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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has recently published their preliminary findings for motorcyclist fatalities and the news isn’t good: The GHSA expects a 10% increase to a total of 4,837 motorcyclist deaths in 2015. This follows two years of declining fatalities throughout the nation, which makes the 2015 increase nearly 450 additional deaths over previous years. 

The increase in number of registered motorcycles and vehicle miles driven are noted factors in the increase of fatalities: between 1997 and 2008, the number of motorcycles registered nearly doubled. Despite this, motorcycles account for only three percent of registered vehicles, but 15% of all motor vehicle fatalities. When compared by miles driven, fatalities of motorcyclists were 26 times that of passenger vehicles in 2013.

As a surprise to none, motorcyclist fatality risk factors include lack of helmet use, the involvement of alcohol and/or speeding, and invalid license. Hawaii noted 60% of fatally injured riders tested positive for alcohol and/or drugs. And a valid license was missing in about 25% of fatally injured motorcyclists.

To combat the rise in motorcyclist deaths, the GHSA suggests some commonsense objectives involving increased helmet use and the continued promotion of Share the Road programs. Helmets reduce head injuries and chances of dying in a crash by 37%, yet surprisingly many states lack universal helmet laws and three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) have no helmet laws at all. Enacting laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets has been shown to increase helmet use to more than 90% and the GHSA notes wearing a helmet could have saved an estimated 715 lives in 2013.

Here in California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) works with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to increase awareness of motorcycle safety year-round, with special emphasis on May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. The CHP also conducts motorcyclist safety enforcement operations focused on reducing risky behavior by passenger vehicle drivers and motorcycle riders alike. In addition, the CHP oversees statewide motorcycle training and safety programs.

The GHSA expects to have finalized 2015 data via the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System by the end of 2016.

Story by Ryan G aka “Little Ms Moto”: Instagram