The Governors Highway Safety Association released statistics on motorcycle accident related deaths for 2011 (Motorcyclist Traffic fatalities by State: 2011 Preliminary Data). The 2011 data goes through September, as the remainder of the year’s data is not yet finalized:
- 2011: 3,580 motorcycle deaths (January to September)
- 2010: 3,641 motorcycle deaths (January to September)
- 2010: 4,502 motorcycle deaths (full year)
- 2010: 65 motorcycle deaths in Maryland (January to September)
- 2011: 52 motorcycle deaths in Maryland (January to September)
- 2010: 1 motorcycle death in the District of Columbia (January to September)
- 2011: 3 motorcycle deaths in the District of Columbia (January to September)
There are some theories about why the motorcycle fatality statistics are not decreasing with the standard auto accident fatalities, which are down 1.7% in 2011. These include:
- Economy: more motorcyclists on the road to save gas/cheaper transportation
- Helmet use: there are only 19 states with mandatory helmet laws, and several are considering repealing their laws.
- Weather: several states had better weather this year, meaning more motorcycle trips, which in turn leads to more motorcycle accidents
The most important factor in preventing motorcycle deaths is helmet use. Motorcyclists in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia are required to wear helmets, but those states are in the minority. Regardless of whether use is mandated, all motorcyclists should wear helmets for their own safety.