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Motorcycle Fatality Trends: Good and Bad

The good news: Nationally, the number of deaths in motorcycle accidents fell between 2009 and last year.

The bad news: The decrease in crashes and fatalities was concentrated mostly in the first few months of 2010, with the death rate in succeeding months actually increasing.

Those statistics come courtesy of a report released last week by the Governors Highway Safety Association ("GHSA"). That group states that the fatality drop between 2009 and 2010 was about two percent, reducing the number of motorcyclists killed nationwide from 4,465 in 2009 to 4,376 last year.

Any drop is obviously good news, but GHSA Chairman Vernon Betkey points to the "clear red flag" calling attention to the actual rise in fatalities throughout much of last year. He and other traffic researchers point to a reemerging economy as a primary catalyst for that; more people are engaged again in the workforce, out on the roads and making bike purchases. With more riders sharing the highways, the potential for danger is up.

Moreover, it is increased by the sudden spike in gas prices. When that happens, a motorcycle quickly becomes a comparatively attractive conveyance for many people, which puts even more riders at risk.

The GHSA report also notes that helmet use seems to be dropping appreciably among motorcycle riders across the country. We noted in one of our previous blog posts (March 22) a study indicating that helmeted riders are far less likely to suffer spine injuries in crashes than are riders who are not wearing helmets.

Ohio requires motorcyclists under 18 and their passengers to wear helmets. Riders over that age can ride without a helmet.

Related Resource: U.S. News & World Report, "Motorcycle Deaths Drop for Second Straight Year: Report" April 19, 2011

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