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Most of WV motorcycle fatalities involving alcohol weren’t drunk

Motorcycle crashes involving drunk drivers usually receive the most air time on your local news. However, according to the CDC, most of motorcyclist fatalities in West Virginia in 2015 had blood alcohol content (BAC) under the legal limit.

Understanding the data

If you or your loved one rides a motorcycle, it is important to understand that many factors contribute to motorcycle crashes. Each one plays a critical role in understanding the dangers presented to your or your loved one at any given time. The following all have statistically significant effects on fatalities:

  • Weather
  • Road conditions
  • Other vehicles
  • Helmet use
  • Alcohol use
  • Time of day
  • Day of the week

For instance, in 2015, 48 percent of fatalities in single-vehicle crashes that occurred on weekends were under the influence of alcohol. “Under the influence” does not necessarily mean the person was legally drunk.

You are legally impaired to drive once your BAC reaches .08 percent, but a staggering 29 percent of motorcyclist crash fatalities occurred when drivers had a BAC between .01 and .079 percent. This total is more than that of drivers with a BAC between .08-.149 percent who would traditionally be considered “drunk”.

Motorcycle safety

The results of this data show that alcohol was involved in nearly half of all fatal motorcycle crashes in West Virginia in 2015, including people who did not necessarily drink to excess. This data could alarm you because even though you may feel sober enough to drive after one or two beers, your risk goes up.

These statistics warn drivers everywhere that driving a motorcycle after two beers is very different than driving a car. Alcohol affects everyone differently, but most importantly it affects your judgement, balance, and fine motor skills. These are essential to ride a motorcycle safely and need special attention in ways driving a car does not.

If you drive a motorcycle, remember to always wear your protective gear and follow all advice from the National Safety Council and other government bodies. Your life could depend on it.

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