UPDATE: GHSA data on motorcycle accident fatalities from 2015 can be found here.
While motorcycle accident fatality rates over across the country are up, Massachusetts transportation authorities have been able to report a different picture. The Governors Highway Safety Association recently published preliminary data on motorcycle accident fatalities in all 50 states, and Massachusetts was one of the few states that actually reported a decline.
During the first 9 months of last year, 9 motorcyclists were killed in motorcycle accidents, compared to 22 during the same period of time in 2010. During the first 11 months of 2011, there were 26 fatalities, compared to 54 the previous year.
However, nationwide, the motorcycle accident fatality toll for 2011 is expected to be almost the same as in 2010. There is not likely to be any decline in the numbers, and many states have actually reported an increase in their preliminary numbers.
In fact, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association believes that these fatality numbers will likely increase as the economy strengthens. As the economy bounces back, more people are likely to return to motorcycling, a practice that they had stopped because of the depressed economy. More people are also likely to purchase motorcycles, adding to an increase in the number of motorcyclists on our roads. More recreational travel typically translates into a higher fatality rate. If gas prices continue to fluctuate like they are now, it will boost motorcycling.
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, states like Massachusetts that have reported a decline in motorcycle fatality rates, are doing something right. For instance, many of these states have universal helmet laws that require motorcyclists to wear DOT-compliant helmets while riding. The GHSA also recommends that states crack down on intoxicated drivers, reduce speeding by motorcyclists, and increase awareness about the need for motorists to share the roads with motorcyclists.