At a time when automobile deaths are on the decline in the United States, the number of motorcycle fatalities is skyrocketing. That sobering information has placed even greater emphasis on this year’s Motorcycle Safety Forum held in Austin, Texas, recently.
In his opening remarks to the 100 attendees, Center for Transportation Safety (CTS) Director John Mounce said motorcycle fatalities have increased for nine straight years and, for the first time, have outnumbered pedestrian deaths. “Rider fatalities now account for 11 percent of total fatalities (up from 5 percent in 1997) and dramatically affect the nation’s overall highway fatality rate,” Mounce said. “This trend is one of the greatest highway safety challenges our nation faces today.”
Over 100 people from all over Texas attended the meeting, which included safety advocates representing riders, trainers, law enforcement, engineers, educators, military, health professionals, and federal and state motorcycle safety organizations. This is the third CTS-sponsored Motorcycle Safety Forum in as many years and was organized in response to the ever-increasing fatality rate. This year’s forum was co-sponsored by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) with the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety and Brown Distributing Company as participating agencies.
The day-long forum included presentations on crash trends, rider training, share the road programs, funding and strategic planning. Associate Research Scientist Patricia Turner discussed the new TxDOT motorcycle safety public awareness campaign entitled “Look. Learn. Live,” developed by TTI. For more information about this campaign, visit the website at http://www.looklearnlive.org/
“This forum was the best attended and most successful Motorcycle Safety Forum we’ve had,” Turner said. “We are all working together, seeking ways to reverse the growing number of motorcycle fatalities.” Senior Research Scientist Quinn Brackett also spoke at the forum, presenting Countermeasures to Reduce Motorcycle Crashes in Texas.
As a result of the increase in fatalities, a Motorcycle Safety Coalition is being formed to come up with strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes. The volunteer members are planning their first meeting.