Like many beloved inventions, the motorcycle was developed in stages—gradually improving in design, innovation after innovation. Today, Texas roads have about 438,551 motorcycles registered in the state. And despite the many campaigns to improve safety and encourage people to look out for motorcyclists, there are still plenty of motorcycle accidents on Texas roads and highways.
Motorcycles have a unique history. These iconic vehicles seem to represent a love of the open road, speed, and freedom. The motorcycle is a symbol of mobility, attitude, and living on the edge. From Steve McQueen and Bob Dylan; Hunter S. Thompson to Dirty Harry and James Dean, a wide range of American cultural icons and characters have traversed the open roads on a bike.
Here’s what you need to know about the incredible history of motorcycles and some of the leading statistics about motorcyclists on our roads.
The Motorcycle Begins as a Steam Powered Bicycle
Before the top-of-the-line Harley Davidson motorcycles hit the market, a man named Howard Roper invented a two-cylinder, steam-powered velocipede in the late 19th century. People argue that this is the first motorcycle. A few years later, an Arizona man developed a smaller steam boiler that helped a bicycle reach up to 12 miles per hour.
These self-propelling bikes became quite the rage and dozens of iterations were developed across the United States.
The use of the first gasoline-powered bike, otherwise known as the “Otto Cycle Engine,” after creator Nicolaus Otto. Companies sprouted all across America, Germany, and Britain, as engineers worked to perfect the design that was drawing so much attention.
Of course, Harley Davidson is the epitome of motorcycles and one of the most well-known motorcycle pioneers. This iconic brand has had amazing longevity and always remained at the forefront of bike innovations. This household name had humble beginnings in the back of a garage in Milwaukee and thanks to two friends that loved tinkering with bicycles. In 1903, William Harley and a couple of buddies launched the company and blew up the industry. The development of bikes, however, would not stop there.
Bikes During War Time
In addition to their cultural heritage, these fast vehicles played a major role in local and world conflicts. The first use of a motorcycle in war was the use of the American Army’s motorcycle units that chased Pancho Villa all over Mexico. And while Pershing’s attempt to capture Villa failed, the motorcycle became a beloved friend of the infantryman or frontline soldier that needed to traverse difficult landscapes like the mountainous deserts of Mexico.
The Unsung Heroes of WWII
Often called the unsung motorized heroes, motorcycles were a major asset to Ally companies throughout World War II. Harley Davidson was the leading supplier of motorcycles to the United States Army. These bikes were used for various tasks including sending messages, disbursement of supplies, and other military police duties.
Motorcycles were used for their speed, flexibility, and gas mileage. When it came to delivering important messages or equipment, they could maneuver across wild terrain and do so quickly.
Motorcycles on Texas Roads
Here are a few important facts about motorcycles on Texas roads in recent years:
- On May 4th, 2021, TxDot released information regarding motorcycle fatalities in 2020. The data revealed that despite a 2% reduction in motorcycle crashes and less traffic on the roads in the early days of the pandemic, there appears to be a 17% increase in Texas motorcycle fatalities when compared to 2019.
- Motorcyclists make up 12% of all traffic fatalities statewide.
- One of the main causes of motorcycle and vehicle collisions stems from drivers miscalculating the distance between their vehicle and the motorcycle.
- Another cause of collisions includes drivers misjudging the speed at which a motorcycle is traveling next to them.
- A large percentage of motorcycle classes are intersection-related.
The Share the Road Campaign
The state of Texas started the Share the Road Campaign to encourage drivers to stay vigilant and take safety precautions around motorcycles on the road. The campaign hopes to lower the number of 482 riders that lost their lives in 2020 to bike accidents.
Many factors play a role in this number including:
- Distracted drivers
- Lack of awareness of motorcycles
- Congested roads
- Misjudging speed or proximity
The campaign encourages drivers to keep motorcyclists in their sites and remain aware of where they are on the road. Other considerations aim to convince drivers:
- To stay back and leave plenty of room between them and the bike
- Always double look when changing lanes
- Slow down and follow speed limits
- Avoid distractions such as texting, looking at your phone, talking on the phone, etc
Have You Been in a Motorcycle Accident? Wondering What’s Next?
Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic events in a person’s life. A motorcyclist is exposed and doesn’t have the same protections as someone in a vehicle. If you’ve been hit or involved in a motorcycle accident, don’t wait or settle for just anything. The likelihood of developing injuries can be high depending on the situation.
Call Quiñonez Law and get expert legal help following your bike or automobile accident.