With its relatively dry climate and surprising variety of scenery and elevation, Nevada offers some of the best motorcycle riding in the United States. Exciting day trips out of Las Vegas include pine-treed Mount Charleston, and Vegas is a good starting or ending point for thrilling rides to Lake Tahoe, Hoover Dam, and Death Valley. Paralleling the old Pony Express trail, the stretch of U.S. Highway 50 between Carson City and Ely, Nevada – described by motorcycle enthusiasts as one of the best rides in the world – is virtually devoid of other vehicles and renown as “the Loneliest Road in America.”
Sharing the Road
Day-to-day, however, most Nevada cyclists must share busy roads with other vehicles. As motorcycle ridership increases, perhaps in reaction to increasing fuel costs, so do accidents involving motorcycles. This is not limited to Nevada; the annual number of motorcycle-related deaths in the United States is said to be at least two times that of total annual deaths from train, pipeline, boat, and airplane accidents.
Because of its smaller size, a motorcycle may be less visible to cars, trucks and RVs, and because of their exposure and lack of seatbelts, riders have a far greater risk of death or serious injury in the event of an accident. In 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled than passenger car occupants, and the fatality rate per registered vehicle was six times that for passenger car occupants.
As the population ages, and retired baby boomers take to the roads, the percentage of older riders killed or injured in motorcycle accidents will continue to increase. More than half of all motorcycle fatalities already involve older motorcyclists (NHTSA).
Rider Behavior Does Matter
Motorcyclists can take an active role in limiting their vulnerability on the road by:
- Avoiding alcohol. According to the NHTSA, a higher percentage of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents had excessive levels of blood alcohol than operators of other vehicles
- Slowing down. Motorcycles may be built for speed, but cyclists should always observe speed limits and adapt to road conditions
- Getting properly trained and licensed. Nearly a quarter of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents do not have a valid license, and many have had no training or motorcycle safety education
- Maintaining your motorcycle
- Wearing protective gear, including a DOT-approved helmet. Proper footwear, long pants, gloves, and a motorcycle jacket don’t just look cool; they can prevent serious injury and death. There is no question that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of motorcycle injuries and fatalities. Nevada is one of a minority of U.S. States with a universal helmet law, which means that all riders and passengers must wear a helmet at all times. But while helmet laws have a high rate of compliance, each year sees a number of Nevada fatalities involving riders or passengers without helmets
Even the safest motorcyclist can be involved in an accident, often a result of another driver’s negligence. Investigating and attributing responsibility can often be particularly challenging in the case of a motorcycle accident, especially when the outcome is fatal.
Do not delay if you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident: contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers at Bertoldo, Baker, Carter, Smith & Cullen will investigate the incident, explain how to protect your legal rights and preserve the strength of your potential case, and advise you on the best way to recover monetary damages for pain, suffering and medical care.