Safe Riding

Motorcycle Fatalities Down in 2013

Written by  May 29, 2014

According to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 2013 was only the second year since 1997 that motorcycle fatalities saw a decline in numbers. Comparing year-to-year numbers for the first nine months of 2012 with 2013, the GHSA said fatalities decreased in the District of Columbia and 35 states, increased in 13 states and remained the same in two.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle deaths accounted for 15 percent of highway fatalities in 2011, though motorcycles amount to just 3 percent of vehicle registrations. Alcohol plays the biggest part in crashes, with 27% of riders being legally intoxicated and motorcyclists killed at night are three times as likely as other drivers to have been drunk, according to the NHTSA report.

Data from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that people in cars were twice as safe in 2011 as they were in 1997, but there was no improvement in the numbers of motorcyclists during the same time span. They attributed this to the increase safety features of cars, while there has been no such safety improvement for motorcycles. A major contributing factor as well is the increasing decline in the use of helmets when riding.

Currently, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring helmets for all riders. Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes, NHTSA said, and the federal agency said the use of helmets dropped to 60 percent in 2012 from 66 percent in 2011. It estimated that 1,699 lives were saved by helmets in 2012, and that 781 more riders would have survived had they been wearing them.