Motorcycle Related Deaths Rise Again

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
The following press release (from the Associated Press) paints a portrait of motorcyclists that is sure to reverberate badly throughout the country. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are often riding intoxicated, speeding, and riding without a valid motorcycle license, all of which contribued to the third year in a row of rising death rates.

The report goes on to comment on how motorcycles are getting bigger and faster and how the NHTSA is working with various manufacturers, state groups "and others" to find a solution to this problem.

Take a look at the following release and let us know what you think. What does this mean for the motorcycle community?

WASHINGTON (AP) - More motorcycle riders are dying in crashes, andfederal officials want to know why.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study releasedTuesday shows that 2,472 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in1999, the largest number of fatalities since 1991. It was the second straightyear that the number rose over the year before.

The number of deaths rose 17 percent between 1997 and 1999. The increase mirrors a rise in the number of motorcycles on the road...There were 4.2 million motorcycles registered in 1999, up 9 percent from3.8 million in 1997.

``Unfortunately, the increase in motorcycle popularity has been followed bya rise in fatalities,'' Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said.

Motorcyclists are much more likely to die in a crash than the driver of apassenger car. For every 100 million miles traveled, 1.9 automobile driversdied in an accident compared with 36.5 motorcyclists.

NHTSA, along with state officials, motorcycle manufacturers and others,are trying to find out why the death rates are rising again.

The federal agency has proposed a safety program that would includeletting the states, who license motorcyclists, learn of the best trainingprograms; pushing anew for motorcyclists to wear helmets and to not drinkand drive; teaching car and truck drivers to be more aware ofmotorcyclists; and studying new braking systems for motorcycles.

The NHTSA study found that 41 percent of motorcyclists in fatal crasheswere speeding, that almost half who died in single vehicle crashes weredriving under the influence of alcohol, and that almost one in six motorcycleriders were driving without a valid license.

Most of the increases in deaths occurred among motorcyclists at least 40years old. Deaths among those aged 40 to 49 rose from 405 in 1997 to 567in 1999, and those over 49 from 294 to 401 during the same two-yearperiod. But the greatest number of fatalities remain among riders betweenthe ages of 20 and 29, growing from 694 in 1997 to 758 in 1999.

At the same time, older motorcyclists had a lower fatality rate than thoseaged 20 to 39.

Almost 52 percent of fatal accidents occurred on rural roads in 1999, ascompared with 47 percent on urban streets. In 1990, 55 percent of fatalmotorcycle crashes took place in urban areas, compared with 45 percent inrural areas.

Motorcycles are also getting bigger. In 1990, the average size of amotorcycle in a fatal crash was 769 cubic centimeters. In 1999, theaverage size was 922 cc.

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