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Motorcycle Fatalities on the Rise

With May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, both motorists and motorcyclists are encouraged to drive safely and with awareness of their fellow drivers. All drivers share the road, regardless of the sizes of their vehicles. Being aware of motorcyclists is one important way all drivers can help make roads safer for everyone.

Unfortunately, motorcycle traffic fatalities have increased in recent years. While there were 4,630 motorcycle fatalities in 2011, this number increased to 4,927 deaths in 2012. These motorcycle fatalities in 2012 accounted for 15 percent of all highway accident fatalities, even though motorcycles made up only three percent of all vehicles on the road.

We have also seen an increase in injuries from motorcycle accidents, with the number of injuries jumping from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when compared to the occupants of a car, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die as a result of a crash. They are also five times more likely to be injured.

The increase in motorcycle fatalities has been accompanied by a decline in helmet use. Only 60 percent of motorcyclists wore helmets in 2012, down from 66 percent in 2011. Alcohol also played a role in motorcycle fatalities in 2012, with 27 percent of motorcyclists intoxicated in fatal crashes, compared to 23 percent of passenger car drivers and 22 percent of light truck drivers.

For tips on safely sharing the road, see our recent post on safe driving tips for motorists and motorcyclists.