The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). has released the 2009 yearly traffic fatality numbers, reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). Overall (all motor vehicles), the report shows that traffic fatalities are at the lowest in this country since 1950. Motorcycle-related deaths were down 16 percent, the first drop in the past 11 years, from 5,312 in 2008 to 4,462 in 2009.
“Of course a one year drop is encouraging but can hardly be called a trend,” said Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs. “We in the motorcycling community need to continue to push for proper rider education and motorist awareness campaigns in order to establish a true trend.” Motorcycle related injuries were also down 6.3 percent from ’08 to ’09, more encouraging news.
Pinning the fall in deaths to a single source is difficult. Some will say that the economic slowdown reduced vehicle travel, but that’s just not true. The vehicle miles traveled for 2009 is slightly higher than it was in 2008, about 0.2 percent. Some can point to manufacturer-based safety solutions such anti lock brakes. However, motorcycles have very limited widespread use of such technologies, leaving safer riding and better motorist awareness of motorcycles as more plausible explanations.