(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) As temperatures rise, so do motorcycle accidents.
Two fatal accidents involving motorcycles in the span of just three days locally have Missouri State Highway troopers reminding motorists to be extra vigilant as more bikers hit the road this summer.
“During the winter months, they’re not out as much. Obviously, out in the summer months, you’re going to see more motorcycle crashes just because they’re more of them out there.”
In 2018, MSHP reported a higher number in motorcycle crashes and fatalities in warmer months compared to cooler months.
“Anytime you’re on a motorcycle, unfortunately and you’re traveling at highway speeds and something catastrophic happens, the odds of injury or even a fatality crash go up. Anytime you get ejected from that motorcycle or lay it down, the human body is making contact with another surface and it’s not good,” said Sergeant Jake Angle, Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Both motorists, Gardner and Stickler, were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, a hot topic in Jefferson City.
Currently on Governor Mike Parson's desk is House Bill 1963.
Under the bill, it allows motorcycle drivers 26-years-old and up to ride helmetless if they have health insurance. People under 26-years-old, operators or riders, must wear a helmet.
This would be a significant change to Missouri's current universal helmet law, requiring all motorcyclists wear a helmet.
According to the Government Accountability Office, "Laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only strategy proved to be effective in reducing motorcyclist fatalities."
Troopers and safety directors also advise riders wear protective gear when hitting the road.
“Helmets will save lives and reduce brain injuries. Do they always keep you from being injured? No, but in a good number of cases they sure will,” said Executive Director of St. Joseph's Safety & Health Council, Sheldon Lyon.
In 2018, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found there were nine times as many unhelmeted fatalities in states without a universal helmet law compared to states with a universal helmet law (1,670 versus 177).
State troopers said safety is a two way street.
“Give 100% of their attention to the job of driving, put those phones down. That goes for motorcyclists and the other cars,” said Sergeant Angle.
Safety directors want to remind motorcyclists to ride within their ability.
“Our riders 40-years and up account for 50% of motorcycle fatalities for the last couple years. So, these are guys that probably rode when they were really young and now they’ve got a little more money in their pocket because their kids are raised and they buy them again. They don’t realize their reaction time is slower, they’re balance isn’t as good,” said Lyon.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found in 2016, Missouri's motorcycle helmet use protected the lives of 66 riders and saved over $673 million in comprehensive costs resulting from motorcycle crashes.
Governor Parson has not yet signed House Bill 1963.