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Fewer Fatal Motorcycle Accidents in U.S. During 2010, but in Washington state that's not the case.

For the second year in a row U.S. Motorcycle Accidents have decreased according to a recent report from Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Fatal motorcycle accidents were 2% less in 2010 than in 2009. This is a good trend since from 1997 to 2008 motorcycle accident deaths were increasing each year.

The local trend is not so good for Washington motorcycle accidents.  Records for the first nine months of 2010 indicate a 3% increase in Fatal Washington Motorcycle Accidents.  Washington motorcycle accident deaths went from 63 to 65 during the first nine months of 2010. While Oregon and Idaho have seen 27% and 24% reductions respectively in the same time. How do they explain this?  

GHSA Vice Chairman Troy Costales credits his home state of Oregon's progress to a strong training program and increased penanlties for riders who don't have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license. Costales states, "Oregon has worked successfully with our motorcycle clubs, who are effective advocates for riding safe and sober."

The rosy nationwide picture may not last when the entire 12 months of 2010 is finally tallied. There are a few factors that could reverse the trend:
  • The 2% decrease was focused on the first early months of the year when there are fewer riders on the road.
  • During the third quarter, Summer, the fatality rate actually increased 3%.
  • Gas prices continued to rise, as did motorcycle use thus increasing the risk exposure to riders.
  • Helmet use dropped 7% in 2010.
The increase in fatalities toward the end of 2010 is a clear red flag. As the ecomony gains strength and gas prices continue to rise more motorycle use can be expected. This gives the potential for more tragedy on the roads.

The report makes several suggestions to increase safety and reduce the Motorcyle Accident Fatality rate:

  1. Increase Helmet Use. Helmets reduce the risk of death in a Motorcycle accident by 37%.
  2. Reduce Drunk Riding.  Alcohol and motorycle do not mix, increased DUI police patrols.
  3. Reduce Speeding.  35% of riders killed in accidents were sppeding, and half of those did not involve another vehicle.
  4. Safety Training For All.  Providing convenient and manditory motorcycle training classes with go a long way to reducing motorcycle accidents.

All Washington motorycle riders need to be smart and look out for themselves. Ride so you don't put yourself in a dangerous position, stay out of vehicle blind spots, don't make unpredictable moves, don't speed, ride sober, and use turn or arm signals. Other drivers also need to be aware, especially as the sun starts to appear in the Northwest, that motorcycles are on the road. Take responsibility for yourself and make our roads safer by your actions.