May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in New Jersey and across the country. As the weather warms, there is no better time to focus on motorcycle accident prevention.
Just in time for the safety push, a new report projects that final statistics will show that motorcycle fatalities fell an estimated 7 percent across the U.S. in 2013. However, the report notes that improved safety may not necessarily be responsible for the projected decline.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), when final statistics come out, they will show that 2013 was only the second year since 1997 that motorcycle deaths actually declined in the U.S.
The report, based on preliminary data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, projects that 4,610 motorcycle fatalities occurred nationwide in 2013, compared with 4,957 in 2012 and 4,612 in 2011.
Despite Fewer Deaths, Report Shows Need for Improvement
Fewer motorcycle accident fatalities is certainly good news. However, those numbers do not tell the whole story.
For instance, the GHSA report cites weather as a major contributing factor to the decrease in 2013 motorcycle fatalities. In 2012, the first six months were “unusually warm and dry” and led motorcyclists to hit the road earlier and in greater numbers than in 2013.
When submitting their data to the GHSA, several states explicitly noted weather as a potential factor in decreased 2013 accidents, saying the season was “very short” or “particularly rainy” and wintry.
In New Jersey, motorcycle fatalities in the first six months of 2013 were at 20. This was much less than the 43 in the first six months of 2012. This 53 percent drop is certainly commendable, but the weather could have played a role as well. Superstorm Sandy certainly affected the normally busy summer season and, no doubt, led to fewer motorcycle accidents in 2013.
If the riding season of 2014 stays warm and dry, we could see an uptick in fatal accidents if all safety measures remain unchanged.
Motorcycle Safety Awareness Efforts in New Jersey
While May should not be the only time we focus on motorcycle safety awareness, it is the perfect month, as the weather is warming and riders are dusting off their bikes.
The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ) recently announced it was joining forces with the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (NJDHTS) to make the state safer for motorcyclists.
BIANJ cites NJDHTS statistics that indicate that 741 motorcyclists were killed in accidents in New Jersey between 2002 and 2011, and 2,500 motorcycle crashes happen annually.
As “driver inattention” is one of the most frequently cited causes of motorcycle crashes, according to BIANJ, the responsibility to improve motorcycle safety in New Jersey lies with motorcycle riders and car drivers alike.
BIANJ has launched two initiatives to this end — one targeting drivers, and the other focusing on motorcyclists. No matter which category you fall under, you have the opportunity to help make our roads safer and win a prize in the process. The campaigns are:
- Share the Road Pledge – Inviting drivers to pledge to do their part in protecting cyclists on the road. Those who take the pledge are entered to win a $50 gas card.
- Ride2Win Pledge – Targeting motorcyclists. Those who pledge to be safer riders are entered to win a $250 cash reimbursement prize to be used on protective riding gear.
As these campaigns remind us, we all have a responsibility to be attentive to motorcycle safety. Do your part by being a responsible motorist and reducing the number of motorcycle fatalities on our roads.