A recent state-by-state survey by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. dropped by at least 2 percent in 2010. This is the second consecutive year of declines after eleven straight years of rising motorcycle fatalities.
Unlike the national trend, Pennsylvania saw a 6 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities during the first nine months of 2010. During the first three quarters of the year, Pennsylvania reported 197 motorcycle fatalities, compared to the 186 fatalities reported during the same period of 2009.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were more than 4,000 motorcycle accidents on the state’s roads in 2010. There were a total of 233 motorcyclist deaths on Pennsylvania roadways in 2010.
The Governors’ Safety Association Report noted that the 2 percent decline is somewhat encouraging. But a more dramatic decline had been expected, considering the 16 percent drop recorded the previous year.
Traffic safety analysts are concerned that the decrease in fatalities was clustered in the early months of 2010 and that national motorcyclist deaths are now rising. According to the report, motorcycle fatalities actually increased by 3 percent during the last quarter of 2010 when compared to the same period in 2009. The report also points out that increased motorcycle use and registrations due to rising fuel prices and a failing economy may be influencing the fatality rate.
In Pennsylvania, the number of registered motorcycles rose by almost 5,000 and the state’s biking community gained 10,000 new licensed riders in 2010.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett made this statement when endorsing Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month earlier this year: “It is essential for everyone to be aware of motorcycles…and recognize the importance of always staying alert and practicing safe driving techniques,” said Corbett, “By working together and respecting one another while driving and riding, we can all enjoy safer roadways.”
Those are wise words – not only during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, but all year round.