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Massachusetts: Why 2021 Showed the Highest Road-Going Mortality Rate

A side view of a rider

Earlier today, we hit upon a rather interesting report that showed the state of Massachusetts recorded over 40,000 fewer crashes in 2020 versus 2019.

That number, we’re told, “only partially rebounded [in 2021].”

Despite this, the state also recorded 408 collision-related casualties – 389 of those collisions being fatal to more than one person. That’s the most casualties that have been recorded since 2007, recounts Yahoo! News.

So how can a state measure crash rates to be at an all-time low and mortality rates to be at an all-time high?

We’re told motorcyclists account for at least half of the answer. 

police taking a picture of a motorcycle accident

Source: Times Union

Riders might have a max of two passengers, but the mortality rate is far higher for a bike accident than a car – and while the pandemic brought about a pause in many aspects of life, it was also the catalyst for a slew of new riders (and old riders getting back on the road). 

More riders, higher mortality rates.

“Over the last 20 years in Massachusetts, 2.5 percent of crashes involving motorcycles and mopeds resulted in a death, versus just 0.3 percent of all crashes,” recounts the article.

“The number of fatal crashes involving motorcycles is up over 50 percent in just two years. Combined with mopeds, motorcycles account for more than half the two-year increase in fatal crashes, according to state data.”

A view of a broken bike being taken to a wrecker in Boston

Source: The Boston Herald

Here’s how it happened, according to Bonnie Polin.

“When many people stopped commuting to work in March 2020, traffic cleared up, and people were able to drive faster,” she says.

“During the early days of covid, people took out fast cars and saw how fast they can do.”

“That continued.”

Motorcycle helmet on the street after a fatal accident with a car

Stein from the Safe Roads Alliance has another hypothesis – one that I’m sure we can all relate to.

“The majority of people are really trying to follow the rules with COVID,” she says.

“When people get back in their cars, they might not want to follow any more rules – they’re tapped out, and this is their personal space to shut everyone else.”

Be sure to stay safe on the twisties for 2022, everybody

Drop a comment below – you know we love hearing from you. Be sure to also check out our archives on motorcycle safety, and let us know what you think.