New Study: Motorcycle Deaths Decline Slightly But Concerns Develop

Fatalities decline overall by at least 2% but increase later in year

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2011 / — A report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that motorcycle fatalities declined in 2010 by at least 2 percent. Based upon preliminary data, GHSA projects that motorcycle fatalities declined from 4,465 in 2009 to 4,376 or less in 2010. The projection is based upon data from 50 states and the District of Columbia. The decline comes on the heels of a dramatic 16 percent drop in 2009, which followed 11 straight years of steady increases in motorcycle deaths.

The new report—the first state-by-state look at motorcycle fatalities in 2010—was completed by Dr. James Hedlund of Highway Safety North. Dr. Hedlund surveyed GHSA members, who reported fatality numbers for every state and D.C. While data are still preliminary, most states have reasonably complete fatality counts for at least the first nine months of 2010, enabling GHSA to confidently forecast that deaths will be at least 2 percent lower for the full year. Dr. Hedlund completed a similar projection for GHSA a year ago, noting a 16 percent decline in the first nine months of 2009, just one tenth of a percentage point off the final number of 15.9 percent.

GHSA is projecting declines in approximately half of the states, with notable declines in many. In Texas, for example, based upon data for the first nine months of 2010, motorcycle deaths are expected to be down 16 percent, while Oregon and Oklahoma are down 27 and 30 percent, respectively. In Oregon, GHSA Vice Chairman Troy Costales credits his state’s progress to a strong training program and a new law strengthening penalties for riders who do not have a motorcycle-specific license. Costales adds, “Oregon has worked successfully with our motorcycle clubs, who are effective advocates for riding safe and sober.”

While on the surface the national decline is good news, deeper analysis of the data reveals some areas for concern. First, 2010’s decrease of at least 2 percent is far less than 2009’s dramatic 16 percent decrease. Second, the 2010 decrease was concentrated in the early months of the year, with fatalities actually increasing by about 3 percent in the third quarter compared with the same quarter in 2009. Additionally, with the improving economy and surging gas prices, motorcycle travel is expected to increase, thus increasing exposure to risk. Finally, motorcycle helmet use dropped alarmingly from 67 percent in 2009 to 54 percent in 2010.

As part of the report, GHSA members were asked to suggest factors that may be influencing fatality changes in their state. GHSA Chairman Vernon Betkey, director of Maryland’s highway safety program, noted, “In my state, we suspect motorcycle fatalities increased 3 percent largely because of an unusual spike in crashes in one of our more rural counties. We are working closely with law enforcement agencies and highway safety partners in this area to address the issue. Additionally, Maryland has stepped up efforts in work zones to ensure motorcycle riders are as safe as possible, is placing more emphasis on training and licensure, and is increasing investment in the state’s public information and education campaign.”

GHSA’s Member in New York, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, attributes the increase in fatal motorcycle crashes in that state to a rise in motorcycle registrations and a longer and more favorable riding season. J. David Sampson, Executive Deputy Commissioner for the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles said, “There was an extended riding season in 2010 due to less rain and warmer temperatures which led to an increased exposure to crashes. In addition, motorcycle registrations continue to rise as the baby boom generation rediscovers their passion for riding a motorcycle. New York State’s Motorcycle Safety Program is working to combat the rise in fatal crashes by continuing to increase the availability of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) training sites throughout the state.”

In reviewing the national data, Chairman Betkey said, “While there is a lot of good news in this report, the increase in fatalities toward the end of year is a clear red flag. Just like with overall traffic deaths, a strengthening economy presents us with the potential for more tragedy on our roads. We are going to be very aggressive in targeting our programs where they are needed the most. Additionally, we will continue to remind all roadway users that motorcycles are a legal and legitimate way of transportation and we all need to safely share the road.”

To continue progress in reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roadways, the report urges states to focus their motorcycle safety efforts on:

  • Increasing Helmet Use: Helmets are proven to be 37 percent effective at preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and passengers.  Helmet laws are the only motorcycle safety strategy to receive a five-star effectiveness rating in NHTSA’sCountermeasures that Work guidebook for states. Alarmingly, helmet use declined dramatically in 2010, and 30 states still lack helmet laws for all riders.
  • Reduce Alcohol Impairment: States should conduct high visible drunk driving enforcement that includes motorcyclists as well as implement training efforts to help police identify drunken motorcyclists.
  • Reduce Speeding: According to the most recent data, 35 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding. More than half of speed-related fatal motorcycle crashes did not involve another vehicle.
  • Provide Motorcycle Operator Training to All Who Need or Seek It: While all states currently conduct training courses, some areas may not provide enough course openings at the locations and times convenient for riders.

