Motorcycle Accident Injury Risk Linked to Gas Prices: Study

The findings of a new study suggest that there is a potential link between the price of gas in the U.S. and the risk of motorcycle injuries, with more people riding motorcycles when prices go up.

In a study published this month in the journal Injury Prevention, researchers from University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health looked at data on fatal and non-fatal motorcycle injuries that occurred between 2002 and 2011, collected by California’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. Those motorcycle injury rates were then compared to trends on gasoline prices per gallon.

Lead researcher He Zhu found that the rate of motorcycle accidents was linked to increases gas prices and other economic factors.

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“Motorcycle fatalities and severe and minor injuries in California were highly correlated with increasing gasoline prices from 2002 to 2011,” Zhu determined. “In 2008, the number of fatalities and injuries reached 13,457 — a 34% increase since 2002, a time period in which inflation-adjusted gasoline prices increased about $0.30 per gallon every year.”

Zhu’s numbers indicate that rising gas prices accounted for 800 deaths and 10,290 injuries in California motorcycle accidents from 2002 to 2011.

The study also found that more than 90% of those involved in motorcycle accidents were men. Nearly half were middle-aged, and two-thirds were white. One out of every five injured riders were uninsured, and the accidents were most likely to occur in urban areas during the afternoon.

“Aside from mandatory helmet laws and their enforcement, other strategies may include raising risk awareness of motorcyclists and investment in public transportation as an alternative transportation modality to motorcycling,” Zhu concluded. “In addition, universally mandated training courses and strict licensing tests of riding skills should be emphasised to help reduce the motorcycle fatal and non-fatal injuries.”

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