Highways Safer Except for Motorcyclists
Despite a great deal of room for improvement, our roads and highways have become significantly safer over the past decade -- just as long as you are not on a motorcycle. The number of annual total vehicle fatalities trended downward from 41,501 fatalities in 1998 to 37,261 fatalities in 2008, an 11% decrease. During this same ten-year period, the country's population increased 11% from 270 million to 304 million. Expressed on a per mile basis, the overall fatality rate decreased from 1.58 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in 1998 to an historic low of 1.25 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in 2008. These statistics make the fatality rates for motorcyclists all the more surprising and disturbing. Total annual motorcyclist fatalities increased from 2,294 in 1998 to 5,290 in 2008, a 231% increase. While partially explained by increased population and ridership, the fatality rate on a per-mile basis still went up significantly from 22.3 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in 1998 to 36.6 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles in 2008, a 64% increase. As also apparent from these statistics, you are 29 times more likely to die per vehicle mile on a motorcycle than in a car or truck. There are varied causes for these adverse motorcycle statistics, including other drivers failing to "see" motorcycles, but the trends and overall results are not good.