Motorcycle Deaths Hold Steady
Even as overall road fatalities decrease
By Dustin Lushing, Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2012 3:52 PM CDT
A stock image of a motorcycle crash.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The number of motorcycle fatalities in 2011 did not budge compared to 2010, even though overall vehicle deaths dipped to the lowest level since 1949, says a new highway safety report. One theory: High gas prices might be encouraging more people to drive motorcycles instead of cars, reports the Los Angeles Times.

About 4,500 died in motorcycle accidents last year, according to projections from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The safety group plans to use the data to push for more mandatory helmet laws. Seven states have scrapped their laws since 1997, and legislation to repeal the laws has been introduced in five others.

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May 25, 2012 2:20 PM CDT I have had a motorcycle license since 1980 and I've always had the high HP bikes ( I have a V-Max). I have never had an accident, a few close calls though. In my experience the most dangerous situations are intersections and low speed riding. Don't ride near shopping malls! Women in SUV's are the devil. I purposely ride at low traffic hours, I never commute. It's a pleasure vehicle. I don't ride above my limits, self preservation is paramount to me. I don't want an accident & go out of my way to avoid them. Motorcycling is a wonderful, pleasant way to get away for a few hours & forget the world for a while. You see things on a motorcycle that you never notice in a car. Also: Riding a motorcycle has made me a safer driver. I'm more aware of my surroundings.
May 24, 2012 9:23 AM CDT
I have been riding for nearly 30 years, and boy do I need some sleep. Kidding aside I have been a motorcyclist for 30 years and one fact remains constant, there are too many single vehicle motorcycle accidents. The majority of these are due to: inexperience, lack of familiarity with a new or borrowed motorcycle and riding beyond your ability. Many 450 lbs motorcycles develop 90 horsepower at the rear wheel, that is similar to a 3000 lb car with 600 hp, you can very quickly get moving VERY fast. One small mistake and well your dead. No room for error. Now consider a modern 1000cc motorcycle about 500 lbs with rider and 190 hp, now imagine your car with 1140 hp. Major7 is absolutely right it is up to the rider to be safe, and rider safety has gotten better since mandatory safety classes have become the norm, but those classes have not kept up with technology. In Maryland the classes are taught on a 250cc 30 hp motorcycle, virtually no one leaves the class and purchases that bike, they go for the 600cc (80hp - 110hp) or 1000cc (130hp - 190hp). A world of difference. In Japan they have graduated license system based on the bikes displacement, perhaps this would work here. As for me I have a 16 year old and he knows how to ride but I wont let him get his motorcycle license until he can prove to me that he is aware of everything around him, every car ( and its relative speed ) and the road condition under his car. I quiz him as he drives by asking him the color of the car behind him and on the highway the color of the car behind him moving the fastest. when some in front changes lanes I ask did they turn their head? Once he can do this he can get his motorcycle license and get a 250cc bike. And I always wear my helmet regardless of the law. The last accident I had involved me on a bike and a school bus, it was all my fault and I totaled my bike and didn't ride for 2 years after.
May 23, 2012 10:47 PM CDT
Motorcycles are a lot harder to protect than four wheeled vehicles. Today's autos are significantly safer than those even of ten years ago. Motorcycle design from a safety perspective has not changed so much since, well... forever... besides better brakes. That helps, but it's still a vehicle where you are the crush zone. There is no safety cage on a bike. It's on the rider to keep from doing stupid things, and from being hit by four wheelers who are oblivious to the world around them. Motorcycles can be made safer, but there is no focus on safety in motorcycle land. If anything, it's just the opposite. States are repealing helmet laws. Inexplicable.