Despite the fact that traffic fatalities are overall declining, rates of motorcycle fatalities are on the rise in Florida and nationwide, according to a study just released by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
As reported in the Tampa Tribune, motorcycle deaths have increased in all years except for one between 1997 and 2012, compared to traffic fatalities which declined each year between 2005 and 2010.
In Florida, 287 motorcyclists died in the first nine months of 2012, giving Florida the third highest number of such crashes. Yet when considering state populations, Florida rises to the most deadly large state for motorcyclists: Nationally, there were 1.3 motorcycle fatalities per 100,000 people in the first nine months of 2012. Florida’s rate: 1.55; Texas: 1.44; and California: 0.86.
The study suggested that several factors make Florida more prone to crashes, such as warm weather and high gas prices which together could encourage more year-round motorcycle traffic.
Further, Florida law does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets. According to Jim Hedlund, a traffic safety researcher with the GHSA, said that wearing a helmet reduces the chances of getting killed by 40 percent. Nevertheless, for every mile traveled, motorcyclists have a 30 times higher risk of getting killed than car riders.
Part of this risk is due to the greater level of skill it takes to safely operate a motorcycle; and the fact that many new riders do not seek or have such training.
The GHSA hopes this study will draw attention to motorcycle safety and help guide policy strategies.