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Motorcycle deaths on the rise

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

Motorcycle deaths are on the rise, and are now approaching an all-time high. Using data from the first nine months of 2012, the latest report from the Governors Highway Safety Association projects that motorcycle deaths will increase 9 percent in 2012 to more than 5,000 fatalities. The GHSA, which represents state and territory car-safety agencies, has used this method of projecting deaths for the past three years and found its projections mirrored final results.

The increase in motorcycle fatalities marks the 14th of the last 15 years that motorcycle deaths have increased. The GHSA said that, when comparing the first nine months of 2012 to the same period in 2011, 34 states saw increases in motorcycle deaths, while 16 states declined, and the District of Columbia remained the same. Some states that experienced increases in fatalities saw substantial jumps, including a 32 percent rise in Oregon and a 29 percent increase in Indiana.

Part of the increase in fatalities is related to an increasing number of motorcyclists on the road. However, the GHSA also says there is a trend toward repealing helmet laws, despite the fact that they are the only safety strategy with a five-star effectiveness rating by the federal government. The study noted that 19 states required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets in 2012, down from 26 in 1997.

If you're a motorcycle rider, do you think you need a helmet? If you live in a state that doesn't require it, do you wear one?

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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June 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I peeled someone off the pavement in the late 60's and will never forget, yes I still ride to this day. Score: Cages 10,000+, bikes 0, ya never win on a bike never! So keep your cool. Ride defensive, wear a legal helmet and to add to it wear leather or other body protection. If it's hot they have adaptable ride wear get your tan on the beach. That guy in the 60's.....left skin for 50 yards on the pavement he was wearing a T shirt only. Ride safe brothers.

June 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Years ago I was riding in Delaware, helmets not required, but I always wore my full face helmet. Thank God I did. A teenager turned across my lane and I had nowhere to go. I hit him broadside and was launched over the vehicle landing with my arms and hands out and on my Face and top of my head. If it wasn't for my full face helmet I wouldn't have a face or probably be dead. I lost my best friend who was only doing about 35 mph and hit sand on the road not wearing a helmet, hit the curb with his forehead. Another friend was wearing the beanie type helmet and crashed. He is now a vegetable. Your business, but I wear mine. Ride Safely, idiots out there don't see us!

harley hog
June 23, 2013 at 12:52 am

I ride in an optional state, but I wear one as an agreement to the wife. Traffic is crazy and if an accident happens, no matter the fault, you lose. I like to believe I give myself a chance, but that's my choice. Cages are not looking for you, so Live to ride and ride to live my friends.

June 22, 2013 at 10:15 pm

I just love all the opinions and comments, especially from those who don’t ride. Sort of like the child experts that have never raised a child! It’s a personal choice, and it should be. That simple.

June 22, 2013 at 8:43 pm

more bikes on the road = more deaths its simple math,,,

Skip Cooper
June 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I have been riding for 47 years and always have worn a helmet even when the state that I live in did not require it. I think the refusal to wear a helmet is dumb to say the least. Having said that I think one of the big factors in the rise of motorcycle deaths is the incredible speed potential of the newer motorcycles and the inexperienced riders that ride them. There should be a tiered system of license for motorcycles so that young inexperienced riders are not allowed on a motorcycle capable of 175 mph!

June 22, 2013 at 8:13 pm

You know when people stop putting on makeup,eating food, texting, and all the other things they do beside driving there are going to be more deaths to all the other drivers that are doing what they are suppose to be doing like driving, but the person on the motorcycle is going to get the raw deal of the careless. So it's not the helmet laws it the stupid people in the cars.

Ron Peterson
June 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I am extremely surprised that the study did not address distracted drivers,i.e., cell phones, gps screens, eating &/or drinking and driving. No wonder there is an increase in the number of accidents. Riding my motorcycle scares the living fool out of me with all of the distracted drivers out there.

June 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I rode motorcycles for many years. Always wore a full-face helmet. Motorcycle helmets are to protect your brains. If you don't have any, I guess you don't need one.

Chuck Leach
June 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Folks, I've only been riding a few years myself, In PA, where helmets are optional. Wearing one two years ago probably saved my life in an accident where I was thrown up in the air and landed on my head and shoulder. Shoulder fractured and a big gouge in the helmet. Don't know about you, but I'll wear mine.