The Governors Highway Safety Administration has released preliminary data stating that U.S. motorcycle fatalities are predicted to decrease in 2013. This is only the second time since 1997 such a prediction has occurred. The latest Spotlight on Highway Safety report also notes that despite the probable 7% decrease in rider deaths, motorcyclist safety has not improved in fifteen years.
Dr. James Hedlund of Highway Safety North, a former senior official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), authored a report with data collected from information provided by all 50 states and the district of Columbia. The information included motorcycle fatality counts for the first nine months of 2013, along with possible reasons the number either increased or decreased from the first nine months of the year prior.
Ultimately, Dr. Hedlund projects the final motorcyclist fatality total for 2013 will be 4,610 – approximately 7% less than the 4,957 recorded in 2012 and nearly identical to the 4,612 motorcyclist deaths in 2011. This means motorcyclist deaths would have declined more than the total traffic fatality decrease of 3.7% for the first nine months of 2013 estimated by NHTSA.
Weather, according to the report, was the predominate factor to explain the drop in motorcyclist fatalities from 2012 to 2013. The first six months of 2012 were unusually warm and dry across the nation, prompting an uptick in ridership. The weather in the first nine months of 2013, however, was cooler and wetter, similar to 2011, when fatalities dropped in many states.