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A motorcycle rider died in an accident in Cobb County over the weekend.

According to news reports, the motorcyclist Anthony Torone Anderson was riding his bike behind another motorcyclist. When the second rider attempted to make a left turn, Anderson's bike crashed into the motorcycle. The impact of the collision sent the motorcycle crashing into several utility poles. Anderson was rushed to a hospital, but was pronounced dead.

Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its annual report on traffic accident fatalities for 2008. As a Cobb County personal injury lawyer, I was very encouraged to see that fatality rates across almost all types of accidents, had declined substantially. However, the rate of fatalities in motorcycle accidents had actually increased, as it has been over the past decade.

In Georgia, 177 persons died in motorcycle accidents in 2008, compared to 163 in 2007. These numbers have been steadily increasing, from 111 in 2004, to 144 in 2005, to 154 in 2006.  Of the 2008 fatalities, 160 motorcyclists were wearing a helmet at the time, and 14 were not.

Law enforcement agencies in Georgia have grappled with the problem of motorcycle safety, but face challenges in bringing down the fatality rates in these accidents. Motorcyclists, for one, are at a much higher risk of dying in an accident. In fact, a motorcyclist is up to 80 times more likely to die in a crash than a motor vehicle driver. Motorcyclists have little protection in the event of an accident, and this increases the risk of a rider becoming one more number on the fatality list. Helmets may offer a high degree of protection, but as we can see from the 160 helmeted motorcyclists who died in Georgia last year, they are no guarantee against death.

It's also hard to target awareness campaigns to educate motorcyclists about safe riding practices.  There are higher numbers of motorcyclists aged 40 and above now on the streets, compared to decades earlier when motorcycles were the ride of choice for younger men.  The demographics of riders have changed dramatically, creating challenges in implementing education programs.

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