Recent Motorcycle Fatalities and the Repealed Helmet Law
Two recent fatal motorcycle accidents in Florida have drawn attention to the danger of motorcycle riding, and renewed attention to Florida’s repealed helmet law. In an accident in Nassau County, a 24-year-old man ran a red light and collided with a pickup truck along Florida SR 200. The young man was transported to Baptist Nassau hospital, where he was declared dead. He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Authorities are still investigating what led up to the crash. In a different incident occurring in Sarasota, a 23-year-old man was driving his motorcycle along the right side of University Parkway when a driver of a sedan traveling in the opposite direction turned left against a red light in front of the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist, unable to stop in time, collided with the car and flipped over the right side. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, and had been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. The driver of the sedan was charged with failure to stop at a red light, and was not injured in the crash.
Two local motorcycle deaths in such quick succession highlights how dangerous roads can be for motorcyclists. While the state of Florida once had a universal motorcycle helmet law, in 2000 then-Governor Jeb Bush repealed the requirement that adults wear helmets. It was then that motorcycle fatalities began to rise sharply. Where the state averaged 160 motorcycle-related deaths a year prior to the change in the law, that number rose to 246 deaths by 2001, and 550 by 2006. Since that time, Florida began requiring motorcycle registrants to take a safety class, and by 2012, annual motorcycle fatalities decreased to 457, yet remaining nearly three times the number of fatalities than prior to the change in the law.
Even when taking proper precautions, the roads can be dangerous for motorcyclists. While not required by law, the young man from Sarasota was wearing a helmet, and was still a victim to another driver’s negligence in running a red light. One of the most common ways for motorcyclists to be injured in crashes is by a vehicle turning left in front of them so late that the motorcyclist cannot avoid the car. Passenger vehicle drivers often do not scan the roadways for motorcycles, and frequently misjudge their speed.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, call Pensacola motorcycle attorneys Whibbs Stone Barnett for a free consultation, at 888-219-4561.