WASHINGTON - Motorcycle deaths are increasing dramatically, up 9 percent, nationally. But not in the Washington metropolitan area, according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
"Each year motorcycle deaths go up, and it's alarming," says Jonathan Adkins, spokesperson for the association, a nonprofit representing highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
"Motorcycle deaths were up in 2012, and we're projecting they were up by 9 percent. So it was significant," says Adkins.
With an improved economy in 2012, Adkins says researchers believe more people were able to afford to buy and operate motorcycles.
"Gas prices were also pretty high, so people were thinking 'hey, this is an appealing way to get around'."
Adkins says the number of motorcycle deaths has increased nationally 14 of the past 15 years. And more than 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2012, according to the association's preliminary findings. However, local motorcycle riders fared better, according to the report.
"In Virginia, the deaths we're projecting for the first nine months were down about 6 percent, which is good news," says Adkins.
However, in Maryland, deaths are up about 3 percent.
"It's a small number, but it's obviously significant anytime fatalities are going up," says Adkins.
The number of motorcyclist deaths in D.C. remained approximately the same.
In its report, the safety group recommends states address six issues: increase helmet use, reduce alcohol impairment, reduce speeding, provide cycle operator training, ensure licensing and encourage car and truck drivers to share the road with motorcycles.
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