Last week, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released its latest motorcycle fatality study. More than 5,000 motorcyclists perished on our nation’s roads last year, which represents an increase of nine percent across the country from 2011 to 2012. This is the 14th year out of the past 15 years that motorcyclist deaths increased nationwide. Sadly, motorcyclists remain one of the few U.S. roadways user groups where no progress can be shown over the last decade.
The head of Oregon’s highway safety program made a sincere and urgent call for our state and our nation to address this growing problem, that will only get worse with increased ridership, saying: “In my state, an improving economy and a longer window of nice weather meant there were even more riders and riding days. The fatality increase is disheartening. Every motorcyclist deserves to arrive at their destination safely. These numbers represent real people – they are family, friends, and neighbors.”
Some recommendations that this stark study makes to help reduce motorcycle accident fatalities include:
- Increase helmet use. Helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and even more effective in preventing injury to motorcycle passengers. Only 19 states in the union (including Oregon) currently require all riders to wear helmets.
- Reduce alcohol impairment. Alcohol was a factor in almost one third of motorcycle fatalities in 2010.
- Reduce speeding. According to most recent data, 35 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were riding well above the speed limit.
- Improved training for motorcycle riders.
- Ensuring that bikers have proper licenses.
- Encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the latter has usually violated the motorcyclist’s right of way.