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Motorcycle Accident Rates in Ohio Are Rising: What Riders and Families Need to Know

Motorcycle Accidents

According to a recent news article, motorcycle deaths in Ohio increased by 55 percent from 2020 to 2021. Another recent article reports that fatal motorcycle accidents have risen 42 percent since 2017, while total motorcycle accidents have risen by four percent over this same time period.

Why is this the case? Riders choosing not to wear helmets seems to be a major factor. Reportedly, roughly half of all motorcycle riders in Ohio choose not to wear a helmet, and Ohio ranks third nationally for the most fatal motorcycle accidents involving non-helmeted riders.

Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents in Ohio

These articles cite some other notable statistics on motorcycle accidents in Ohio as well. For example, NBC 4 in Columbus reports that:

  • There are more than 10 reported motorcycle accidents in Ohio every day. The total number increased from 3,826 in 2017 to 4,001 in 2021, and we are on pace to see a new record high in 2022.
  • Roughly 1 in 20 motorcycle accidents in Ohio is fatal. Of the 4,001 motorcycle accidents in Ohio in 2021, 223 (or roughly five percent) resulted in fatalities. Similarly, of the  2,284 motorcycle accidents in Ohio from January through July 2022, 103 were fatal.
  • Approximately 70 percent of motorcycle riders killed in accidents were not wearing helmets. While roughly 50 percent of motorcycle riders in Ohio choose to wear helmets, approximately 70 percent of riders killed in accidents are non-helmeted. This reflects the fact that while motorcycle helmets help, they cannot protect riders in all cases.

Ohio’s Motorcycle Laws: An Overview

Ohio’s motorcycle laws strike a balance between protecting riders (and other members of the public) and providing riders with the freedom to make their own decisions about their safety. For example, when it comes to obtaining a motorcycle license, buying motorcycle insurance and wearing a helmet, Ohio law provides as follows:

Ohio’s Motorcycle License Requirements

Under Ohio law, all motorcycle riders are considered “novices” during their first year. To obtain a motorcycle license (or a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license), riders in Ohio must first obtain a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC). Obtaining a TIPIC involves taking a knowledge test and a vision test at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

When riding with a TIPIC, motorcycle riders are subject to several restrictions. For example, riders with TIPICs may not ride with passengers, ride at night, or ride on interstates or congested roads.

After obtaining a TIPIC, the requirements for obtaining a full motorcycle license or endorsement vary for riders over and under the age of 18. For example, while riders over 18 only need to take a skills test, riders under 18 must successfully complete a motorcycle safety education course.

Of course, older riders can take safety courses as well—and taking a safety course is a good idea for new riders (and returning riders) of all ages. Riders can take a Basic Rider Skills (BRS) course through the Ohio Traffic Safety Office.

Ohio’s Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Just like car, truck and SUV drivers, motorcycle riders in Ohio are required to carry liability insurance. The minimum insurance coverage requirements are the same for drivers and motorcycle riders:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance per person
  • $50,000 in BIL insurance per accident
  • $25,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance per accident

While riders must comply with Ohio’s insurance requirements, they can opt to purchase additional coverage—and it is generally a good idea to do so. For example, motorcycle riders can purchase “no-fault” medical payments (or MedPay) insurance which provides coverage if they accidentally injure themselves, and they can purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) which provides coverage if they get hit by either: (i) a driver who has minimal insurance coverage, (ii) a driver who is uninsured, or (iii) a driver who flees the scene of the accident.

Ohio’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

In Ohio, motorcycle riders are only required to wear a helmet for a limited period of time. Specifically, riders must wear a helmet (i) during the first year that they are licensed or (ii) until they turn 18 (and then for the full first year that they are licensed, if they get their license while they are 17).

Ohio law also provides that motorcycle riders must have eye protection—and this requirement applies even if Ohio’s motorcycle helmet requirement doesn’t. The law provides that eye protection can be either glasses, goggles, a helmet face shield or a windscreen “of such height, construction, and durability as to actually protect the operator.”

But just because a helmet isn’t required, this doesn’t mean that wearing a helmet isn’t a good idea. Ohio’s fatal motorcycle accident statistics show that motorcycle helmets save lives, and the National Safety Council reports that motorcycle helmets are “estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers.”

Choosing a Motorcycle Helmet

When choosing a motorcycle helmet, it is important to choose wisely. There are two main considerations:

1. Helmet Style

While some riders prefer the style of open-face and half helmets, these helmets do not provide the same level of protection as full-face helmets with shatter-resistant visors. Modular (flip-up) helmets can provide a similar level of protection to full-face helmets when worn in their flipped-down configuration.

2. DOT or Snell Certification

All riders should choose motorcycle helmets that have either a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or Snell certification. DOT certification means that the manufacturer has self-certified to meet the federal government’s safety standards, while the Snell Foundation provides certification for helmets that pass its testing procedures. Given the wide variety of DOT and Snell-certified helmets available, riders should generally avoid helmets that do not have either of these labels.

Contact the Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Malek & Malek

Our lawyers provide experienced legal representation for injured riders and families who have lost loved ones in motorcycle accidents in Ohio. If you need to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights, we invite you to call 888-444-7440 or contact us online for a free and confidential consultation.