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The Governor’s Highway Safety Association just released a study compiled by Dr. James Hedlund of Highway Safety North that has some sobering statistics on the rise of motorcycle fatalities across Tennessee and the entire country.  The interesting data is buried under confusing graphs and repetitive stats, so we’ve broken out the important facts that could impact Tennessee bikers.   The number of motorcycle fatalities increased over 9% from 2011 and it has increased 14 out of the past 15 years.  While statistics were still being received when the report was released, the soft number of fatalities for 2012 for the country is 5,027 and 124 for Tennessee.

There are several factors cited by the various states for the increase including warmer and dryer weather, an improving economy, and an increase of motorcycle registrations.  We are going to look at these factors a little more closely in this article and then talk about ways to prevent motorcycle fatalities in the 2nd article.

Warmer/Dryer Weather:  There were record high temperatures recorded throughout the country in 2012, with the only exceptions on the continent being the states of Washington and Oregon.  Several states wrote notations with their data referencing the weather as being a large factor in the increase of people riding the motorcycles.  Arkansas cited “warmer/dryer year . . . more riders riding their bikes, especially to work”; Kentucky said “warmer winter months during both the beginning and end of 2012”; and Tennessee noted “warmer temperatures causing more motorcycle miles travelled”.  Anyone who rides a bike knows that riding is usually discretionary, meaning pretty weather makes you want to take the bike and rain makes you want to take the car.  The person reporting for Maryland called the weather in 2012 “Goldilocks Weather – not too hot and not too cold”.

Improving Economy:  This is a simple enough correlation, more money to spend on items other than essentials means more people purchasing motorcycles, RVs and boats.  Interestingly enough, states who reported worsening economies (California, for instance) reported a decrease in motorcycle fatalities.

Gasoline Prices:  Higher gas encourages people to look for more fuel efficient vehicles and many turn to motorcycles for commuting to and from work.

Motorcycle Registration:  More registrations mean more motorcycles and riders on the road.  Interestingly enough, many states noticed that registrations increased but that rider training did not.  That would perhaps point to a need for new driver safety courses, but we will look into that, and other factors that could reduce motorcycle fatalities, in the 2nd part of this article.

I’ve been protecting bikers who have been injured through the negligence of others for over 20 years now.  I know that most of the accidents that occur between a motorcycle and another vehicle are caused by the other vehicle – not the biker.  If you’ve been injured in a Tennessee motorcycle accident, give me a call to discuss your case or fill out the contact form on the site.  Operators are available for live chats 24 hours a day.  The important thing for you to know is that consultations are free and your rights must be protected.