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Trooper Kendra Wilson
Public Affairs Officer
Kentucky State Police
Post 12, Frankfort
(502) 227-2221
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Motorcycle Fatalities and Injuries on the Increase

Date of News Release: 06/26/2006

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Statistics maintained by the Kentucky State Police prove that deaths and injuries resulting from motorcycle collisions are steadily increasing.

In 2000, there were 1,157 motorcycle collisions in the state that resulted in 44 deaths and 1,049 injuries. By 2005, increased to 1,822 motorcycle collisions resulting in 75 fatalities and 1,493 injuries.

As of June 23 of this year, there have already been 713 motorcycle collisions in Kentucky, resulting in 40 fatalities and 591 injuries. At this rate, the state will, unfortunately. see a continuation of the trend of increasing numbers of injury and mortality due to motorcycle collisions.

The beginning of summer is a good time to look at safe motorcycle riding practices and factors.

While motorcycle fatalities are up for all age groups, motorcyclists 40 and older account for an alarming number of motorcycle fatalities. In the last 10 years, motorcycle fatalities have increased nearly 250 percent in the 40-and-older age group, and more than 350 percent in the 50-and-older age group.

Part of the reason for this increase in these "baby boomer" fatalities is the demographic shift of motorcycle riders and the increasing horsepower of the bikes they're riding. Two decades ago, the rider who pulled up next to you was probably about 24 years old and riding a small dirtbike or dual-purpose bike. Now, that rider is more likely to be about 40 years old, and riding a larger, more powerful cycle. In fact, research shows that in the last 10 years, there has been a decline in the purchase of motorcycles with under 500-cc engines.

However, there has been a 60 percent increase in the purchase of 501-cc to 1,000-cc motorcycles, and more than a 125 percent increase in the purchase of bikes with 1,001- to 1,500-cc engines. And it's the older riders who are buying the majority of the larger bikes.

Other contributing crash factors can include inexperience. Many older motorcyclists are returning to riding after years away from the sport, but they're relying on the skill sets they had when they were 20 years old instead of taking a motorcycle safety refresher course. Older riders' eyesight, hearing and reflexes have also changed and these changes can have a direct impact on motorcyclists' riding ability.

Increasing age also brings with it a greater degree of fragility so that in any given crash, an older motorcyclist may suffer more-severe injuries than a younger motorcyclist might, and these injuries usually take longer to recover from.

Alcohol also plays a huge role in fatal crashes, and research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that many older riders involved in crashes are more likely to have been drinking. In fact, the percentage of riders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or above was highest for fatally injured operators between the age of 35 and 39 (39%), followed by age 40 to 44 (38%) and age 45 to 49 (34%).

Motorcycle riding requires a cyclist's complete concentration and special skills. Even a small amount of alcohol or drugs can compromise riding ability and contribute to a crash.

There are a variety of proven countermeasures that motorcyclists of all ages can use to increase their cycling safety. Always wearing a helmet. During the July 4 holiday period last year, three of the four motorcycle victims in Kentucky were not wearing helmets. Also be sure to wear the proper motorcycle gear, check your equipment before riding, avoid alcohol and get some training.

Safety and education go hand-in-hand when it comes to motorcycles and sharing the road.

Significant increases in crash-related fatalities among older riders Larger bikes and inexperience are factors.

Kentucky Statewide Data on Motorcycle Collisons, Injuries and Fatalitites
Year Collisions Injuries Fatalities
2000 1,157 1,049 44
2001 1,320 1,167 63
2002 1,343 1,236 44
2003 1,497 1,298 53
2004 1,610 1,419 66
2005 1,822 1,493 75

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