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GHSA News Release

June 18, 2008

Contact: Jonathan Adkins

New Report Examines Alarming Increase in Motorcycle Rider Deaths

Explosion in motorcycle sales, training shortfalls, licensing issues, decline in helmet use are key issues

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Friday marks the official start of summer, and millions of Americans will hit the roads to head to their summer vacations. Unfortunately, for too many motorcyclists, this may also mark the beginning of another deadly summer. The Governors Highway Safety Association’s (GHSA) new report, Survey of the States: Motorcycle Safety Programs, examines the dramatic increase in motorcycle rider deaths and looks at programs states have undertaken to keep motorcyclists safe.

In the report, Survey of the States: Motorcycle Safety Programs, GHSA notes that motorcycle fatalities in 2006 increased for the ninth straight year—more than doubling from 2,110 in 1997 to 4,810 in 2006. In fact, GHSA’s analysis of federal data shows that motorcycle fatalities increased in 27 states and Puerto Rico between 2005 and 2006. In 2006, 67 percent of all motorcycle fatalities occurred in 15 states. Also noteworthy is the fact that in 2004, 2005 and 2006 nearly one third of all fatalities occurred in California, Texas and Florida alone.

In 2007, GHSA asked state highway safety agencies to complete a survey detailing motorcycle safety activities designed to mitigate or reverse the annual increase in motorcycle crashes. Fifty states plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico completed surveys. The report found that:

According to GHSA Chairman Christopher J. Murphy, “This report is the most complete effort to date that examines how states are dealing with the problem of motorcycle safety. Clearly, more work must be done.” Murphy adds that the timing of the report is key given that Congress will be soon be reauthorizing surface transportation programs, including those funding motorcycle safety. “We know that we need more funding and also greater flexibility with those funds to promote countermeasures that clearly work, such as helmet use.”

Murphy also says this report serves as a reminder to share the road, particularly as we start the summer driving season. “While the large majority of motorcycle crashes are single vehicle, other vehicles are a factor in 40 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes, so this is an issue that impacts us all.” Tips for sharing the road with motorcycles are available online.

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Survey of the States: Motorcycle Safety Programs is available online at State-by-state responses are included. A limited number of print copies are available by e-mailing Jonathan Adkins (

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy and enhance program management. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit