A highway safety report published in May 2018 entitled Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2017 Preliminary Data by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a nonprofit serving state highway safety offices provides a look at the motorcycle fatality data for each individual state. In 2017 deaths related to motorcycle accidents amounted to 4,990, that is 296 fewer lives than in 2016 – a projected decrease of 5.6%.  Despite this decrease in motorcycle related casualties, they continue to represent a disproportionately large number in traffic fatalities.

by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a nonprofit serving state highway safety offices provides a look at the motorcycle fatality data for each individual state. In 2017 deaths related to motorcycle accidents amounted to 4,990, that is 296 less lives than in 2016 – a projected decrease of 5.6%.  Despite this decrease in motorcycle related casualties, they continue to represent a disproportionately large number in traffic fatalities.

To reflect this NYC Motorcycle attorney Robert Aronov was quoted as saying “sadly, in the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I am confronted with motorcycle negligence cases at a higher rate than ever”.

When compared to passenger vehicle occupant-related traffic deaths, motorcycle deaths occur 28 times more often per mile travelled. The numbers in the report are estimations based on initial data obtained from the District of Columbia and all fifty states for 2017. There was a decrease in motorcycle deaths in thirty states compared to 2016.  Two states remained the same, and there was an increase in eighteen states.

Author of the report, Tara Casanova Powell, reflected on the yearly fluctuation over the last decade and that although the decrease in motorcycle fatality numbers is something worthy of taking note, “…we really need to see a sustained trend downward toward eventually eliminating motorcycle fatalities altogether.” She also noted that 2017 was a strong hurricane year, which may have attributed to the decrease in motorcycle fatalities, however, emphasizing “clearly, we can’t – and shouldn’t – rely on bad weather to prevent motorcyclist deaths.”

Some factors contributing to motorcycle deaths in 2017 indicated by the states include:

  • Aging riding population – 40+ age riders make up the greatest number of motorcycle deaths across the country, a shift from previous years with younger riders being overrepresented.
  • Drug impairment – with the legalization of recreational marijuana in various states, there is a possibility that there are more drivers under the influence of marijuana.
  • Alcohol impairment – In 2016 the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 25% of motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents was over the legal limit. The trend appears to continue for 2017
  • Distraction – it was reported by various states that there was an increase in distracted motorcycle riding fatalities

A number of strategies are in place to reduce motorcycle-related deaths and injuries. For instance, some states have enacted laws requiring ignition interlocks preventing the motorcycle from starting if the drivers’ breath reveals alcohol. These and similar approaches have the ability to reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities.  Implementing these, researching new approaches and maintaining what we know works – helmet laws – we may see an increase in traffic safety and reduction casualties.  Consider how 802 lives could have been saved in 2016 if only a helmet had been worn.