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Motorcycle accident fatality rate remains high

In recent years, the number of car accident deaths has dropped dramatically in San Diego and throughout the U.S. However, the fatal motorcycle crash rate has remained steady, and has actually increased in many places. Why is there such a disparity between motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents?

According to officials with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), an organization of state highway safety officials, the decline in auto accident deaths is largely attributed to advances in vehicle safety technology, such as air bags and electronic stability controls, that are now required in all new vehicles. Motorcycle accident fatalities have not similarly declined simply because there have been no such innovations made to bikes.

As a result, there were about 3,600 motorcycle crash deaths during the first nine months of 2011, and it is estimated that there were a total of 4,500 fatalities last year (complete statistics are not yet available). As in previous years, the GHSA is attributing the high number of fatalities to three factors: speed, intoxication and the failure to wear a helmet. To the latter cause, the GHSA claims that more than 800 deceased riders would have survived their crashes if they had been wearing helmets. Similarly, it says that 35 percent of riders killed were speeding, and 28 percent were riding drunk.

However, the fact that there are motorcycle accidents in which the bike rider was at fault does not mean that other drivers' have a continuing duty to see and drive carefully around motorcycles. It is the responsibility of all drivers to do all they can to avoid motorcycle accidents and the often-fatal results.

Source: Washington Post, "As crash deaths continue to decline the number of motorcycle fatalities have not," Ashley Halsey III, May 21, 2012

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