 

All data in the report are preliminary, especially for the last few months of 2010. The report presents data through September. The counts are reasonably complete for 48 states and the District of Columbia that reported monthly data for this period. Arizona and California reported data for a shorter period.

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 visitwww.ghsa.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq.

 

The Motorcycle Year in Review. Looking Back at 2010

For motorcycle enthusiasts, 2010 was the year the motorcycle community lost a couple of icons and a shootout between rival motorcycle clubs in Nevada, and a jury find that a casino was libel for injuries in another shootout 8 years ago. Let’s look back at the Motorcycle Year 2010.

On New Year’s day when everyone else was sleeping off a hangover, Jeff Decker, owner of Hippodrome Studios in Springville Utah took a crane and went to Timpanogos HD in Lindon UT and repo’d a 4 ton art statue of a motorcycle racer. The dealership had been through bankruptcy and listed

who owns "Lands Speed?" The artist or the dealership

the $100,000 work of art as an asset, but Decker said it was on loan and he had the paperwork to prove it.

Los Angeles Motorcycle Police officers traded in their Harley’s for BMW’s

INDIAN Motorcycles passed stringent CARB certification which allowed the brand to begin distributing the iconic bikes in California.

Ridley Motorcycles surrendered after a seven year legal battle with Harley-Davidson and agreed to quit using the term Auto-Glide in reference to some of its motorcycles. Lehman Trikes and Harley-Davidson parted ways as the Milwaukee

Ridley agreed to quit using the term "Auto-Glide" as this motorcycle's official designation

motorcycle maker said it would start producing the tri-glide trikes in its Pennsylvania plant.

Tony Taylor, former lead singer for the heavy metal band Twister Tower Dire was killed in a motorcycle accident in Ft. Meyers Florida.

Erik Buell isn’t sitting around after having his namesake company shuttered by Harley-Davidson, Buell started a company to provide race bikes in 2010 to companies who want to compete on the track with American made motorcycles.

Orange County Choppers was presumed dead after TLC dropped the show amid a feud between the Tuetels father and son team.

Sex and the City actor Max Ryan broke his collarbone and 5 ribs when a vehicle turned in front of him in Los Angeles.

Angelle Sampey, the sexiest and winningest female in motorsports history announced her retirement.

Winningest and sexiest female drag racer retires

Daytona Beach Police busted a chop shop that had been shuttling stolen bikes between New York and Florida for 5 years.

Illinois State Senator Gary Forby helped defeat legislation (19-32) that would require children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while on a motorcycle. He told critics of the bill “I don’t want you to come tell me how to raise my kids”

In a highly criticized report, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said motorcycle training courses were not effective at reducing accidents for riders 21 years and under. In the same study, the Institute found that motorcycles equipped with anti-lock brakes were 37% less likely to be involved in an accident.

Anthony Graber became the cause célèbre of civil libertarians when he was stopped on a Maryland interstate for reckless riding and secretly recorded Maryland Air National Guard Sergeant Joseph David Uhler acting in, what many perceived as an unprofessional manner. Graber later posted the video on YouTube which so angered the State police and prosecutors office they charged him with a law that was meant to prevent citizens from wiretapping the police and courts. With outrage mounting,  A judge would later throw out the wiretapping charge.
The Tail of the Dragon was reopened several months after a rock slide shut down the popular motorcyclist destination at the start of the busy spring riding season.

Harley-Davidson shocked Wisconsin lawmakers and angered the Harley faithful when it said there was a strong possibility that the day could come when no more Harley-Davidson motorcycles would be produced in the state where the company was born. Harley demanded and eventually received significant concessions from local union members and the plants remained in the Milwaukee area.

In an attack on states where helmet use is optional, Senator Frank Lautenberg fired the opening salvo in hearings by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by repeatedly calling for a National Helmet Law, later this year the NTSB would pick up the mandatory helmet use banner saying it intends to pressure those states where helmet use is optional to enact mandatory use legislation.

Robbie Knievel went to the Twin Falls Idaho area Chamber of Commerce to request permission to attempt a jump that his famous father failed to complete. Robbie asked to be allowed to jump the Snake River Canyon on July 4th 2011, the 43rd anniversary of Evel’s failed attempt. A spokesperson for the Chamber said the request is on hold pending a decision by the County Commissioners.

Dennis Hopper Dies In 2010. Best known to bikers as Billy in the movie Easyriders

Dennis Hopper, best known to motorcyclists as “Billy” in the iconic Easy Rider movie, died at the age of 74.

