Fatal motorcycle accidents are on the rise in Georgia. It’s an alarming statistic that raises many questions.

According to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, there were 208 motorcyclist deaths in 2017. The figure which is based on preliminary data compares to 173 in 2016. In both years, motorcycle fatalities comprised 11 percent of overall traffic deaths. The number of deaths of riders in 2016 was 20 percent higher than two years previously.

The figures suggest more riders are not wearing helmets, a factor that may be fueling the increase in deaths. In 2016, riders not wearing helmets were killed on 10 occasions.

Although the number of helmetless riders killed in Georgia appears to be rising, it is not legal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet here. In Georgia, riders must wear protective headgear which complies with standards established by the Board of Public Safety.

Some states have relaxed their motorcycle helmet laws in recent years. An Associated Press report noted how Pennsylvania has made it legal for riders over 21 to be helmetless.

Fatal motorcycle accidents increase

Fatal motorcycle accidents are rising in Georgia

The report also noted how the number of deaths of riders increased after the rules changed. Safety experts, doctors and insurance groups say the freedom to not wear a helmet comes with major risks. Riding without a helmet significantly increases the chances riders will die or suffer serious head injuries during a crash.

In six years before the law was enacted Pennsylvania saw 122 motorcycle fatalities per year on average. In the 13 years since the law was enacted that figure rose to about 199, a USA Today Network analysis found.

The report pointed to large rises in motorcycle deaths on the roads of the state. The number of riders killed each year in Pennsylvania increased, on average, more than 60 percent, since 1997.

From 2004, the year the new law came into full effect until 2016, about half of almost 2,600 motorcycle riders who were killed in Pennsylvania crashes weren’t wearing a helmet.

Opponents of motorcycle helmets cite freedom issues. While not wearing helmets is linked to more fatal wrecks, the rise in deaths in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia may also be linked to an increase in the number of motorcycles on the roads.

The number of registered motorcycles increased at a higher rate than the number of motorcycle deaths in many states in recent years.

More older people from the baby boomer generation are opting to ride motorcycles. They are also dying on them at a higher rate than other motorcycle riders, according to a recent report from AAA.

The AAA analyzed federal crash data. It found the mortality rate for riders 60 or older is more than four times the overall increase in motorcycle deaths for 2016. Older riders and drivers are more likely to sustain life-threatening or fatal injuries in a wreck than younger riders.

Motorcyclists are more likely to be killed in wrecks than car or truck drivers. We have detailed the leading causes of crashes.

If you have suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle wreck or lost a loved one please call our Georgia motorcycle injury lawyers at (404) 913-1529.