Hawaii’s year-round balmy weather, make it the perfect setting for motorcycle enthusiasts. And while the setting may be perfect for riding off into the sunset, the dangers of motorcycle riding have been underscored by several tragic deaths in recent years.
Just a few months ago in October 2011, two motorcyclists on Oahu were killed in separate, unrelated incidents within a two-hour period. Neither rider was wearing a helmet at the time of accident, and police determined that speed was a factor in both crashes.
In Hawaii, motorcycle riders under the age of 18 and mo-ped and bicycle riders under the age of 15 are required to wear a helmet by law. According to the Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT), political resistance has quashed ongoing attempts to establish a mandatory helmet law for adults.
A recent federal study shows that people who did not wear a helmet when operating a motorcycle or mo-ped were 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and that safety helmets reduce the likelihood of a crash fatality by 37 percent.
According to the DOT, in 2011 there were more than 21 motorcycle-related deaths – an increase from 20 deaths in 2010. Hawaii saw 30 motorcycle fatalities in 2009, 22 in 2008 and 27 in 2007.
In motorcycle accidents, the consequence of not wearing a helmet does not just affect the rider and his or her family and friends – the community also pays a high cost. Here in Hawaii the death toll among riders who did not wear helmets is a staggering 200 percent greater than that of helmeted riders.* This means that over the last five years, incidents involving motorcyclists not wearing a helmet has cost island taxpayers $1.9 million a year.
Some tips that the Hawaii Department of Transportation offers motorcyclists to stay safe on the road include:
*Information provided by Queen’s Medical Center