Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Motorcycle deaths rising again, more than overall highway fatalities; no driving test in some states

As summer vacation time heats up, roads begin to become more crowded with motorcycles. U.S. highway deaths rose 5.6 percent last year, but motorcycle fatalities rose 9 percent, and rose in 34 states, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. (GHSA graphics)

The highest number of fatalities was in Texas, with 358. That was followed by California (318 fatalities), Florida (287), Pennsylvania (184), New York and Ohio with 150, North Carolina (141), Illinois (132), Indiana (130), Michigan (120), Tennessee (114), Arizona (107) and Wisconsin (101). (Read more)

In South Dakota, where first-time motorcycle riders only need to take a written test to get a license, there have been more than 5,000 motorcycle accidents, and 230 motorcycle fatalities since 2002. The state Safety Council hopes those numbers will decrease if more people take the statewide Motorcycle Rider Education Program in cooperation with the state Department of Public Safety's Office of Highway Safety, Andrea Cook reports for the Rapid City Journal. The same course is offered in Wyoming, which also does not require a driving test for a motorcycle license. (Journal photo by Kristina Barker: Jeanette Lawhorn of Chadron, Neb., starts up a bike during the beginner riding class in Rapid City)

The course, which began in 1977, has trained more than 33,073 beginning motorcycle riders, or 41 percent of the 80,410 licensed motorcyclists in South Dakota, Cook reports. The course seems to help. Last year 25 people died in South Dakota in motorcycle accidents, but Vince Pfeifle, a Safety Council rider-coach, said none of those riders were state residents. (Read more)

Some states are already seeing an increase in deaths this year. Twenty-six riders have died in Minnesota, compared to 18 at the same time last year, according to KBJR 6 in Northland. There have been five deaths in July, including three on July 4. There were 10 fatalities in June. State Department of Public Safety officials said there was many of the same contributing factors as last year, "including motorcyclist’s error and failure to yield the right-of-way." (Read more)

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