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Report Paints Bleak Picture Of Motorcycle Safety

Motorcyclist safety has not improved in 15 years, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. While car accident fatalities have trended downward, the danger of motorcycling has remained static or even grown. While 2013 saw fewer motorcycle fatalities than 2012, the drop has been attributed to bad weather keeping riders off the roads. The 2013 total of 4,610 rider deaths is far too high and needs to be addressed.

Two factors have contributed heavily to the alarming total of fatal motorcycle crashes. The first is an increase in the number of new riders taking to the roads. Motorcycles are more popular than ever. New riders are naturally more likely to make deadly mistakes than experienced riders. From 2003 to 2013, the number of registered motorcycles increased by more than 3 million.

The second factor contributing to the danger of motorcycling is the decline in helmet use by motorcyclists. In 2000, helmet use hit its peak at 71 percent. By 2013, the number was down to 60 percent as states repealed or pared back helmet laws. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 800 fewer deaths would have occurred in 2012 if every motorcyclist wore a helmet.

These statistics should not obscure an important point-the majority of car/motorcycle collisions are caused by the driver of the automobile. The rise in distracted driving may be contributing to the danger faced by motorcyclists. The call to start seeing motorcycles has never been more important. The few moments of attention directed to a phone or navigation device could be the moments that claim a life.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Motorcycle Crashes," August 2014

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