According to estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), motorcycle fatalities have increased by 10% nationwide in the last year. This marks the first time since 2008 and the third time in US history that the number of motorcyclist deaths surpassed 5,000. The report comes in the midst of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, reminding us of the important responsibility we have as drivers.
The GHSA’s preliminary data claimed there were 5,010 US motorcycle related deaths in 2015, 450 more than the previous year. The report also provides the breakdown of fatalities by state. Motorcyclist deaths increased in 31 states, decreased in 16, and remained unchanged in 3 states and Washington, D.C. California saw a 7% decline in deaths, from 527 in 2014 to 489 last year. However, due to its large motorcycle population, California’s total number of deaths were the second highest in the nation after Florida.
There are a variety of factors that could be contributing to the growing fatality numbers. According to the GHSA, increased travel, warmer weather, and low fuel prices are all contributing causes. But some argue the spike in deaths is a result of helmet regulations, or lack thereof. Currently, 31 states do not require motorcycle riders to wear protective headgear, although this was not always the case. In 1967, all but 3 states required riders to wear helmets. However, a number of states repealed these regulations after Congress ended the right for federal authority to enforce penalties.
Because motorcyclists are much more likely to be killed in an accident than vehicle occupants, wearing the proper protection on the road is vital to keeping motorcyclists safe. The GHSA reports, “The most important injury protection mechanism for motorcyclists is to wear a DOT-compliant helmet. Helmets reduce head and brain injuries and decrease the risk of dying in a crash by 37%”. In addition to wearing the right helmet, riders should also wear bright clothing, follow road regulations, and never drive under the influence. Jonathan Adkins, GHSA Executive Director said they will continue to do everything possible to keep motorcyclists safe. “GHSA and its members will continue to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based motorcycle safety countermeasures to improve rider safety and, ultimately, save lives.”
If you or your loved ones have been involved in a motorcycle accident or have questions about motorcycle safety, please do not hesitate to contact us or call us at 800-676-5295.