Motorcycle accidents are a preventable problem that result in thousands of injuries and deaths each year in Texas. Here in El Paso County, motorcycle crashes are a grave concern. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Motorcycle Analysis Report, El Paso is among the top 10 counties in Texas for motorcycle crashes, with 1,671 accidents between 2012 and 2016. Based on a population of 833,592 people, there is an average of 40 motorcycle accidents each year in El Paso County for every 100,000 people.
El Paso County also landed in the top 10 for fatal and suspected serious injury motorcycle accidents, with 251 crashes between 2012 and 2016. El Paso has an average annual rate of 6 fatal or suspected serious injury crashes for every 100,000 people.
The below map highlights the number of motorcycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities in El Paso County from 2016- June of 2019. Clicking on a data point in the map will provide additional information about the accident (time, date, injuries, etc).
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These alarming statistics highlight the need for increased safety measures for motorcyclists on the road. Despite a relatively small population, residents of El Paso face a high risk of injury or even death from motorcycle accidents. Understanding the scope of the problem — and our county’s most dangerous roads — can help change this reality.
According to the Motorcycle Analysis Report, as of 2017, there were 3,336 registered motorcycles in El Paso County. In that same year, there were 313 motorcycle accidents, including 61 that involved fatalities or suspected serious injuries. This works out to a crash rate of 9,382 per every 100,000 motorcycles registered — once again, putting El Paso in the top 10 among all Texas counties.
Motorcycle Accidents by Road Class
Based on information from the Crash Records Information System (C.R.I.S.) through TxDOT, we can make certain observations about the prevalence of motorcycle accidents in El Paso. This can then be used to determine how to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes across the county.
According to C.R.I.S., motorcycle accidents are most likely to happen in one of three places in El Paso:
- City streets (169 accidents)
- U.S. and State Highways (90 accidents)
- Interstate roads (48 accidents)
This leads to the conclusion that although a motorcyclist may be traveling at higher speeds on the highway or interstate, they are at more risk for fatality or serious injury on city roads.
The reason for this is simple — and tragic. Unfortunately, car and truck drivers often miss motorcyclists when examining their blind spot before making a turn or switching lanes. They may pull into the motorcyclist’s lane and unexpectedly cut them off, causing the motorcyclist to have to make a risky swerve or similar maneuver in order to avoid being hit. Alternatively, they might stop short when making a turn, causing a motorcyclist to stop quickly and skid out on a road.
To avoid these types of accidents, motorcyclists should do their best to wear visible, reflective clothing while operating a motorcycle, especially if riding during inclement weather or at night. Drivers should be aware that motorcyclists may be on the roads around them — particularly here in El Paso County, where there are more than 3,330 registered motorcycles — and always carefully check their mirrors before switching lanes or making a turn.
Motorcycle Accidents by Speed Limit
In many motor vehicle accidents, speed is a primary factor. In El Paso County, there were 190 speed-related accidents in 2017 alone — including three fatal crashes and 9 suspected serious injury accidents. Yet for motorcycles, speed is not a primary cause of collisions.
According to 2017 data from C.R.I.S., most motorcycle accidents happen on streets with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or lower. In fact, just 4 crashes happened on roads where the speed limit was 65. In comparison, 62 crashes occurred on streets with a speed limit of 35.
When you consider that most accidents happen on the streets of cities and towns — and not on highways and interstates — these statistics make sense. Motorcyclists are more likely to be in an accident in El Paso County in an urban area, on a heavily-congested street, than they are when cruising down the highway at 55 miles per hour.
Because most motorcycle-related accidents happen in urban areas, on city streets, motorcyclists should take particular caution when riding through these areas. With traffic, roadside hazards, pedestrians and other motorcyclists sharing the same roadways as you, there is a razor-thin line between a beautiful day spent riding and ending up seriously injured or killed.
Motorcycle Safety – Helmets
What can a helmet do to help mitigate the risk of injury or death while riding a motorcycle? The use of a helmet is the best measure a motorcyclist can take to protect themselves from serious injury or fatality on the road. Because helmets are estimated to be about 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders, dozens of lives could be saved by wearing one every time that you hop onto your bike.
Of the 490 motorcycle fatalities in Texas in 2017, 213 (43%) of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents were wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, compared to the 265 (54%) of those who were not. Had each of these motorcyclists been wearing a helmet, it is estimated that an additional 98 lives could have been saved.
While Texas does not have any statewide law requiring the use of a helmet while operating a motorcycle, data from the NHSTA shows that the use of DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets was at 65.2% in 2017. We recommend always wearing a helmet when operating a motorcycle.
Dangerous Roads for Motorcyclists
Across Texas, most motorcycle accidents happen on city streets and in urban areas. Yet in El Paso, the most risky roads for motorcyclists are interstates and state highways.
By far, the most dangerous road in El Paso County is Interstate Highway No. 10. Between 2010 and 2017, there were 23 fatal accidents on this roadway — the 6th highest number in Texas. In this same period of time, there were a total of 390 motorcycle accidents on this road.
According to the statistics, the most dangerous roads in El Paso County are as follows: (data between 2010 and 2017)
- Interstate Highway No. 10: 390 accidents
- Texas State Highway Loop 375: 211 accidents
- State Highway 20: 197 accidents
- U.S. Highway No. 62: 182 accidents
- U.S. Highway No. 54: 117 accidents
- Farm to Market Road 0659: 75 accidents
- Business U.S. Highway 0054-A: 74 accidents
- N. Lee Trevino Drive: 73 accidents
- George Dieter Drive: 53 accidents
- Edgemere Boulevard: 44 accidents
These types of accidents have a devastating impact on those affected. Recently, a man was killed and a woman was injured after his motorcycle tipped in the intersection of Montana Avenue and Desert Meadows Road. Another motorcyclist was seriously injured after a crash with a semi-truck on I-10 East near Cotton.
A motorcycle accident can lead to serious, lifelong injuries, or even death. That is why it is so important to understand how, why and where these types of crashes happen in El Paso County — and what we can all do to help reduce the risk for everyone on the road.
Contact an Experienced El Paso Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If a motorcyclist is injured or killed as the result of another person’s negligence, the motorcyclist can recover compensation for the damages sustained through a personal injury lawsuit. Forbes & Forbes combines decades of experience with personal attention to your case to achieve the best possible solution for your case. For more information, or to discuss your claim with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.