20 January 2016

Motorcycles Still Dangerous

One of the early and most widely read posts at this blog examined how safe motorcycles were.  They were and are extremely dangerous.

In Colorado, in 2015, of the 545 traffic fatalities in the state, 104 of the dead (19% of the total and 22% of the total excluding the 78 pedestrians and bicyclists who weren't in motor vehicles) were riding motorcycles.  Motorcycles account for something on the order of 0.5% to 1% of vehicle miles travelled in the state.  The percentage of traffic fatalities in Colorado involving motorcycles is far in excess of the national average (in part because in Colorado it is not mandatory to wear a helmet).

The percentage of motorcycle fatalities involving riders who weren't wearing helmets has consistently hovered above 60% and alcohol is a factor in a substantial share of motorcycle deaths as well.  But, even motorcycle riders who wear helmets and ride sober are at far greater risk of death than anyone driving a car.

As usual, the keys to reducing traffic fatalities are mostly common sense.

Just under half of passengers who died in traffic accidents in 2015 weren't wearing seat belts (just 15% of passengers don't wear seat belts). A third of traffic deaths involved drunk drivers.

Colorado has made great strides, reducing traffic fatalities by about 30% since 2002.  But, there is plenty of room for more progress.


Dave Barnes said...

Or, you could view it as vindication of Darwin's Law.

andrew said...

Honestly, I do think that traffic accidents (and probably motorcycle accidents in particular) which often kill people before they have reached peak lifetime fertility probably has "domesticated" the human race somewhat over the century or so that they have existed. The effect is probably comparable in magnitude to the longstanding European use of the death penalty for several centuries for non-murder felonies.

I don't think it is a strong enough force to account for all or even most of Steven Pinker's trend lines towards a less violent society. But, many centuries of killing of young men with poor self-control surely must have had some selective impact. Moreover, the domestication effect has probably been strongest for those individuals with the most extreme violent personalities, so the cull on large effect impulsivity and violence motivating genes has probably been greater than on small effect genes.