Motorcycle Accident Deaths Continue To Increase: Report

There were a spike in the number of motorcycle accident-related deaths in the first parts of 2012, according to the findings of a new report.  

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report on April 24, which found a significant increase in the number of deaths from motorcycle accidents for the first three quarters of last year. The report estimates that once all of the motorcycle deaths from 2012 are tallied it will show a 9% increase in fatalities.

It is likely that more than 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2012, which would put it on track to being one of the most deadly years for motorcycle deaths on record. It is also the 14th year out of the last 15 that the number of motorcycle accident deaths has increased.

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The GHSA report suggests that a number of factors may be at play in the increasing number of fatal motorcycle crashes. The slowly strengthening economy provided more disposable income to U.S. residents, and many have spent that money buying and riding motorcycles. In addition, gas prices continue to be high, which could have also influenced many people who would normally drive to use more fuel-efficient motorcycles. Nice weather is also a likely factor, increasing the amount of time spent by motorcyclists on the road.

The increased deaths may also be a reflection, in part, of states relaxing their universal helmet laws. According to the GHSA, only 19 states now require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets. That is down from a high of 26 states in 1997.

According to a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June 2012, motorcycle accident deaths accounted for 14% of all road traffic accident deaths in 2010, despite the fact that motorcycles make up less than 1% of vehicle miles traveled that year.

The CDC report found that states that do not require motorcycle helmet use had five times the number of motorcycle accident deaths that states that had motorcycle helmet laws.

Recommendations to improve motorcycle safety include:

  • Increased helmet use
  • Reduce alcohol impairment while riding
  • Reduce speeding
  • Make more motorcycle operator training available
  • Ensure proper motorcycle licensing
  • Educate other drivers on sharing the road with motorcycles


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