A drop in motorcycle fatalities in 2013 is being attributed to bad weather, rather than to a safer environment for motorcyclists in a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association. After increasing by more than 7 percent from 2011 to 2012, motorcycle fatalities dropped 7 percent in 2013. Unfortunately, what appears to be a safety gain might be entirely the result of fewer miles driven by motorcyclists due to inclement weather. The GHSA report concluded that 2013 marks the 15th consecutive year of stagnant motorcycle safety numbers.
The report on motorcycle crashes revealed several interesting factors. Over the last decade, the profile of the typical victim of a motorcycle accident fatality has changed. Older riders, operators over the age of 40, make up a larger percentage of accident victims than they once did. In 2011, 56 percent of those killed in motorcycle accidents were over 40. This may reflect the increase in people over the age of 40 taking up motorcycling as a hobby or as a means of transportation. As in auto accidents, inexperienced drivers are more likely to make deadly mistakes.
Also noteworthy from the study was the frequency with which speeding and licensing issues arose in deadly crashes. In 2012, more than one-third of riders in fatal motorcycle accidents were speeding. That is a much higher percentage than seen in fatal car crashes. In addition, 24 percent of riders killed in 2012 did not have a valid license at the time of the accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motorcyclists are six times more likely to die in a crash than passenger car occupants. While traffic fatalities have generally decreased in those driving cars, motorcyclists have seen an increase in deaths. The reasons for this need to be addressed to keep motorcyclists safe in the future.
Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Motorcycle Crashes" August 2014