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New numbers show deadly motorcycle crashes rising in Kentucky

(WKYT)
Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 2:41 PM EDT
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Every year there are thousands of motorcycle crashes and deaths reported on roadways across the country. Here in central Kentucky we have seen a number of crashes in recent months and weeks.

We sat out to look at the numbers and found a growing trend among motorcycle accidents in the state including more deadly accidents involving riders without a helmet.

WKYT's Amber Philpott has one man's story of survival and the safety warning one Lexington doctor has for riders.

It's a story that makes headlines quite a bit.

Already this year, the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety says there have been some 500 motorcycle accidents, 27 of those have been deadly.

"Obviously I have the dent here, crooked handle bars and the fairing inner/outer it’s busted," said Bryce Gill.

Bryce Gill has been riding most of his life, but an accident near Richmond last May almost put an end to something he loves.

"I was in a coma," said Gill.

Gill had a traumatic brain injury, and admits he wasn't wearing a helmet, in fact he says he never did.

"It’s just one of those things that, I had a helmet, but it’s just one of those things that I didn't like to wear."

In the last year, Gill has had to re-learn some of life's most simple tasks. He spent months in rehabilitation.

"Would I have had the injuries if I had a helmet on, probably not.”?

"It's actually pretty amazing that he was able to survive without a helmet in the first place," said Dr. Cynthia Talley a UK Healthcare Trauma Surgeon.

What happened to Gill is sadly something Dr. Cynthia Talley see all too many times when the weather starts to warm up.

"We will see hundreds throughout the year, but at any given time I'll have several people here that have been affected by a motorcycle crash," said Dr. Talley.

Since 2014 the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety says motorcycle crashes have increased in the state.

Deadly Accidents:

2014-1660

2015-1739

2016-1790

What is even more startling is that the number of deadly accidents have been rising too and in many cases a helmet was not in use. Of the 106 deadly accidents in 2016, 70 involved riders without a helmet. Doctors say that protection for your head can make a big difference.

"The people with helmets on may still have injuries, but they're much less likely and much less severe. So more like a concussion that they will survive," said Dr. Talley.

Currently there are only 19 states that require motorcycle riders wear helmets, in Kentucky only those under 21 are required to wear one. It's something this doctor says warrants more discussion.

"The CDC looked into this, they compared states that had helmet laws and those that didn't and it was a huge margin of people that died from motorcycles that did not have a law."

Bryce Gill knows the price he's paid for not wearing a helmet.

"I feel lucky that I'm still here," said Gill.

He's now hoping getting back on his bike and sharing his story will be a chance to urge others to be safe and that includes a big change to how he will now ride.

"I just bought this last week, just because I promised them that if I ever got back on the bike I would," said Gill.

For more information on rider safety click on the links provided.