motorcycle infographic

Photo: Governors Highway Safety Association

GHSA: Rise in motorcyclist deaths a ‘stark reminder’

May 24, 2016

Washington – Motorcyclist deaths nationwide jumped an estimated 10 percent in 2015 after two years of decline, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

Preliminary data from GHSA shows 5,010 motorcyclists died in 2015 – the first time since 2008 that the death toll was higher than 5,000. Deaths increased in 31 states.

“These sobering findings provide a stark reminder of how susceptible motorcyclists are to fatal and life-threatening injuries,” report co-author Richard Retting said in a press release. “The risk of motorcycle crashes and fatalities is compounded by factors such as alcohol and drug use, increased speed limits, the repeal of state helmet laws, and a record number of vehicles on U.S. roads. Concerted efforts are needed to reduce this tragic loss of life.”

GHSA notes that other factors such as weather and fuel costs may play a role in motorcycle fatalities, but claims reinstating state laws that require all motorcyclists to use helmets likely would have the greatest impact on reducing the number of deaths. Although 19 states and the District of Columbia require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, 28 states limit required use to motorcyclists younger than 18 or 21, and three states have no helmet requirements.

GHSA provides the following guidance for motorcyclists:

  • Wear a helmet that complies with DOT standards.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing so other drivers can see you.
  • Never ride impaired by alcohol or drugs.
  • Follow speed limits.
  • When buying a motorcycle, choose a model with antilock brakes.

The report is based on data provided by state highway safety offices.