Motorcycle Safety Program Image

INTRODUCTION

RECENT TRENDS

NHTSA'S KNOWLEDGE BASE

NHTSA'S MOTORCYCLE
SAFETY PROGRAM

CRASH PREVENTION

INJURY MITIGATION

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

CONCLUSION

REFERENCE

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    I. INTRODUCTION [1]

    Despite significant gains since the enactment of Federal motor vehicle and highway safety legislation in the mid 1960's, the annual toll of traffic crashes remains tragically high. In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and General Estimates System (GES) revealed that approximately 42,116 people were killed and another 3.03 million were injured on our Nation's roadways. Traffic crashes continue to account for 95 percent of all transportation fatalities and 99 percent of injuries, and represent the leading cause of death for individuals ages 4 through 33. The large number of crashes has placed a considerable burden on our Nation's health care system affecting the economy reaching $230.6 billion a year, or an average of $820 for every person living in the United States. [2]

    Motorcycle Fatalities by Year Recent data indicate that deaths and injuries attributable to motorcycle crashes are becoming a larger portion of this grave public health problem. Motorcycle crash-related fatalities have been increasing since 1997, while injuries have been increasing since 1999. More than 100,000 motorcyclists have died in traffic crashes since the enactment of the Highway Safety Act and the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966. Like other road users who are urged to protect themselves from injury or death by wearing safety belts, driving unimpaired, and observing traffic rules, many motorcycle deaths could be prevented if motorcyclists would take responsibility for ensuring they have done everything possible to make the ride safe by taking operator training, wearing protective gear, and riding sober.

    The effects of a crash involving a motorcycle can often be devastating. While 20 percent of passenger vehicle crashes result in injury or death, an astounding 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death. According to NHTSA's data, while total traffic deaths increased by four tenths of a percent in 2001, motorcycle deaths were up by 10 percent, compared to 2000. Motorcyclist fatalities have increased each year since reaching an historic low of 2,116 fatalities in 1997. In 2001, 3,181 motorcyclists were killed, an increase of over 50 percent between 1997 and 2001. Without this substantial increase in motorcyclist fatalities between 1997 and 2001, overall highway fatalities would have experienced a marked reduction of about 2.5 percent over this same time period, see Table 1.

 

Table 1.  Total Fatalities vs. Motorcyclist Fatalities By Year, 1997-2001

Fatalities 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Total 42,013 41,501 41,717 41,945 42,116
Change --- -512 +216 +228 +171
Motorcyclists 2,116 2,294 2,483 2,897 3,181
Change --- +178 +189 +414 +284
Motorcycle Percent of All Fatalities 5.0 5.5 6.0 6.9 7.6
Source: NHTSA, NCSA: FARS
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