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Motorcycle deaths down, but experts still concerned

Recent reports showing decreases in motorcycle deaths may be misleading. During the first nine months of last year, wrongful deaths due to motorcycle accidents dropped 2 percent, but the recent report by state transportation officials reflecting the lower fatalities may only signal a blip in the safety trend and not a lasting improvement in safety. From January to September 2010, there were 80 fewer motorcycle wrongful deaths than in the same period from the previous year. However, fatalities have started to climb again during the last three of those nine months reviewed, which has safety advocates worried. A report author – who also acts as a safety consultant – stated “[t]he drop is all in the front half of the year. It looks very much as if we’ve hit bottom and may be starting back up again.”

During the first three months of 2010, motorcycle fatalities were down 25 percent and still down 1 percent in the next three months after that. Then, the motorcycle fatalities went up 3 percent in the third quarter of the year. Since the late 1990s, annual motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled, peaking only three years ago at 4,312 motorcycle deaths. The motorcycle deaths plunged sixteen percent in 2009, correlating with the flailing economy. The cause of the drop in motorcycle deaths is a matter of debate. A spokesperson for the safety group indicated that recreational motorcycle riding appears to have declined while the recession was at its worst and that may explain why the number of deaths went down. This spokesperson is concerned that now that the economy is showing some signs of recovery, experts are concerned that a rebound in recreational motorcycle riding will lead to more wrongful deaths. Leadership of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, however, disagrees. They say that the economy appears to have increased, not decreased, motorcycle use.

Read more about the rate of motorcycle deaths at the Southtown Star.