April 2011 - Motorcyclist fatalities declined by at least 2 percent last year, according to a report released on April 19 by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports
Based on preliminary data, the GHSA projects that fatalities declined from 4,465 in 2009 to 4,376 or fewer in 2010.
In their report (.pdf) , the group said the projection is based on data from 50 states and the District of Columbia. The decline comes on the heels of a dramatic 16 percent drop in 2009, which followed 11 straight years of steady increases in motorcycle deaths, the GHSA said.
The GHSA is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Its members are appointed by their governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans.
"We are encouraged by the further decline in rider fatalities," said Ed Moreland, AMA senior vice president for government relations, reacting to the GHSA report. "We hope to see this trend in declining fatalities continue. "But without hard data to support the reasons behind the decline, it is difficult to speculate on the reasons," he added.
"The lack of data underscores the need for a fully comprehensive crash causation study to understand the reasons that riders crash," Moreland said. "That is why we are supportive of the study currently under way at the University of Oklahoma and being directed Dr. Samir Ahmed."
The comprehensive motorcycle crash causation study is being conducted at the Oklahoma Transportation Center, an independent and well-respected research facility at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The last major motorcycle crash study was completed in 1980, and it provided a wealth of data that has been used to develop training and strategies to help keep riders safer on the road.
In the decades since, the traffic environment has changed enormously, prompting the AMA to begin campaigning for a new study several years ago, which led to the Oklahoma research.