In 1997, more than 2,100 motorcyclists were killed, and another 54,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. More than 7,000 of those injured were riders between ages 15 and 20, and 36 percent of those who died were between ages 16 and 29. Ninety percent of the people who died were male; nearly all of them were operating the bike. Among females who died, 72 percent were passengers.
Per mile driven, motorcyclists are about 14 times more likely than persons in a car to die in a motor vehicle crash, and they’re about 3 times more likely to be injured. While motorcycles make up less than 2 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists account for 6 percent of total traffic deaths.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), the nation’s foremost advocacy organization for the rights and safety of street motorcyclists, was not surprised to hear that motorcycle fatalities reported for calendar year 2001 exceeded those reported for 2000. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a preliminary report yesterday indicating that motorcycle fatalities increased approximately 7% and motorcycle occupants injured increased approximately 2% in 2001.
Reasons for the predicted spike in motorcycle fatalities
First, the waiting period for rider training was upwards of a year through the late 1990s, with many states turning away as many riders as they trained. It is worse now, withnew motorcycle sales having soared in the past few years (from some 300,000 new units sold in 1990 to 710,000 in 2000).
Second, states have backed down from their commitment to motorcycle safety by sharply cutting or totally eliminating rider training funds. Meanwhile, riders do more than their share, from paying extra fees on registration (thought to be “protected” and “earmarked” for rider training) to volunteering to teach Motorist Awareness of Motorcycles in drivers’ education courses.
Third, NHTSA continues to promote “safer crashing” – that is, policies it hopes will reduce injury severity AFTER an accident has occurred. For example, the agency’s draft Motorcycle Safety Improvement Program (McSIP), released in May 2001, was roundly criticized for its “injury reduction” approach to motorcycle safety, and its lack of attention to dangerous car drivers (responsible for the majority of multiple-vehicle crashes).
If you or a loved one are the victim of a motorcycle accident, call Michael Padway & Associates, California motorcycle attorneys experienced in motorcycle injury accident cases and lawsuits in Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. Call us at 415-777-1511, or fill out this online contact form. Meet with us and find out how we can help you start rebuilding your life and get you a fair settlement for your motorcycle injury.