Another important factor in motorcycle accidents is alcohol, which is consumed by the motorcyclist. A motorcycle requires more skill and coordination to operate than a car. According to NHTSA data, 43% of motorcyclists who died in single-vehicle accidents had alcohol problems. Among all classes of vehicles, motorcycles had the highest mortality rate from drunk driving.
Drunk driving of any kind is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious car accidents, involving injury and even death. Despite data indicating how dangerous it is to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated, recent accident data indicate that a large number of motorcyclists drive while intoxicated. According to a press release from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the percentage of drunk motorcyclists (motorcycle operators with a BAC of 0.08 or more) involved in fatal crashes in the late afternoon and early evening is more than double that of drunk drivers of any other type of passenger vehicle. As a result, IDOT, the Illinois State Police and motorcycle safety advocates are joining forces in a “Ride Sober or Let Yourself Stop” campaign to remind Illinois motorcyclists that driving a motorcycle while intoxicated can lead to “tragic results.”.
According to Illinois Secretary of Transportation Ann L. Schneider, “Sober travel or letting go is a very simple message that saves lives for these people. Their behavior is dangerous and criminal, and law enforcement officers will continue to find and arrest them. As we recently reported, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland indicated that there were a record number of motorcycle accidents in many states across the country, causing the total number of motor vehicle fatalities to increase in several states.
Driving under the influence of alcohol by motorcyclists and other drivers is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents and their resulting injuries and deaths. In 2003, the proportion of fatally injured drivers with alcohol problems was consistently lower among motorcycle riders than among passenger car drivers of each age up to age 34. As an avid motorcyclist, you probably know that most fatal motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers of passenger cars. We need to know if other potential forms of impediment are included in the motorcycle safety landscape and how they should be addressed by the programs. Alcoholic beverages are frequently available and promoted at motorcycle riding venues and at events aimed at motorcyclists.
Motorcycle accidents and motorcycle rider injuries and fatalities are also caused by other drivers' alcohol consumption. Overall, motorcycle mortality rates per 100,000 population fell from 1.6 in 1983 to 0.9 in 1993 and then increased to 1.2 in 2003. This decrease was also observed among motorcycle drivers, except for those aged 55 to 59, for whom the proportion with alcohol problems increased from 16.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2003. Motorcyclists are at greater risk of being hit than other vehicles because of their smaller profile, making them more hard to see for intoxicated drivers. NHTSA has reported that approximately 30% of motorcyclists involved in fatal motorcycle accidents had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) above the statutory limit and that approximately 45% of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents had some level of alcohol in their blood. However, after age 34, a higher proportion of motorcycle riders than passenger car drivers had alcohol problems.