NHTSA 2002 Stats

Press Release from AMA:

Washington, DC: Motorcycling-related fatalities were up three percent for the year 2002 compared to the previous year, according to preliminary estimates released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Meanwhile, overall highway fatalities were up about 1.5 percent in 2002 to 42,850, compared to 42,116 in 2001, the traffic safety agency said. That represents the highest number of fatalities since 1990.

The federal agency's preliminary report states that 3,276 motorcyclists lost their lives on America's roads in 2002, or 95 more than the 3,181 killed in 2001.

While deaths are up, the preliminary estimate shows that the increase in motorcyclist fatalities over the past several years has slowed, even though motorcycle sales continued at near-record levels.

"This slowdown is a hopeful sign, but there is still a lot we can do to save motorcyclists' lives on our nation's highways," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "The top priority for anyone interested in saving motorcyclists' lives should be legislation in Congress to fund comprehensive research into the causes of motorcycle crashes.

"Drunk riding also needlessly causes deaths, and the AMA is launching a national Ride Straight campaign in cooperation with the NHTSA to educate riders about the dangers of drinking and riding," Moreland said.

The upward trend of motorcycling fatalities in recent years followed 17 consecutive years of declines. From 1990 through 1999 alone, motorcycling-related fatalities dropped by 48 percent.

The AMA noted that one significant reason for the increase in motorcycling-related fatalities in recent years is that motorcycling has seen an enormous increase in popularity, with sales of new street bikes up more than 100 percent over five years - from about 243,000 in 1997 to more than 500,000 in 2001.

Moreland and his staff in the AMA's Washington, DC, office are working on Capitol Hill to get $3 million in funding for an in-depth motorcycle crash study. That funding would be part of congressional reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.

More than 60 federal lawmakers have signed a letter delivered to US Representative Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, urging him to back this study to find ways to prevent motorcycle crashes. The last such study - "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures," commonly called the Hurt Report (after lead researcher Harry Hurt) - was conducted more than 20 years ago.

Rider-training and motorist-awareness programs are just two of the efforts to improve motorcyclists' safety that were prompted by the Hurt Report.

NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) also shows that, in 2002:

:: Of the total, alcohol-related deaths in 2002 accounted for 42 percent - 17,970 deaths - up from 41 percent (17,448) in 2001. Deaths in low alcohol crashes (.01-.07 blood alcohol content) dropped 7.2 percent to 2,335 deaths. Deaths of persons in high alcohol crashes (.08 BAC and above) rose 4.7 percent. Alcohol-related fatalities have been rising steadily since 1999.
:: Fatalities from large truck crashes dropped from 5,082 in 2001 to 4,902 in 2002, a 3.5 percent decline.
:: Young drivers (16-20) were involved in 7,722 fatal crashes in 2002, up slightly from 7,598 in 2001.
:: The number of occupant fatalities for children ages eight to 15 increased by nearly nine percent.
:: In 2002, vehicle miles traveled increased slightly to 2.83 trillion, up from 2.78 trillion in 2001, according to the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration.

NHTSA annually collects crash statistics from 50 states and the District of Columbia to produce the annual report on traffic fatality trends. The final 2002 report, pending completion of data collection and quality control verification, will be available in August. Summaries of the preliminary report are available on the NHTSA web site at:
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George Obradovich
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