Thursday, January 13, 2005


Motorcycle Crash Data: Texas

I just received my latest issue of the Texas DPS's Motorcycle Instructor Newsletter. Contained therein where some interesting numbers regarding the recently compiled fatal accident report data from 2001. I thought I'd share them here, along with some of my thoughts regarding the findings.

In 2001, 254 Texas motorcyclists died on their bikes. Out of the total, only 18 had taken one or more of our riding courses. This number would generally tend to support the statistics used by the MSF, which state that trained riders are almost 90 percent less likely to be injured or killed while riding. Granted, statistics mean nothing in the grand scheme of things and are easily concocted, but the fact that well over 90 percent of the riders who died in 2001 likely had no formal training, is certainly food for thought.

A little over 54 percent of the 254 motorcyclists killed in 2001 had no motorcycle license. This is apparently a growing problem in Texas, because there have been mutterings for the last few years about proposed legislation that would make the basic MSF course mandatory for all new motorcyclists. The problem with that rationale is, if new riders aren't bothering to get an already-mandatory license, what makes Austin think they'll sign up and pay for a mandatory training course?

Exactly 48 percent of the fatalities were caused by single-vehicle accidents. This is another number which bolsters the idea that many of the Hurt findings are still relevant. And while it is likely that a small percentage of these accidents were not due to rider error, you can bet the farm that the vast majority certainly were.

Alcohol/drug use and failure to properly control the motorcycle were also major contributors across the gamut of these accidents.

A quick glance at this data leads me to believe that common sense indeed prevails in determining whether or not a motorcyclist will be successful. The major causes of motorcyclist death are still lack of rider skill and drug impairment, just as in years past. Some politicians and cops would have us believe that exceeding the speed limit is the major cause of rider fatality, but as usual, hard data refutes such nonsensical claims.

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