The South Carolina Supreme Court tossed out a city ordinance requiring all motorcyclists wear a helmet in Myrtle Beach.

Polaris caused a stir when it announced it intended to outsource some of its ATV parts production to workers in Mexico and cut jobs in the USA. While the motorcycle side of the giant motorsports company was not affected, Polaris did say that once the Osceola Wisconsin plant closed, Victory engine manufacturing would be moved to Spirit Lake Iowa.

Sputnik Strain,  a larger than life motorcycle rights advocate from Texas died. He was 70.

The Hoka Hey challenge roared into the history books as the most celebrated and controversial endurance ride/ quasi race held in recent memory. Several participants died and organizers dodged questions for a month concerning prize money and not declaring an official winner. In the end, Will Barclay was declared the winner and told Quick Throttle magazine that he received his $500,000 prize money, but that did not end the controversy.

California legislators enacted a law making it illegal to modify the exhaust on 2011 and newer motorcycles, and Gov. Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law later in the year.

Chuck Zito pissed off Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter when he filed suit against FX claiming the network stole his idea for the fictional motorcycle club drama. Sutter called Zito a (expletive deleted) loser and a bitter juvenile gnat.

Thieves stole a pink Harley-Davidson Sportster belonging to the Susan G. Komen Foundation that was to be auctioned to raise money for breast cancer awareness. The bike was found months later in a garage, chopped and stripped ready to be sold for parts.

In a marriage that barely lasted  a year, MV Agusta was sold/returned to its former owner, the Castiglioni family. When it was all said and done, the Milwaukee company (in write downs and loans forgiven) essentially paid $136 million dollars to dump the sportbike company. This isn’t the first time that Harley-Davidson took a bath in business dealings with the Italians, in the early 60’s HD bought 50% of Aermacchi and full control in 1974, and four years later sold it back to Cagiva, owned by (who else) the Castiglioni family.

Motorcyclists across the USA were angered when it was revealed that NHTSA awarded a $70,000 grant to the Georgia State Patrol to conduct motorcycle only checkpoints at motorcycle events throughout the state.

Cycle News, America’s longest running motorcycle competition magazine shocked the industry when it pulled the plug on its print edition. The good news is that before the last epitaph was written, a buyer had stepped forth to purchase the title with plans to resurrect it.

Hells Angels and Vagos motorcycle clubs engaged in a shootout in Prescott Arizona with over 50 shots exchanged and five club members injured.

Indiana motorcyclists clogged city streets and protested after DUI charges were dropped against an on duty city police officer who was allegedly intoxicated when he crashed his cruiser into a group of motorcyclists at a light, killing one and injuring two others.

Black motorcyclists have a 50% higher incident of fatalities than their white counterparts, according to a report from John’s Hopkins University. The percent held up even after controlling for factors such as severity of the accident, the biker’s gender and hospitalization insurance status. Other factors, such as age, type of bike and/or past driving history were not considered.

Ft. Meyers police arrested a 53 year old woman for attempting to hire a hit man to kill her husband. Police say Kimberly Alters offered her husband’s Harley-Davidson as payment.

Despite being almost double what the county appraised the property, 9.2 million dollars just wasn’t enough to convince the owner of One-Eyed Jacks to sell the popular biker bar in Sturgis South Dakota. The owner backed out of the sale citing $10 million as his minimum asking price.

Two wheels safer than four. That’s the conclusion of a study by a team of researchers at John’s Hopkins. The study found that ATV riders were 50% more likely to die of their injuries than similarly injured motorcycle riders and that ATV riders were 55% more likely to be injured and admitted to intensive care units than motorcyclists.

would you mistake the wearer of this dress as a 1% MC club member?

A French designer house folded like a house of cards after receiving legal notice from The Hells Angels claiming copyright infringement. Alexandar McQueen immediately agreed to recall merchandise which resembled the clubs death head logo that had been sold in Saks Fifth Ave and Zappos.com.

A civil jury found casino company Harrah’s Inc liable for injuries suffered by patrons during the 2002 shootout between the Hells Angels and Mongols Motorcycle club.

Four members of the Saddle Tramps MC were killed in a horrific wreck on a two lane California road when a gold colored Honda Civic passed the group and forced an oncoming car to swerve off the road and back across the lane into their path. The driver of the Honda was not arrested and police have no leads.

Harley-Davidson is seeking additional concessions from its union in Kansas City and has said it may be forced to move production to York PA or Wisconsin if it doesn’t get what it needs to streamline operations.

Motorcycle Manufacturers Celebrate Veterans Day

When you think of the military you think of motorcycles.

