It’s commonly said that there are two types of motorcyclists: those who have been in an accident and those who will be. For the past eleven years, motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise, seemingly proving that assertion to be true. But some news this week may help to change the perception that motorcyclists will inevitably be injured or killed in an accident.
That’s right, motorcycle fatalities are down! According to the state of California, over the first six months of this year 198 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. That number is down from 264 for the same time period last year. Though 198 is still a serious number of deaths, it is a decline of about 25% from 2008. Perhaps more important is that it’s reversing such a long standing trend. Fatalities have been increasing by around 10% year over year for the last eleven years. “We are very heartened by these numbers,” said director of the California Office of Traffic Safety, Christopher J. Murphy, in a statement. “If they continue, it means more motorcycle riders are getting home alive, which is what we have been working for.”
That work has been successful because not only has the trend reversed, but the number of deaths is actually the lowest it’s been since 1998. In that year there were 204 fatalities from January through June. It is also the year that the eleven year trend of increasing fatalities started.
The news of motorcycle fatalities dropping brings a sigh of relief to the Office of Traffic Safety because though automobile fatalities have been decreasing for the past three years, it seemed as though efforts to decrease motorcycle fatalities weren’t working. This news indicates that they are.
“We have really been working at encouraging riders to get training through the California Motorcyclist Safety Training Program, no matter what their age or experience,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow in a news release. “Our efforts are paying off as 2008 saw the most students trained in any year since the beginning of the CMSP. While I’m encouraged by the good news, I can’t stress enough the importance of proper training, proper licensing, and alert driving to keep riders and motorists alive on our roadways.”
Though riding a motorcycle can be more dangerous than driving a car because the rider is directly exposed to the elements and any vehicles that he or she might be involved in accident with, proper training can seriously reduce a motorcyclist’s risk of injury or death. Research has been shown that in 70 percent of motorcycle fatalities, the motorcyclist was at fault. Hopefully more California motorcyclists will take advantage of the training offered to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to protect their lives while out on the road.