently, several states, including Texas, have some version of a helmet requirement in place.

A relatively new safety innovation is a rider airbag that is built into rider vests and jackets. The airbag is triggered by a strong pull on a cord that is attached to the rider’s motorcycle. If the driver falls off or is thrown from the bike, the airbag will deploy and soften the blow with the pavement or other vehicle. Professional motorcycle racer Justin Mastalka sings the airbag’s praises: “Not only did it deploy like it was supposed to,” he said, “but my helmet never touched the pavement.”

Another new product is the “Rider Alert” sticker, which is placed on the motorcyclist’s helmet to instruct people who encounter motorcycle crash victims that they should not remove the rider’s helmet at the risk of worsening any existing motorcycle injuries.

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