The first American to enter Germany after the armistice of WWI was Corporal Roy Holtz of Chippewa Falls, WI, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Returning veterans from WWII looking for an adrenaline rush similar to what they experienced in the war turned to two wheels and formed the first motorcycle “clubs.”

But, even before the first World War, motorcycles were serving our nation.  In a press release Harley-Davidson says,  “Ever since the first American troops rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the Mexican Expedition in 1916, the Motor Company has enjoyed a long-standing bond with the men and women who have served our nation.”

It’s a bond that American motorcycle manufacturers recognize and continue to embrace.

This month Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles both have programs designed to show appreciation to those who defend the freedoms of our Constitution.

Harley-Davidson  is providing an opportunity for Americans to create personal messages of gratitude for active and retired personnel at www.harley-davidson.com/thankyou.  These messages will be sent on an electronic postcard featuring supermodel and motorcycle rider Marisa Miller and military themed Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  Americans are also encouraged to visit their area Harley-Davidson dealership to learn more about opportunities to honor local military heroes.

“At Harley-Davidson, we’re all about freedom, but we can’t forget that freedom comes at a price,” said Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson’s director of Marketing and Communications.  “It’s humbling to think of the countless sacrifices these brave men and women – and their families – have made to keep our country free, so the Motor Company is honored to help salute military personnel this November.”

HD is also giving away one lucky active or retired service man a “Freedom Pass.”  The winner receives a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle of their choice, and a trip to Milwaukee, Wis., along with five of their fellow service members, where they will receive VIP treatment at the H-D Museum and other select gifts.

Victory Motorcycles is also offering a limited edition military wedge badge set on every motorcycle sold today, November 11th.   It features the Military Salute Pin design, and is a small token of appreciation to thank the men and women of the military who sacrifice for our freedom.

In addition to the wedge set, during the month of November, Victory is giving a $1,000 discount for all active military members.


Casino Held Liable for Injuries During Biker Shootout

Laughlin Harrahs, site of 2002 biker club shootout Associated Press Graphic

A civil jury has said that Harrahs Casino in Laughlin Nevada is liable for injuries suffered by patrons during the 2002 brawl between the Hells Angels and Mongols Motorcycle clubs.

Las Vegas attorney Brent Bryson on Thursday told the Las Vegas Sun newspaper the same eight-person Clark County District Court jury that found for his clients late Wednesday has returned today to begin determining the dollar amount of damages.

“We obviously disagree with the finding of liability.” said the lead defense attorney, James Olson.  Olson indicated the Casino may appeal.

“This wasn’t going to be stopped,” he said of the incident, in which he said Hell’s Angels members stormed into the casino past two armed police officers.

One of the plaintiffs, Michael Bower, claimed in the lawsuit he was caught in the crossfire between the Hell’s Angels and Mongols, with the bikers armed with guns, knives and other weapons. Bower said he dove off his gaming chair to seek cover and suffered a back injury as well as emotional trauma and flashbacks to combat during the Vietnam War.

(excerpted from the Las Vegas Sun News)


Hells Angels and Vagos In Shootout Near Prescott Arizona

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s deputies and SWAT members who responded to reports about gunfire on Saturday August 21st, around 12:15pm discovered the Hell’s Angels and Vagos Motorcycle clubs were involved in a altercation that resulted in over 50 shots being exchanged between members of the two clubs.

Police are not saying what prompted the shooting, which injured 5, and according to various reports at least one other club member was injured and fled the scene and has not been located.

photo from venicebeach.org

Observers say the altercation was unavoidable given the close proximity of the rival club member residences.

According to the website Clutch and Chrome, a member of the Hells Angels lives at 2640 Yuma Drive and a member of the Vagos gang lives at 2920 Yuma Drive.

Witnesses told police the Hells Angels were having a party at their members house when a group of the Vagos rode by and were fired upon.

A total of twenty-seven Vagos and Hells Angels club members were arrested on a variety of  charges such as  Aggravated Assault, Attempted Homicide, Endangerment, Participation in a Criminal Street Gang, and Unlawful Assembly.

The Vagos were formed in San Bernardino, California during the 1960’s. The club’s insignia is Loki, the Norse god of mischief, riding a motorcycle and members commonly wear green and are reported to have approximately 300 members among 24 chapters located in the American states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and three chapters located in Mexico.

The Hells Angels are incorporated as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation. Their primary motto is “When we do right, nobody remembers. When we do wrong, nobody forgets”  Currently, Hells Angels

photo from NYDailyNews.com

claims 3000 to 3500 members and more than 230 chapters in 27 countries. Membership has increased by 10% annually during the past five years, according to law enforcement records.