Motorcycle Fatalities At 9-Year High, And The Cause Might Surprise You

July 23, 2008

Higher gas prices are leading to higher motorcycle sales.  In 1997 there were 356,000 motorcycles sold.  In 2006 there were 1.1 million motorcycles sold.  In the same time frame motorcycle fatalities rose nationally from 2,110 to 4,810.

Nationally passenger car fatalities are at a 15-year low, but motorcycle fatalities are at a 9-year high.  The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a comprehensive report on motorcycle safety, and while wearing a helmet is always important, the main cause for the sudden increase in motorcycle fatalities appears to be a lack of proper training for new riders.

AAA found that improper driving skills were a factor in 51% of the crash fatalities involving motorcycles and that one in four motorcyclist involved in a fatal crash nationally did NOT have a valid license.   Only 16 states mandate motorcycle training.  If you are interested in your state GHSA has published a survey of State Safety Programs.

Bruce Gullifer of Hendersonville, North Carolina, has been riding motorcycles for more than 35 years. He just returned from a 40 day round trip from North Carolina to Alaska, and he says you can always spot the novice riders.  They buy bikes that are too large, don’t pay attention to what they are doing, and are not dressed properly.  Bruce has attended six advanced motorcycle training classes.

AAA Carolina recommends that motorcyclists:

1) Take a state approved education course for training on how to ride a motorcycle safely BEFORE getting on the highway.

2) Wear a helmet at all times, and be sure to replace  broken down and worn helmets (14% of motorcycle riders use helmets that do not comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards).  State laws vary on wearing a helmet.  If you are driving across the nation be sure you are legal.