- In case you have not seen this it makes for some interesting reading. If it
follows any other pattern we will all have ABS sometime in the future.
Motorcycle Deaths Rise Again
By JONATHAN D. SALANT
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More motorcycle riders are dying in crashes, and
federal officials want to know why.
A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study released
Tuesday shows that 2,472 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in 1999,
the largest number since 1991. It was also the second straight year that the
number of fatalities rose over the year before.
The number of deaths rose 17 percent between 1997 and 1999.
The increase mirrors a rise in the number of motorcycles on the road.
There were 4.2 million motorcycles registered in 1999, up 9 percent from 3.8
million in 1997.
"Unfortunately, the increase in motorcycle popularity has been followed
by a rise in fatalities,'' Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said.
Motorcyclists are much more likely to die in a crash than the driver of
a passenger car. For every 100 million miles traveled, 1.9 automobile drivers
died in an accident compared with 36.5 motorcyclists.
Officials are stumped as to the reason for the increase in deaths.
NHTSA, along with state officials, motorcycle manufacturers and others, are
trying to find out why deaths are rising again.
The federal agency has proposed a safety program that would include
letting the states, who license motorcyclists, learn of the best training
programs; pushing anew for motorcyclists to wear helmets and to not drink and
drive; teaching car and truck drivers to be more aware of motorcyclists; and
studying new braking systems for motorcycles.
The NHTSA study found that 41 percent of motorcyclists in fatal crashes
were speeding, that almost half who died in single vehicle crashes were
driving under the influence of alcohol, and that almost one in six motorcycle
riders were driving without a valid license.
Most of the increases in deaths are among riders 40 and older, rising
from 699 in 1997 to 968 in 1999. But the greatest number of fatalities remain
among riders between the ages of 20 and 29, growing from 694 in 1997 to 758
At the same time, older motorcyclists had a lower fatality rate than
those aged 20 to 39.
Also, almost 52 percent of fatal accidents occurred on rural roads in
1999, as compared with 47 percent on urban streets. In 1990, 55 percent of
fatal motorcycle crashes took place in urban areas, compared with 45 percent
in rural areas.
Motorcycles are getting bigger. In 1990, the average size of a
motorcycle in a fatal crash was 769 cubic centimeters. In 1999, the average
size was 922 cc.
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