Last year, there were 192 motorcyclist deaths in the state of Pennsylvania, despite the fact that the number of registered motorcycles actually decreased that year. In fact, there were fewer license motorcycles in 2016 than there were in 2012. Still, the number of those killed on motorcycles has increased each year since.
In 2003, Pennsylvania’s helmet law became effective. This law says that a rider over the age of 21 who has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for two full years (or has completed a rider safety course) is not required to wear a helmet. Still, research clearly shows that helmets save lives. Not only do riders sustain injuries much more often than those in passenger cars, but those without helmets sustain brain, face, and head injuries and are admitted to ICU at a higher rate than those who do not. A study by Liu et al. (2008) reported that helmet use reduced the odds of death by 42% and the odds of head injury by 69%.
Research also shows that motorcyclists have a much higher likelihood of dying in a crash than car occupants. In 2015, 4,976 people died in the U.S. in motorcycle crashes, and 8.3% increase from 2014; 178 of those were in the state of Pennsylvania alone. That same year, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured. That number rose even higher in 2016.
Of the 3,447 motorcycles involved in crashes last year in the state of Pennsylvania, fatalities involving drivers or passengers of motorcycles were nearly 7% higher than the previous year.
In 2015, speeding was a factor 33% of the time when motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes. Alcohol use was also a problem, with 27% of motorcycle rides having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drinking drivers also tended to use their helmets less (compared to those who were not drinking and driving their motorcycles).
Liu BC, Ivers R, Norton R, Boufous S, Blows S, Lo SK. Helmets for preventing injury in motorcycle riders. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008; doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004333.pub3