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Fatality rates and the real risk on a motorcycle

A motorcycle offers unparalleled freedom. There is something exciting about the open road, the feeling of the wind and the exposure to the landscape that makes you feel like you're really a part of it -- not just passing through it.

However, that freedom does not come without risk. Statistics paint a fairly bleak picture, especially when looking at fatality rates.

For instance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities went up by 8.3 percent between 2014 and 2015. That was a jump from 4,594 to 4,976 fatalities.

When you consider that there are around 8.6 million registered motorcycles in the United States -- that statistic applies to both commercial and private vehicles in 2015 -- the odds of being killed in an accident are 1 in1,728. Since some registered motorcycles likely never see pavement during any given year, the true odds when looking at the number of bikes on the road could be even higher.

To put this in perspective, when comparing the motorcycle fatality rates to those for passenger cars, the 2014 statistics show that people on motorcycles are six to seven times are likely to be killed in an accident. If you adjust for vehicle miles traveled, that jumps up to 27 times as likely.

Clearly, the risk is serious. While motorcyclists can take some steps to reduce their own personal risk, such as wearing a helmet and observing the speed limit, they cannot avoid all accidents. The families of those who die or suffer serious injuries need to know what legal options they have to seek compensation.

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