Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Motorcycle Deaths on the Rise in California

There’s good news and bad news.

The good news is, traffic fatalities in California decreased by 14 percent, it even fell down up to 16 percent in Orange County.

The bad news is, motorcycle deaths rose sharply across the Golden State and in OC, motorcycle fatalities jumped as high as 44 percent.

Nationally, motorcyclist deaths have more than doubled since 1997, reaching a record of 12 percent for all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2007.

Christopher J. Murphy, the director of California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) couldn’t have said it better. "Motorcycle safety is a rapidly emerging concern" he said in a written statement.

Due to the economy and the fact that motorcycles are the most affordable form of motorized transport, it has gained in popularity among Americans. There are over four million motorcycles registered in the United States.

Motorcycles, especially these days have excessive performance capabilities such as rapid acceleration and high top speeds. This makes bikes much harder to control and authorities also say that it’s even more fatal since a lot of bikers don’t have the proper training.

The spokesman for OTS, Chris Cochran said that one-third of the motorcyclists involved in crashes statewide don't have the required Department of Motor Vehicles endorsement on their licenses.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over one-fourth of motorcycle riders (26%) involved in fatal crashes in 2007 were driving the vehicles with invalid licenses at the time of the collision.

The figures are a cause for alarm and the OTS is now encouraging motorcyclists to get trained through the California Motorcyclist Safety Program. Those who finish the training would not need to take the DMV skills test in order to qualify for the DMV motorcycle endorsement.

Also, according to the NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts of 2007, helmets are the single most effective tool in decreasing motorcycle fatalities. It estimated that helmets saved the lives of 1,784 motorcyclists in 2007. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 800 lives could have been saved.