A summer road trip on your motorcycle may be no safer than last year. No progress was made in reducing motorcyclist deaths in 2011, according to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Based upon preliminary data from 50 states and the District of Columbia, GHSA projects that motorcycle fatalities remained at about 4,500 in 2011, the same level as 2010. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that overall motor vehicle fatalities declined 1.7 percent in 2011, reaching their lowest level since 1949. Motorcycle deaths remain one of the few areas in highway safety where progress is not being made.
Troy Costales, GHSA Chairman said, “It is disappointing that we are not making progress in motorcycle safety, particularly as fatalities involving other motorists continue to decline. As the study notes, the strengthening economy, high gas prices, and the lack of all-rider helmet laws leave me concerned about the final numbers for 2011 and 2012. Every motorcyclist deserves to arrive at their destination safely. These fatality figures represent real people – they’re family, friends and neighbors.” Costales added, “The good news is that we know how to prevent crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities involving motorcycle riders’ and their passengers. There are effective strategies that, if implemented, can make a difference.”
Specifically, the report recommends states address five issues:
- Increase helmet use: Helmets are proven to be 37 percent effective at preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and 41 percent effective for passengers. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,829 motorcyclists’ lives in 2008 and another 822 of the un-helmeted motorcyclists who died in that year would have survived had they worn helmets.
- Reduce alcohol impairment: In 2010, 29 percent of fatally injured riders had a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of .08, the highest of all motorists.
- Reduce speeding: According to the most recent data, 35 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, and more than half did not involve another vehicle.
- Provide motorcycle operator training to all who need or seek it: While all states currently offer training programs, some courses may not be provided at locations and times convenient for riders.
- Encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists: According to NHTSA, when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the latter usually violates the motorcyclist’s right of way. Many states conduct “share the road” campaigns to increase awareness of motorcycles.
This report comes just before Memorial Day Weekend, when at least five large motorcycle rallies are planned across the country, including “Rolling Thunder,” where approximately 100,000 motorcyclists convene in Washington, D.C. to pay tribute to the nation’s veterans. As Chairman Costales noted, “With so many motorcyclists on the road this month, it’s an opportune time to remind all motorists about this critical highway safety issue.”
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, News Release – May 22, 2012 New Study: No Progress in Reducing Motorcyclist Deaths