Fatal motorcycle accidents are expected to have declined in 2009 for the first time in more than a decade, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
California and Florida, the two deadliest states in the nation for motorcycle riders, are expected to see declines of 29 percent and 27 percent, respectively. The economic downturn, and fewer riders, is being cited as a primary reason for the reduction in fatal crashes.
“Clearly the economy played a large role in motorcycle deaths declining in 2009,” said
Association Chairman Vernon Betkey. “Less disposable income translates into fewer leisure riders, and we suspect that the trend of inexperienced baby boomers buying bikes may have subsided.”
Authorities also believe a better focus on safety by states combating the decade-long increase in fatal accidents has contributed to the reduction.
Nationwide preliminary data projects that motorcycle fatalities will decline from 5,290 in 2008 to 4,762 last year. The 10 percent decline comes in the wake of more than a decade of dramatic increases in motorcycle accidents. As we reported last month on our South Florida Injury Lawyer blog, fatal Florida motorcycle accidents have been climbing steadily — from 432 in 2004 to 556 in 2008. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has attributed much of the increase to the skyrocketing popularity of motorcycle riding. The number of registered motorcycles nationwide has increased from fewer about 4 million a decade ago to more than 7 million today.
The organization made the following recommendations to improve safety:
-Increase Helmet Use
-Reduce Alcohol Impairment
-Provide Motorcycle Operator Training
Based on 9 months of 2009 data, the following states reported the most fatal motorcycle accidents:
North Carolina: 136
New York: 134