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Changes to Nevada Motorcycle Safety Laws and the Person Behind It

Nevada is home to many motorcyclists, and almost three percent of all vehicle registrations in the state are motorcycles. While this seems to be a small percentage of those on the road, the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety testified in front of legislature that motorcyclists made up for twenty-one percent of the almost four-hundred traffic fatalities in 2022.

These statistics are not surprising, and a 2022 report shows that Nevada ranks fifteenth in the nation for the highest rate of motorcycle fatalities. In 2016, the state had a twenty percent death rate for motorcyclists (motorcycle deaths as a percent of total motor vehicle deaths), which was the highest in the nation. [1]

How a UNLV Student is Trying to Make a Change

UNLV medical student David Bandbaz started riding motorcycles his first year at UNLV’s Kerkorian School of Medicine—a decision he said he made rather impulsively. When he took the licensure test at DMV, he failed. He then decided to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s alternative weekend rider course, which if passed, would give him a completion card which the Nevada DMV accepted to get a Class M Motorcycle License. However, six months after receiving his license, Bandbaz was involved in a crash which resulted in a broken hand.

This incident made Bandbaz wonder about the effectiveness of the alternative course he took—after all, during the class riders learned on smaller bikes and could not drive more than 30 miles per hour. It also made him wonder about many of his friends who continued to ride motorcycles unlicensed due to the wait time to get into these courses, as well as the fact there are minimal consequences when caught without a license, and riders still need to ride to the nearest DMV to take the test, despite not having their license.

These questions resulted in three years of research, as well as conversations with Nevada traffic safety experts and motorcycle safety experts, and led to the crafting of SB423, a bill that was introduced during the 2023 Nevada Legislative session. SB423 aims to improve the motorcycle licensure rate in the state by allowing unlicensed motorcyclists to waive repercussion if they get pulled over, if they attend a motorcycle course and obtain licensure within nine months. The bill passed and Governor Joe Lombardo signed it on June 1st.

Motorcycle Facts that Everyone on the Road Should Know

The newly passed legislation is a great start to decreasing motorcyclist fatalities in Nevada, but decreasing fatalities also requires awareness from everyone on the road, as well as motorcyclists understanding the risks they face while on the road. The following are some important facts regarding motorcyclists that are good to know:
Two-Thirds of all motorcycle accidents are a result of other drivers violating their right of way— This is often a result of poor visibility.

  • The number one cause of motorcycle deaths nationwide is dangerous road conditions, especially rain, snow, and debris/sand.
  • Motorcycles are statistically more dangerous than cars, and per one hundred thousand accidents, seventy-two motorcycle accidents are fatal, while just thirteen car accidents are fatal.
  • Seven percent of motorcycle accidents occur at the intersection— once again low visibility is a cause for this, as well as the fact people often misjudge the speed that the motorcyclist is traveling. [2]

Taking proper safety precautions can also decrease the likelihood of sustaining fatal injuries during a crash. As cliche and often as it is said, wearing a helmet and proper gear is one of the best ways to decrease the risk of life-threatening injuries, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that wearing a helmet reduces risk of fatality by one-third. Despite this statistic, helmet use has steadily decreased in the United States, with helmet use at just sixty-nine percent in 2020. Shockingly 2021 was worse with just sixty-four percent of motorcyclists using protective headgear. [3] In addition, in Nevada, helmets are required for both drivers and passengers of a motorcycle, although some choose to ride helmet-less.




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