Las Vegas – Clark County is seeing a rise in motorcycle fatalities in 2022.
Two motorcycle crashes happened within 24 hours on Monday. One deadly in North Las Vegas and the other in Las Vegas on Bonanza near Pecos sent the motorcyclist, Don Shumate, 41, to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. While he is still alive, the rising number of deaths this year remains a concern for Erin Breen, the director of the Road Equity Alliance Project at UNLV, which advocates for road users. There is hardly a day that goes by that bikers aren’t hearing about someone they know or love being injured or killed on the bike.
This type of rising motorcycle fatalities is a sign that something has changed in the Clark County area and not for good. We have lost 35 motorcyclists killed so far this year, and we have 5 more months of riding in 2022. Many fatalities report speed and alcohol as a factor in the accident; however, the rise in drivers driving distracted, not paying attention, speeding, or driving impaired is up.
That’s as of August 30, four more than the reported numbers from the Department of Public Safety in July. Data shows 31 motorcycle deaths compared to 25 in 2021. That’s a 24 percent increase in Clark County.
There have been 95 traffic-related fatalities so far in 2022, and you are looking at almost 30 percent of our traffic fatalities, approaching 30 percent, involving a motorcyclist. According to the state Department of Public Safety, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than car occupants to die in traffic crashes. The Nevada Department of Transportation launched a “Zero Fatalities” initiative 11 years ago to curtail traffic deaths. The campaign shares public safety tips for pedestrians, drivers, and motorcyclists. It recommends that car drivers allow for three or four seconds of distance behind a motorcycle. Motorcycles should occupy a full lane of roads to avoid collisions. More than just a helmet can benefit motorcyclists. The Zero Fatalities campaign recommends sturdy footwear for motorcyclists, long pants, a full-length jacket, gloves and eye protection.
So what is the impact on motorcycle riders after they have been hit? With airbags and seat belts, riders face much longer recovery times than in normal vehicular accidents. These riders’ recovery time can be 3-9 months or longer, which can tremendously impact their families. They can suffer life-changing injuries that can affect their job and what kind of work they do in the future.
A massive increase in drivers driving uninsured or the basic statewide minimum of coverage won’t even come close to making the driver whole again. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle riders rely on the fact that the at-fault driver will have coverage to help them with their injuries. This is no longer the case, as statistics show that 50% of all drivers are driving with no insurance.
Laurie Montoya with the BikerDown Foundation stated, “Last month, we had a rider who had over 750k in medical bills, and his motorcycle attorney had to tell him that the driver only had 25k of insurance and there was nothing more they could do. How is a biker supposed to recover? How will they pay for the driver’s negligence caused by making an illegal u-turn?”
The answer is simple: Motorcycle riders must be responsible for increasing their motorcycle insurance to know they are fully covered in an accident. If you don’t, it can break you in the event of a severe accident. Call your insurance agent, don’t call a 1-800-insurance number. Insurance agents will look out for your best interest and what you need in the event of an accident. They are experienced in the laws in Colorado and not reading off a teleprompter at a computer center or in their kitchen. Call an actual motorcycle attorney and get an honest insurance review from a lawyer who doesn’t sell insurance; they SUE INSURANCE COMPANIES.
No matter what the law on the books is in Nevada, law enforcement needs to be more diligent in enforcing those laws and citing drivers who are texting and driving or driving distracted. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles needs to implement a system where they are notified when a driver’s insurance lapses or is canceled. Their driving privileges are suspended, and their cars are booted until they can show proof of insurance that is current. In 2020, during a pandemic, many drivers had no choice but to let their insurance lapse, but we are in 2022, and most drivers can go back to work; however, a large percentage have not reinstated their vehicle insurance, rather deciding to take a chance and pray for the best.
Most departments will say that they don’t have the funds to implement these programs; however, I firmly believe that the State of Colorado can find a way as they do for other programs in this state. The checkpoints and citations alone could reimburse counties that expend the funds to keep all drivers, pedestrians, and motorcycle riders SAFER ON THE ROAD.