A new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) projects that final statistics will show a drop in motorcycle accident fatalities in South Carolina and across the country in 2013.
However, the numbers may not be as positive as they seem at first glance. The GHSA suggests that the projected decrease may actually have more to do with bad weather than any other factor.
In other words, it is no time to ease up on motorcycle safety efforts.
With May being Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, motorcycle riders and car drivers alike should focus on what they can do to reduce motorcycle accidents, injuries and deaths in Upstate South Carolina and throughout our state.
Report Projects 7 Percent Drop in U.S. Motorcycle Accident Deaths
On May 6, the GHSA released its report, “Motorcyclist Traffic Fatalities by State.” In the report, the GHSA estimates that motorcycle rider deaths will have fallen by 7 percent in the U.S. by the time the final statistics from 2013 are tallied.
In 2012, there were 4,957 motorcycle accident deaths recorded in the U.S. In 2013, the GHSA projects that number to be about 4,610.
According to the GHSA, it would mark only the second time since 1997 that U.S. motorcycle accident deaths would have dropped. In 2012, motorcycle accidents deaths in the U.S. had spiked.
The GHSA bases its projection on preliminary state data from the first nine months of 2013.
In South Carolina, the report shows that motorcycle accident deaths slightly decreased during that period, going from 120 in the first nine months of 2012 to 114 in 2013, or a 5 percent drop.
However, the GHSA notes in its report that the fatality totals for 2013 are “very similar” to those from 2011 and blames the rise in motorcycle accident deaths in 2012 on “transitory reasons.” In particular, the GHSA blames the weather.
According to the report, more accidents may have occurred in 2012 due to the fact that unusually warm and dry weather allowed more motorcycles to be on the road.
In 2013, several states (including South Carolina) saw a return to the same wet and wintry weather they had seen in 2011. The weather cut down on the number of people riding motorcycles, which in turn led to a decrease in motorcycle accident fatalities and numbers similar to 2011, the GHSA states.
Motorcyclists and Car Drivers Both Play Important Roles
South Carolina motorcyclists and car drivers cannot control the weather. However, they can control what they do on the road and play a role in improving motorcycle safety in our state.
Car drivers can:
- Give motorcycles a full lane and never “share” a lane with a motorcycle
- Check mirrors and blind spots before merging, switching lanes or going through an intersection
- Leave a three- or four-second following distance behind a motorcycle so the motorcyclist will have enough room to maneuver or stop in case of an emergency.
Meanwhile, motorcyclists can:
- Wear bright colors and use reflectors or reflector tape on their motorcycle and clothes
- Make sure the motorcycle’s lights operate and are turned on – even during the day
- Leave plenty of room between the motorcycle and surrounding vehicles
- Stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots.
Even though the law in South Carolina requires only riders under age 21 to wear helmets, it is recommended that all motorcyclists and their passengers do so. While wearing a helmet does not decrease the risk of an accident occurring, it does cut down on the risk of suffering serious injuries in a crash, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury.