Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents in New York

On September 15, 2013, there were two fatal motorcycle accidents in the Hudson Valley. On Bear Mountain Parkway in Cortlandt, 43 year old Christopher Ulacco of Wappingers Falls was killed while on a 2008 Suzuki after he apparently crossed the double yellow line and struck a GMC Acadia on Route 6 near Carhart Avenue. Police are seeking information from another rider who was with Mr. Ulacco at the time of the fatal crash. Ulacco was wearing a helmet. There were several other injuries in the accident, with most of the injured taken to Hudson Valley Hospital for treatment.

In the second accident, 76 year old Julio Gamio was driving north at 11:00 AM on September 15th on Route 9W in Haverstraw, followed on another motorcycle by his daughter, when it appears that he lost control of his Harley Davidson Softail Cruiser and struck a 20 foot brick structure adjacent to Low Tor Storage at 120 Route 9W in Haverstraw. Gamio suffered multiple head and internal injuries and was pronounced dead at Nyack Hospital. Witnesses described Gamio driving into the wall, bouncing and hitting the pavement. The cause of the Gamio accident is under investigation.

Bear Mountain Parkway is a well known destination for motorcyclists, with its combination of winding and scenic roads, particularly in the fall when the foliage can be spectacular. On an annual basis, approximately 317 riders are injured in the Hudson Valley, and 11 motorcyclists are killed, according to the New York State DMV. Motorcycle fatalities have increased annually for the last fourteen years, with the exception of 2009, when there was a decrease of 16 percent. Interestingly, according to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, motorcycle fatalities are one of the few categories of highway safety in which strides are not being made. One reason is undoubtedly the inconsistent use of helmets by many riders around the country. In fact, on a recent trip I made to take my son to college, I observed a large majority of riders throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio not utilizing helmets. Helmets prevented approximately 1,600 motorcycle deaths in 2011 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

NHTSA also reports that there were 4,612 motorcyclists killed in accidents on U.S. highways in 2011, which was 2% higher than in 2010. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 14% of all highway deaths in 2011, even though motorcycle registrations comprise only 3% of all vehicles on the road. Motorcyclists are killed 30 times more than occupants of cars, and are five times more likely to be injured.

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Since 2007, there have been seven fatal motorcycle crashes in Westchester County . The vast majority of these Westchester County motorcycle accidents have been caused by two factors: speed, especially around curves, and the rider’s failure to wear helmets. Most recently, this past Sunday, Marco Gomez, a 28 year old man, was killed in Yonkers when he apparently lost control of his bike and was thrown into a chain link fence. Preliminary police investigation has determined that Mr. Gomez was not wearing a helmet and was driving at an excessive speed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that registered motorcycles climbed to 6.68 million in 2006 from 3.9 million in 1996, with fatal motorcycle accidents increasing to 71.9 per 100,000 riders from 55.8 per 100,000 riders. During that same ten year period, car accident deaths dropped substantially due to increased seat belt usage and the ready availability of air bags in most vehicles.

The Westchester County Police has implemented parkway checkpoints (4 of the 7 fatal accidents have occurred on the County’s winding parkways) in an effort to reduce these tragic accidents. They hope that these checkpoints, in which bikers are stopped to determine if they have the proper safety equipment and documentation, will motivate motorcyclists to enroll in safety programs such as one given by Bob Simpson, owner of the Smart Rider Motorcycle Safety Program. Mr Simpson’s program emphasizes turning properly, as a large percentage of motorcycle fatalities happen on curves, due to speeding, swerving or braking improperly.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its annual report analyzing motorcycle helmet use throughout the United States. Helmet usage in the northeast has increased from 47% in 2006 to 58% in 2007, which unquestionably reduces fatalities and personal injuries suffered in New York motorcycle accidents.

Helmet use is highest in the western United States, with 77% wearing helmets, and lowest in the Midwest, with only 49% using helmets. Rural motorcyclists wear helmets 55% of the time, whereas suburban riders’ usage is 66%. Additionally, usage is lowest on the weekends, at only 54%. The study was performed at 2000 sites across the United States on statistically sampled roadways between 7:00 AM and 6:00 PM.

Amazingly, only 20 states in addition to New York require helmet use, which reduces deaths and prevents serious injuries in motorcycle accidents.