Study: One in Three Fatal Motorcycle Accidents Caused By Alcohol

A new study in Ireland has found that one in three fatal motorcycle accidents is due to excessive alcohol consumption before driving. Nearly half of those cases involved blood alcohol content levels above four times the legal driving limit.

The Road Safety Authority of Ireland analyzed crash reports from 867 fatal accidents between 2008 and 2012, roughly 11% of which involved motorcycles. Of those fatal motorcycle crashes, the motorcyclist was deemed fully or partly culpable in 86% of cases.

Along with alcohol consumption, excessive speeds were another determining factor in the cause of crashes. Many occurred on rural roads during the summer months. In contrast to the available statistics for vehicle drivers, motorcycle accidents were more likely to happen during daylight and in dry conditions.

“[The report] does highlight worrying behaviour among motorcyclists, particularly where alcohol and speed are concerned,” said RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock. “It’s critical that those who are seasoned bikers, as well as those who are new to this mode of transport, recognise their vulnerability on the roads and take appropriate measures, such as initial and advanced training, to ensure their safety. Other road-users also need to be aware of their responsibilities when sharing the roads with motorcyclists, particularly when exiting or entering a side road or turning right.”

The reports detailed 96 deaths from motorcycle accidents during the five years studied. By contrast, 4,295 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2014 alone. Every day, some 300,000 people drive under the influence of alcohol on American roads, but fewer than 4,000 are arrested.

“How terribly predictable they all seemed,” said RSA research and policy analyst Maggie Martin of the crash reports she herself had to analyze. “I really found it distressing that these people died for no reason other than bad choices made on the day.”

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