A new report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) estimates a 5.6 percent decrease in the number of people killed on motorcycles in 2017.
Yet, despite the reduction in fatalities, motorcyclists remain significantly overrepresented as a proportion of all traffic deaths. For every mile traveled motorcyclist fatalities occur 28 times more often than passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
“Motorcyclist fatality numbers have fluctuated from year to year over the past decade, so while we are cautiously optimistic about this projection, we really need to see a sustained trend downward toward eventually eliminating motorcyclist fatalities altogether,” said report author Tara Casanova Powell, an independent researcher previously affiliated with Preusser Research Group and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation.
Powell notes that the particularly strong 2017 hurricane season may have led to fewer motorcycle riders on the roadways, pointing out that “clearly, we can’t – and shouldn’t – rely on bad weather to prevent motorcyclist deaths.”
The report estimates that 4,990 people were killed on motorcycles in 2017, based on preliminary data provided by State Highway Safety Offices. All 50 states and the District of Columbia contributed their preliminary motorcyclist fatality counts for the 2017 calendar year. Compared with 2016, motorcyclist fatalities decreased in 30 states, remained the same in two states, and increased in 18 states.
A quarter of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2016 had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over the legal limit, the highest percentage of any other vehicle type. The state data signals that this trend continued in 2017.
Several states reported an increase in distracted riding fatalities in recent years, with one state (Virginia) recording more than double the number of distracted riding fatalities from 2016 to 2017.
Full GHSA report: Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State: 2017 Preliminary Data