► Motorcycle News 2010
Motorcycle Fatality Rates Drop in 2009
Motorcyclist Fatalities Drop 16% in 2009
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September 10, 2010 - In what can only be considered good news for motorcyclists, federal officials have reported that motorcycling deaths on the nation's roads dropped by 16 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year, according to the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).
"The death of any motorcyclist is one too many, so this news that fatalities are down is encouraging," said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations.
"While we are pleased that the number of motorcycling fatalities dropped dramatically in 2009, a one-year drop isn't a trend. We need to determine why, and ensure that the decline continues."
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures, motorcycling fatalities have decreased in the past -- from 1980 to 1997 -- but then fatalities increased steadily for 11 years.
2,294 motorcyclists were killed in 1998, and the number of fatalities rose each subsequent year, reaching 5,312 in 2008. In addition, approximately 90,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents in 2009, down from approximately 96,000 in 2008, or a drop of -6.3%.
Moreland cautioned that there will be speculation about why motorcycling fatalities are down so significantly in 2009, and noted that there aren't any solid answers.
"The motorcycling community looks forward to receiving some real answers about motorcycle crashes and what causes them from the new federal crash causation study that is under way at Oklahoma State University (OSU) through the Oklahoma Transportation Center in Stillwater," Moreland said. "Then we can put our heads together to find solutions, reduce crashes and save more lives."
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is overseeing the just-begun, four-year, $3 million OSU study, which is the first major research on the subject in 30 years.
The last major study into the causes of motorcycle crashes was issued in January 1981. Called "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures Volume I: Technical Report," the study became known as the "Hurt Report," (summary) named after lead researcher Hugh "Harry" Hurt of the University of Southern California. Hurt was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007 for his pioneering work.
That study provided a wealth of data that has been used by organizations and individual motorcyclists to help keep riders safer on the road. But the traffic environment has changed enormously in the decades since, prompting the AMA to begin campaigning for a new study several years ago.
Report From the U.S. Department of Transportation
September 9, 2010 - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released updated 2009 fatality and injury data showing that all highway deaths fell to 33,808 for the year, the lowest number since 1950. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels.
In addition, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded: 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.
Fatalities declined in all categories of vehicles including motorcycles, which saw fatalities fall by 850 from 2008, breaking an 11-year cycle of annual increases. The number of motorcycle fatalities is still huge, at 4,462 in 2009, down from 5,312 in 2008.
"Today’s announcement shows that America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been. But they must be safer. And we will not rest until they are" said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
As part of the Department’s campaign to reduce traffic fatalities, Secretary LaHood will convene a National Distracted Driving Summit on Sept. 21 in Washington, D.C.
The Secretary will bring together leading transportation officials, safety advocates, law enforcement, industry representatives, researchers and victims affected by distraction-related crashes to address challenges and identify opportunities for national anti-distracted driving efforts. This follows the first summit Secretary LaHood held in the Fall of 2009 that sparked a national conversation about texting and talking on cell phones while driving.
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study based on 2006 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 3 and 34.
In addition to the record-breaking drop in fatalities, the number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 declined for a 10th straight year in a row, falling an estimated 5.5 percent from 2008, according to NHTSA data released today.
Federal officials said traffic deaths involving all vehicles nationwide fell 9.7 percent in 2009 -- from 37,423 in 2008 to 33,808. The figure is the lowest since 1950. Traffic safety officials said that the decrease may be due to increased seat belt use, tougher enforcement of drunk driving laws and improved vehicle safety features.
Alcohol impaired driving fatalities declined by 7.4 percent in 2009 – 10,839 compared to 11,711 reported in 2008. Overall, 33 states and Puerto Rico experienced a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009 compared to 2008.
Highlights of the latest Fatality Analysis Reporting System (.pdf file) (FARS) include related NHTSA data.
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