The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (http:www.nhtsa.dot.gov) has released a "Recent Trends in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes: An Update" dated June, 2006. This is the latest update on motorcycle statistics. Since May is the official Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, I have listed some interesting statistics from this report to encourage you to take safety precautions and ride safe.
-Motorcycle rider fatalities have increased for the seventh year in a row. Since 1997, fatalities have increased an alarming 89 percent, from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,008 in 2004. This increase relates in part due to a sustained 14 year increase in the purchase of motorcycles. The previous four years show combined registered motorcycle purchases at 1 million plus per year. Bottom line: More motorcycles on the road create more chances of accident occurence.
-Among all riders, motorcycle operators in the 20-29 age group had the largest percentage of fatal crashes even though this age group is purchasing fewer motorcycles than previous years. Speeding is one of the major contributors to fatalities in this age group. Bottom line: Is it inexperience, youthful exuberance and the need for speed, lack of proper training or a combination of the three that is causing the discrepancy?
-Motorcycle Industry Council findings show an increase in motorcycle purchases in the 40 and above age group. In the last 10 years, there has been an increase in rider fatalities in the 40 and above age group. Bottom line: More people in that age group with motorcycles on the road create more chances of accident occurence. The Council says the gap is narrowing between the 20-29 year old rider fatalities and the above 40 group fatalities.
-The largest percentage of fatal motorcycle crashes were by operators with a blood alcohol content of .08 and more. The percentage has decreased from the previous 10 years. Bottom line: Drinking and riding is decreasing, but drinking is still a large contributor in fatal motorcycle crashes. Don't drink and ride!
-72 percent of fatalties in operator age group 40-49 involved alcohol. I can't say it enough, Don't drink and ride!
-70 percent of all fatalities occur on undivided highways. This could be a lack of proper training in cornering, inattention, or excessive speed. Bottom Line: Polish your skills and Practice, Practice, Practice.
The best defense is a good offense. In motorcycle terms, that means you need to keep your skills polished by practicing, keep your eyes focused on the road and play nice with other vehicles.
Until next time, ride safe.