WASHINGTON — A new study shows motorcycle fatalities in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are increasing, while the number falls in most of the country.
Nationwide, the Governors Highway Safety Association is projecting motorcyclist fatalities decreased for the second straight year in 2014, by approximately two percent.
Yet, motorcycle safety lags dramatically behind improvement in other modes of transportation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all roadway deaths have fallen nearly 25 percent in the past decade.
But motor vehicle drivers represent the bulk of these safety gains: in 2013, other motor vehicle fatalities were 28 percent lower than in 2003.
Despite the recent improvement, motorcyclists fatalities were 26 percent higher over the decade.
“Unfortunately, motorcyclist deaths are up significiantly from where they were about 10 years ago, so it’s a good news, bad news situation,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the GHSA.
Adkins said the drop in car and truck fatalities is likely due to improvements in vehicle design, increases in seat belt use, and electronic stability controls.
Locally, the motorcycle fatality numbers are worse.
“We’re a little concerned that in the Metro D.C. area, motorcycle deaths are actually up a little bit,” said Adkins.
The number of fatalities is projected to be up 14 percent in Virginia, up 4 percent in Maryland and flat in Washington, D.C.
Adkins says the biggest causes in motorcycle deaths are drunk riding by motorcyclists, and speed.
“Not only is drunk driving with a car dangerous, but if you’re impaired by alcohol or drugs, you certainly should not be getting on a motorcycle,” said Adkins
In addition, only 19 states (including Virginia and Maryland) and D.C. require all riders to wear helmets.
“In large parts of the country we have scenarios where folks are getting on their motorcyles, they may be impaired by alcohol, they’re very likely to be speeding, and they’re wearing a helmet,” he said.
The combination is often deadly for these riders.
“When they have a collision with a high-speed car or truck, it’s no surprise what happens to the motorcyclist, a lot of the time,” said Adkinds. “Unfortunately, they don’t survive or they’re severely injured.”
The report by GHSA recommends states focus on motorcyle safety programs that reduce alcohol impairment, reduce speeding, ensure motorcyclists are licensed, and encourage all drivers to share the road with cyclists.
Read the entire report, released by GHSA:
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