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Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State 2012 Preliminary data Summary The number of motorcyclist traffic fatalities in the United States probably increased about 9% in 2012 compared to 2011 based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Motorcyclist fatalities will have increased in 14 of the last 15 years. In the preliminary data, motorcyclist fatalities increased by 4.3% during the first nine months of 2012. The increase will be greater in the final data because some fatalities from these months are not yet included on state data files. The final motorcyclist fatality total for the first nine months of 2010 and 2011 was at least 4.5% greater than the total reported in the preliminary data. If the underreporting is similar in 2012, this suggests that the final motorcyclist fatality total for 2012 will be about 9% greater than the 4,612 recorded in 2011. A 9% motorcyclist fatality increase for the year would exceed the total traffic fatality increase of 5% estimated by the National Safety Council (NSC) and the 7% increase over the first nine months estimated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the 2012 preliminary data, motorcyclist fatalities increased by 24% in the first quarter and by 6% in the second quarter while they decreased by 4% in the third quarter. Through nine months, fatalities increased in 34 states and decreased in 16 states. Fatalities in the District of Columbia were unchanged. Record high temperatures in spring 2012 extended the riding season in cold-weather states and likely are responsible for a large portion of the fatality increases of the first six months. A stronger economy in some states may have encouraged more recreational motorcycling, while continued high gasoline prices may have prompted some riders to use their fuel-efficient motorcycles rather than automobiles for commuting and other everyday travel. In the 14 years from 1997 to 2011, motorcyclist fatalities more than doubled, from 2,116 to 4,612, while total traffic fatalities dropped by 23%, from 42,013 to 32,367. Even after the predicted increase in 2012, total traffic fatalities will have dropped very substantially over the past 15 years. But motorcyclist fatalities in 2012 will have moved even closer to the highest levels ever recorded. National data from 1976 to 2012 suggest that motorcyclist fatalities track motorcycle registrations quite closely and that registrations track inflation-adjusted gasoline prices. If the economy continues to improve and gasoline prices remain high, then motorcycle registrations, travel, and fatalities will continue to rise unless active measures are taken. States seeking to reduce motorcyclist fatalities should adopt strategies to increase helmet use, reduce alcohol impairment, reduce speeding, train all motorcycle operators and ensure that they are properly licensed, and encourage other drivers to share the road with motorcyclists. The most effective strategy by far is to enact a universal helmet use law in the 31 states that lack them. 2 Spotlight on Highway Safety | Governors Highway Safety Association | 444 North Capitol Street | Suite 722 | Washington, DC 20001

Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State 2012 Preliminary data Introduction Motorcyclist fatalities in the United States more than doubled in the 11 years from 1997 to 2008 (Figure 1). The substantial decrease in 2009 brought momentary hope that this deadly trend had been broken. But motorcyclist fatalities increased again in 2010 and 2011. In comparison, passenger vehicle fatalities decreased by 9% over these two years. In 2011, 14% of all traffic fatalities were motorcyclists (NHTSA, 2012a). FATALITIES Figure 1. United States motorcyclist fatalities, 1975-2011 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 75 77 79 81 83 85 87 89 91 93 95 97 99 01 03 05 07 09 11 In January 2013 the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) asked each state, territory, and the District of Columbia to provide their preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for 2012, as they did at the same time in the previous three years. All 50 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico supplied data. Many states also presented their views on why their motorcyclist fatalities increased or decreased. This report summarizes the information received. It should be read with three important considerations in mind. YEAR l Fatalities 1) All data are preliminary, especially for the last few months of 2012. This report presents data through September because these counts are reasonably complete. 2) All data are reported by the states from their traffic record systems. Their motorcyclist fatality counts may differ slightly from the counts recorded in NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). 3) The states’ views on possible reasons for increases or decreases are based on their experience and best judgment, not on any scientific analyses. Throughout this report, a motorcyclist is any person operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor scooter, or other two-wheeled motorized vehicle. The one exception is Florida, which reported motorcycle operator fatalities but not passenger fatalities. 3 Spotlight on Highway Safety | Governors Highway Safety Association | 444 North Capitol Street | Suite 722 | Washington, DC 20001 Source: FARS

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