Motorcycles have tremendous appeal in an era when gas prices are high, as they have been for some time. However, a recent study released by the Federal Highway Administration reports on a trend in the number of motorcyclist deaths occurring each year. The statistics are alarming. Dr. James Hedlund, an employee from Highway Safety North, recently composed one of the first reports compiling and comparing data from motorcycle fatalities across the nation.
Did you know that fatal motorcycle accidents reportedly increased by 9% in 2012? Future projections for motorcycle fatalities are upwards of 5,000 deaths per year. While the reports vary from state-to-state, the general trend indicates that motorcycle fatalities are expected to continue increasing.
Why Travel by Car, When You Can Travel Cheaply?
When the weather or the economy warms up, there are more motorcycle riders on the road. This means more fatalities. With the economy slowly rebounding in recent years, the number of motorcycle riders has gone up. Wary of steadily expensive gas prices, people gravitate towards motorcycles as more a cost-effective means of transportation. With a gradually improving economy, people have more excess income. Studies show greater accident reports in direct correlation to economic upturns and downturns. Additionally, accident numbers spike in peak riding seasons, when the weather gets warm and the bikes come out.
While increased motorcycle activity is not necessarily a negative trend, we have reason to worry about the increasing number of accidents. These bikers are our friends, family, and neighbors. When riding a bike, there are many risks familiar to all drivers. But in the case of motorcyclists, these risks are amplified.
Alcohol is a leading cause of fatal motorcycle injuries. On average, nearly one-third of fatally injured riders have a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit. Speeding and lack of training are also huge factors. Another third of fatal motorcycle accidents occur when the rider is speeding. And many riders haven’t received proper training.
Additionally, there is too little awareness about “share the road” policies that promote other drivers to treat motorcyclists appropriately in traffic situations. With the lack of effectively observed laws, and an increase in motorcycle riding, drivers need to be extra cautious. It doesn’t help that less than half of the states in the U.S. now require motorcyclists to wear helmets. Riders need to use their heads and protect themselves.