It appears that motorcycle fatalities in the United States for 2013, have declined. A new report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) says fatalities for 2013 are projected to have declined 7% nationwide from 2012 levels, dropping for only the second time in fifteen years.
That is great news; however, rates are not dropping because of increased focus on safety or higher attendance at rider education courses. The lower rates appear to be due to bad riding conditions. That’s right—a long, dry and warmer winter in 2012 had riders out in droves, compared with the long, cold winter of 2013, which kept riders off the roads. During the first nine months of 2013, 3,638 motorcyclist fatalities were recorded nationwide, compared with 4,046 in 2012 for the same period, according to the GHSA study.
Improving Motorcycle Safety for the Long-term
The report goes on to say, consistent use of proven countermeasures is the best chance of making long-term gains in rider safety, in particular, wearing a helmet. Currently, only nineteen states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 10 times as many un-helmeted rider fatalities in states without universal helmet laws, as there were in states with universal helmet laws. Despite the statistical evidence showing helmets to be the single most effective way to prevent serious injury and death in the event of a crash, many states are succumbing to a trend of repealing helmet laws. The NHTSA reports that helmet use was down to 60 percent in 2012.
In addition to promoting helmet use, the report suggests employing measures to help reduce alcohol impairment and speeding. In 2011, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 29% of motorcyclists killed in a crash had a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher, and one-third of them were speeding.
For the same year, twenty-two percent of riders involved in a fatal crash did not have a valid motorcycle license, signaling that improved access to motorcycle training is needed as well. Many states have motorcycle-training programs and some of them even offer them free to citizens with valid motorcycle licenses. Even if you are a seasoned rider, it never hurts to brush up on your safety—especially at the start of a new riding season.
Have a safe and great riding season and we look forward to seeing you on the open road this year.
Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®