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Decline in Maryland fatal motorcycle accidents

With the appearance of 100,000 motorcycles with the Rolling Thunder tribute to veterans over the long Memorial weekend, it's a good time to discuss bike safety numbers.

An annual report released last week by the Governors Highway Safety Association said the number of motorcycle riders killed in crashes has remained about the same over the last two years. Overall traffic fatalities have gone down, but not for bikers. Thankfully, Maryland had 13 fewer fatal motorcycle accidents in 2011 than in 2010. Unfortunately, our neighbors in Virginia and D.C. saw slight increases last year. Nationwide, about 4,500 motorcyclists were killed in crashes. The fatality rate hit a record in 2008 of 5,290. The number of total bikers injured in accidents is more than double that.

With high gas prices, many people are using two-wheel transportation and new bike registration is increasing. Nice weather means a longer riding season, which also contributes to the increase in accident rates. The GHSA says motorcycle fatalities come down to three things: alcohol, speed and helmets.

In 2010, 28 percent of victims were riding drunk and 35 percent died while speeding. While helmet laws vary from state to state, Maryland, Virginia and D.C. require all riders to wear a helmet. Three states require no helmets whatsoever, and the rest differentiate between the age and experience of riders. The GHSA says hundreds of people would survive crashes if they wear a helmet.

The GHSA credits advances in vehicle safety measures for the over decrease in traffic fatalities including side air bags, vehicle stabilization and increased seatbelt use.

Source: washingtonpost.com, "As crash deaths continue to decline the number of motorcycle fatalities have not," Ashley Halsey III, May 21, 2012

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