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Motorcycle accidents are a $16 billion problem in the U.S.

It is no surprise that a motorcycle accident takes a financial and physical toll on those involved, but the traffic incidents also cost society. According to the Government Accountability Office, motorcycle crashes cost the country at least $16 billion in 2010.

The cost includes medical, lost wages costs and more, costs that the public often winds up covering. Therefore, it isn't just a motorcyclist issue to improve motorcycle safety; it is a nationwide problem for all who use the roads. The GAO has an idea that it believes could prevent motorcycle wrecks.

Currently, states get federal funding to use toward motorcycle accident prevention, but states are required to use the money in very specific ways. The grants are to be used for motorcycle training and raising standard drivers' awareness about sharing the roads with bikes.

The GA0 has a different idea. While those accident prevention strategies shouldn't be completely done away with, they don't seem to be doing enough. In 2010, more than 4,400 people died as the result of motorcycle accidents. Many of those deaths may have been prevented if the riders had been wearing helmets.

Though most understand that helmet use can prevent death and serious injury like brain damage, many riders still choose not to wear helmets, including in Wisconsin. The GAO suggests that using some of the government funds to increase helmet awareness and helmet use would reduce the cost of motorcycle accidents to the country.

Notice how increasing helmet use might reduce the cost of accidents, but it wouldn't reduce accidents. Motorcyclists would continue to get hurt in wrecks, often because drivers will fail to see them or give them the right of way when it's due. If Congress agrees to the GAO's proposal to give states more spending flexibility, driver recklessness will sadly still be a safety threat.

Source: Motorcycle USA, "GAO Says Motorcycle Crashes Cost $16 Billion," Bart Madson, Nov. 30, 2012

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