AMA Requests National Accident Study

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA),responding to new motorcycling-related fatality statistics released by theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has again called for acomprehensive nationwide study of motorcycle-accident data.

Figures released Monday by the NHTSA indicate that 3,067 motorcyclistswerekilled on the nation's roads in 2001, up from 2,862 the previous year. Thepreliminary estimate represents a 7.2 percent increase over 2000.The AMA expressed concern over the increase in motorcycling fatalities,butobserved that the raw numbers offer no clear explanation for the increase...

"The death of any motorcyclist is a tragedy," said Edward Moreland, vicepresident of AMA government relations, "but because there's no recent research,we don't know the reasons behind the increase in fatalities."

"The last comprehensive federal study of motorcycling accident data waspublished in 1980, and dealt with accidents only in Southern California.The NHTSA figures also indicate that although motorcycling-relatedfatalities were up for the fourth straight year, the 2001 increase was halfthatof the preceding year. The recent upward trend followed 17 consecutive years ofdeclines. From 1990 through 1999 alone, motorcycling-related fatalities droppedby 48 percent.

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

For the past several years, the AMA has asked the NHTSA to conduct anationwide study of motorcycling accidents that would help identify elementsthat can improve rider safety. In 2000, the AMA and other industry groupssucceeded in incorporating a motorcycle-accident study in the National Agendafor Motorcycle Safety, which was released by the NHTSA and the privateMotorcycle Safety Foundation to serve as a blueprint for improving motorcyclingsafety. That motorcycle-accident study has not yet been scheduled.

"With more motorcycles on the road comes the unfortunate probability ofmore accidents involving motorcyclists," said the AMA's Moreland. "It'simperative that the NHTSA conduct comprehensive research to define the reasonsfor motorcycling accidents. Only then can we put together effective programs toreduce accidents."

The AMA has long supported motorcycle rider safety training, stricterlicensing laws, appropriate riding gear and motorist-awareness campaigns aseffective ways to reduce motorcycling accident and injury rates. The AMA alsolaunched a program called "Motorcyclists Matter" that seeks to make car driversmore responsible when they inflict injuries on motorcyclists, bicyclists,pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

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Brent Avis
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