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More motorcycles means more tragedies

Data show increase in staatewide biker fatalities

One way car and truck drivers can be safe around motorcycles is to simply exercise more caution and never tailgate a motorcycle. Submitted photo.

One way car and truck drivers can be safe around motorcycles is to simply exercise more caution and never tailgate a motorcycle. Submitted photo.

— “Look twice, save a life.”

That’s the message to car and truck drivers from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and Ben Zadrozny, the foundation’s safety program manager forNew York.

According to Zadrozny, enrollment for basic motorcycle rider courses is up and there will likely be more motorcycles on the road this summer than every before. He encouraged all motorists to look for motorcycles and to “take that second look.”

Motorcycle registrations are on the rise in New York State tothe tune of a 13 percent increase over the past five years, according to the state Department of Transportation. Census data shows the state is home to over 345,000 registered motorcycles as of 2009. At that time, there were nearly 7.9 million motorcycles registered nationally.

With more motorcycles on the road, there have actually been fewer accidents on a national level. In 2009 there were 4,465 motorcycle traffic fatalities in the country. Data from 2010 suggests a decrease of around 2 percent, although the final tallies have not yet been finalized.

In New York, however, the data show an increase. In 2010, the most recent year hard figures were available, there were 160 motorcycle fatalities in the state, an increase of 24 deaths when compared to the previous year. That is still fewer deaths per capita than in a state like Texas, where 311 fatalities were recorded in 2010, but in that state the death rate trended downward, not up.

Who’s to blame?

When accidents and fatalities involving motorcyclists do happen,it’s hard to say who is at fault.

“We frequently hear motorcyclists blame drivers for crashes and we frequently hear drivers blame motorcyclists for crashes, but in truth we find a very even split in terms of who’s a primary contributing factor to that crash,” said Dan Montimurro, the New York State Department of Transportation’s Motorcycle Safety Program coordinator.

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