Motorcycles on the Road

The National Highway Transportation Administration has designated May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness month! Now that the weather is warming up, you’ll be sure to see more and more motorcyclists on the road. It’s important to be cognizant of these riders when driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, in the first nine months of 2012, Texas had the most fatalities from motorcycle vehicle accidents – 358. Although this number was down from 2011, it is still incredibly high.  Motorcycle deaths more than doubled from 1997-2008, and they are continuing to rise.

There are several reasons for the increase in fatalities. First, weather plays a huge role in the ability to even use a motorcycle. When the weather is warmer, as it was in 2012, motorcyclists are able to get out and ride. 34 states west of the Rocky Mountains had a warmer than average spring. Mild weather means more cyclists on the road.

Second, a better economy creates more discretionary income. People are able to buy motorcycles, or repair the ones they already have. Next, gasoline prices can affect the number of motorcyclists on the road. When gas prices are higher, commuters tend to be creative to save some money. Since motorcycles have great gas mileage, more and more commuters use their motorcycles to get to work.

Lastly, there were more motorcycle registrations and endorsements in 2012 than in previous years. With more drivers and motorcyclists on the road, fatalities are bound to increase. The Governors Highway Safety Association has some recommendations for preventing motorcyclist crashes and fatalities.

Helmets: The number one, most effective way to reduce fatalities is for riders to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators.

Speeding: Speed plays a part in the fatalities. In 2010, 35% of riders involved in motorcycle fatalities were speeding.

Alcohol: 29% of the motorcycle fatalities in 2010 had drivers with alcohol limits above the legal limit of 0.08.

Training: If you are unsure of how to operate a motorcycle, or are new at it, consider taking a motorcycle operator’s course. All states have training courses. Additionally, 22% of motorcyclists that died in 2010 did not have a valid motorcycle license. Having the proper training, and licensure, could reduce the number of fatalities.

With the warmer weather approaching, make sure you are looking twice for motorcyclists. Remember, “Share the Road.”

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