by American Insurance News Release on Jun 1, 2018
Why are motorcyclists over-represented in overall crashes and fatalities?
Motorcyclists now represent approximately 14% of all motor vehicle-related fatalities, up from just 5.7% in the 23 years since 1994. In 2016, 5,286 motorcyclists lost their lives on America's roads.
Based on preliminary, state-reported data, GHSA projects a 5.6% decline in motorcyclist fatalities in 2017 – a difference of 296 lives nationwide. The nationwide decline is good news, but not all states are showing improvement. Compared with 2016, motorcyclist fatalities decreased in 30 states, and increased in 18 states.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides these statistics on motorcycle safety in the United States:
State responses indicate a variety of factors may have been contributing to motorcyclist fatalities in 2017, including:
With recreational marijuana legalized in several states, there may be a higher number of drivers and motorcyclists under the influence of drugs. Marijuana impairment is known to increase a person’s crash risk, and a 2017 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study found that overall vehicle collision claims in states with legalized recreational marijuana were three percent higher than would have been expected without legalization.
Several states reported an increase in distracted riding fatalities in recent years, with one state (Virginia) recording more than double the number of distracted riding fatalities from 2016 to 2017.
An aging riding population
Riders over the age of 40 now comprise the greatest share of motorcyclist fatalities nationwide, a shift from a previous overrepresentation of younger riders in fatal crashes. The average age of motorcyclists killed nationally in 2016 was 43 years old, and one third of states reported that the majority of their 2017 motorcyclist crashes involved older riders.
States are using both national and statewide data to find the right mix of rider education, enforcement and laws to decrease deaths and injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes.
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Source: Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Report on Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State and Motorcycle Safety page and Motorcyclists Helmet Laws page