Missouri motorcycle fatalities are on the rise
COLUMBIA — Motorcycle season is here and May is the annual Motorcycle Awareness Month. That awareness might be needed in the state of Missouri.
Through the last couple of years, fatalities in motorcycle crashes have increased. It has gone from 73 deaths in 2013 to 88 the following year and finally 92 in 2015. That is the highest number of fatalities since 2012, where 104 people died in crashes related to motorcycles. The death count is slowly closing in on triple digits yet again.
Last year's number of 92 deaths in motorcycle crashes accounts for 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2015.
According to Marcus Holmes, MoDOT intermediate system specialist, a lot of accidents happen, when motorists are not aware of motorcyclists. But people riding the motorcycles can make a difference themselves.
"To be seen, motorcyclists should always wear reflective gear and a D.O.T approved helmet," Holmes said.
Although wearing a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation is required by law in Missouri, the unapproved helmets are popular.
"I probably sell the most of the non D.O.T. Most people are looking for those," said owner of Gilbane Motorsports, a Columbia motorcycle shop, Matt Gilbane. "They are lighter, they are cooler in the summer and they catch less wind. Most people don’t want to wear helmets, so that is the next best thing," Gilbane said.
D.O.T approved helmets usually have padding on the inside and are made of a strong material. Helmets not approved can be plastic or a thin piece of metal with less padding.
"It’s a novelty. It’s not there to save you. It’s just for looks," Gilbane said.
In April, a house bill allowing people over 21 with proper insurance to ride without helmet, was passed and sent to the senate. But it didn't make this year's legslative session. Governor Nixon vetoed a similar bill in 2009.