Preliminary data from the report projects up to 4,762 motorcycle fatalities in 2009, down from 5,290 in 2008 across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The data includes final totals from some states and estimates based on data from a portion of the year.
According to the GHSA, nearly 75% of states are projected to have fewer fatalities than in 2008. In California, motorcycle deaths are projected to be down 29%, based on data from the first nine months. Florida fatalities are down 27% while New York is down 16%.
Several reasons were cited for the decline, including less motorcycle travel due to the economy, fewer new riders, improved safety programs and poor riding weather.
“Clearly the economy played a large role in motorcycle deaths declining in 2009,” says Vernon Betkey, GHSA chairman. “Less disposable income translates into fewer leisure riders, and we suspect that the trend of inexperienced baby boomers buying bikes may have subsided.”
While a decrease in fatality is positive news, Betkey says it is too early to say a trend is developing.
“We will need to see three to five years of decline before we are ready to say that a positive trend has developed,” says Betkey.