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News to know: 2012 Fatality Data


June 4, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff

sd motorcycle accident

Motorcycle deaths estimated to rise up to 9%

We’ve been on the lookout for some 2012 safety data since the beginning of the year.  The first numbers are in and it’s bad news for bikers.  According to a preliminary report from the Governors Highway Safety Administration (, motorcycle deaths increased by as much as 9% in 2012.  The report is based on data provided by all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Data for the first nine months of 2012 were extrapolated to provide an estimate of overall deaths throughout the year.

The report projects that more than 5,000 riders lost their lives last year compared to 4,612 reported in 2011.  The first quarter of the year saw an amazing 24% jump in fatalities.  GHSA attributes the sharp increase to the extended riding season in cold weather states, caused by record high temperatures.  Deaths increased by 6% in the second quarter, while the third quarter saw a decrease of 4%.  In all, 34 states showed increases in fatalities with 16 reporting decreases.  State-by-state data are available in the report.

More danger, not less

Over the years, deaths from motorcycle accidents have increased substantially, while overall traffic fatalities have fallen.  According to the GHSA report, in the 14 years from 1997 to 2011, motorcyclist fatalities more than doubled, from 2,116 to 4,612, while total traffic fatalities dropped by 23%, from 42,013 to 32,367.  Over time, driving has become safer, while riding is more dangerous. It’s worth noting, however, that preliminary data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( projects that overall vehicle traffic deaths may have increased in 2012 for the first time since 2005.


The GHSA report suggests a number of actions that can be taken to reduce motorcycle-related deaths.  Not surprisingly, the most important of these is increasing the use of helmets.  While certainly not a guarantee of safety, the GHSA states that helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries for riders (41% for passengers) in motorcycle crashes.  According to the NHTSA, 706 of the motorcyclists killed in 2010 would have lived if they had been wearing a helmet.  Other solutions suggested in the report include reducing alcohol use, reducing speeding, providing motorcycle training, ensuring riders are licensed and encouraging drivers to share the road with motorcycles.

Motorcycle maintenance is another important factor in riding safety.  We have published several blogs on this subject and will have more in the future.  As we have said many times before (and will say again and again in the future), tires are the most critical maintenance item on your machine, with brakes following a close second.  Keeping your tires in good shape and checking inflation regularly can help keep you and your bike upright and moving along.

Here are links to the reports mentioned above:

Download the GHSA 2012 Preliminary Motorcycle Fatalities Report here.

Read the news release from the GHSA announcing 2012 preliminary data here.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently published its preliminary report on overall traffic fatalities. You can read and/or download it here.

** Special Note **

Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day

On the good news side, June 17 is Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day.  Many clubs and organizations have plans for the day, so Check here and/or Google it for information on events in your area.



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