NHTSA: Rider Death Rate Climbed 7.3% in 2004

Projected 2004 data compiled by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a preliminary report projects the seventh straight year that motorcycle fatalities have increased. In 2004, 3,927 motorcyclists died, up 7.3% from 2003, when 3,661 motorcyclists were killed.
But an industry spokesman said many of the accidents are caused by drivers not motorcyclists.
“Drivers, not motorcyclists, cause more than two-thirds of car-motorcycle crashes,” said Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). “The driver either does not see the motorcyclist, or sees them too late to avoid a crash.”
Still, Buche says motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities cannot be attributed to one clear cause. For instance, the NHTSA report says 34% of motorcyclists in crashes were under the influence of alcohol. Buche says MSF supports funding of a comprehensive government motorcycle crash causation study.
“Such an analysis could enable further significant gains in motorcycle safety by providing a better understanding of which safety countermeasures have been effective and what new countermeasures may be necessary to reduce future crashes and injuries,” said Buche. “An updated in-depth crash investigation study is the only way to identify crash causation factors.”
To reduce motorcycle accidents and fatalities, the MSF urges motorists to increase awareness and asks riders to avoid drinking and riding, take an approved rider training course, and wear proper protective gear.
Since its inception in 1973, MSF has trained approximately three million motorcyclists to ride safely. The number of students trained has grown steadily including an estimated increase of almost 10% in 2004 versus 2003. There were an estimated 300,000 RiderCourse participants in 2003.
The MSF is a not-for-profit organization sponsored by BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio/Vespa, Suzuki, Victory and Yamaha.

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