Motorcyclist Fatalities to Drop for Second Straight Year

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According to the Governors Highway Safety Association’s (GHSA) projections, motorcycle fatalities are set to fall for the second year in a row.

The GHSA report projections come from data set in 2014, and it suggests that once tallied, we will know that 4,584 fatalities occurred in 2014.

That figure is 1.8% less than 2013’s fatality count of 4,668. This is the second year in a row that motorcycle fatalities have dropped, and only the third decrease in fatalities since 1997.

While this trend is good news, the GHSA is quick to point out that motorcycle fatalities are still 26% higher than they were 10 years ago, a staggering figure since other motor vehicle fatalities are 28% lower.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia provided preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for the first nine months of 2014, for the GHSA report.

Compared with the first nine months of 2013, motorcyclist fatalities decreased in 27 states, increased in 19 states, and remained the same in four states plus the District of Columbia.

The big takeaway from the GHSA report on motorcycle fatalities is that while riding a motorcycle has become marginally safer over the last two years, the motorcycle industry lags behind automobiles in a big way when it comes to safety advances.

The report itself also states that “there is little evidence that risk factors for motorcyclists have been reduced in recent years, and fluctuations in motorcyclist fatalities are likely to have more to do with economic factors and weather patterns affecting exposure.”

As such, the biggest blame can be laid on states that do not mandate helmet use while riding a motorcycle. As the CDC has already pointed out, mandatory helmet use is the single most effective way to increase motorcycle crash survival rates.

When looking at other factors though, the GHSA also concluded that other factors would help reduce motorcycle fatalities as well:

  • Reduce alcohol impairment. In 2013, 28% of fatally injured riders had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08.
  • Reduce speeding. According to the most recent data, 34% of riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding.
  • Ensure motorcyclists are properly licensed. In 2013, 25 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes did not have a valid motorcycle license.
  • Encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists. According to NHTSA, when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the other driver is often at fault.

The report adds that the various States of the Union conduct much of their motorcycle safety programming through federal safety grants, which are administered by the NHTSA.

Currently, Congress restricts these state programs by permitting them only to address motorcyclist training and programs that encourage drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.

As such, the GHSA has been a strong advocate for broadening these parameters to give states more flexibility in funding effective approaches to addressing motorcyclist safety, such as efforts to increase helmet use and reduce drunk riding.

As you can tell, there is a lot of politics in play when it comes to advocating and enforcing safe motorcycle practices. If only there was an organization that was looking out for the best interests of motorcyclists, instead of just chasing the membership of a vocal minority. Hmpf.

Source: GHSA; Photo: rnickeymouse

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.