Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®: Accident statistics for 2012
In a recently released report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, it appears that motorcycle fatalities and accidents are on the rise. The Association points to a number of reasons but mainly attributes the rise to changes in mandatory helmet laws in some states.
The Governors Highway Safety Association is a group that represents the states and monitors highway safety while making recommendations to increase that safety. Addressing everything from impaired driving, speeding, and occupant protection, the Association attempts to influence driving laws, increase safety and promote best practices.
Delving deeper into the Association’s reports, one can readily see that motorcycle fatalities are indeed on the rise. Thirty four states saw an increase in fatalities with the state of Oregon seeing a statistical rise of 32% and Indiana, a 29% increase. Taking into account that the amount of registered riders is also on the rise, the logical conclusion is that more riders will result in more accidents. In the state of Pennsylvania alone, the amount of registered riders jumped from 265,054 to 409,017 between 2011 and 2012. That’s an increase of 54% over the two years!
A much longer riding season in 2012 is another contributing factor barely mentioned in the report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association. In fact, 2012 set records for average temperatures in 48 of the 50 states. Along with the fact that the warmer temperatures occurred much earlier than they have this year, one can come to the conclusion that the 2012 riding season was a longer than normal which in turn, encouraged riders to get out on their bikes earlier and more often. More time on the road will directly correlate to the increase in fatalities—a longer season provides increased chances of accidents. California can be taken as an example to support this hypothesis as the riding season there is typically stable and fatalities dropped slightly, from 321 deaths in 2011 to 318 in 2012.
Ultimately though, the helmet debate will undoubtedly continue in earnest as the report strongly suggests that helmet usage is the large and looming issue when it comes to motorcycle fatalities but is it? Now only 19 states have mandatory helmet laws versus the 1997 level of 26. In fact, between 2010 and 2012, in most states with only partial helmet laws, fatally injured riders were five times more likely to have ridden without the protection of a helmet as those in states with universal helmet laws. But is that due to helmet law or the large increase in riders and the longer then usual riding season?
The debate rages on!