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1.3 million people in California are licensed to operate a motorcycle and as of January 2010, there were over 800,000 motorcycles registered in the State.
Rising gas prices have forced an increasing number of commuters out of their cars and onto motorcycles. An unfortunate consequence of this is a growing incidence of motorcycle fatalities and serious accidents.
Despite the fact that fewer than 3 percent of registered passenger vehicles nationwide are motorcycles, they account for nearly 9 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities.
According to recent California Highway Patrol accident statistics, an average of 1 traffic collision was reported about every single minute. Of these, 1 person was killed about every 2 ½ hours as a result of a traffic collision. And, 1 person was injured about every 2 minutes as a result of a traffic collision.
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Out of all of these motor vehicle collisions, motorcycles were involved in 12,350 collisions, resulting in 429 fatalities, or 10 percent of the total number of people killed on California’s roadways. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic collision.
After an all-time low in 1998, beginning in 1999, the number of motorcycle accident victims began to increase in California. That increase has continued until this day. Motorcyclists killed in 2008 increased 164.5% from 1998 and the number of those injured increased 85.8% over that same year. Licensed motorcycle drivers in 2008 increased 45.6% over 1998. In 2008, there were 529 motorcycle accident victims killed of which 71 did not indicate that safety equipment was used and there were 11,764 motorcycle accident victims injured of which 1,613 did not indicate that safety equipment was used. Motorcycle accident victims killed increased by 12.1% from 2007. Motorcycle accident victims injured increased 5.0% over that same year. There were 563 motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions of which 378 were the driver at fault. According to these figures, 67.1% of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions were at fault.
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Of the 563 motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions, 204 (36.2%) were involved in fatal collisions where no other party was involved. The motorcyclist was at fault 91.6% of the time in solo motorcycle fatal collisions.
In 2008, alcohol involved fatal collisions decreased by 8.0% and alcohol involved persons killed also decreased 9.0% over the previous year. This is the second year in a row to show a decrease in the number of alcohol-involved fatal collision and persons killed in those collisions.
Motorcycle riding is fun and exhilarating, but these statistics show that it is also serious business. Experienced riders know that there is no such thing as a minor fender bender when you are on 2 wheels. With all the distractions facing drivers of 4 wheeled vehicles today, it is even more imperative than ever that motorcycle riders pay attention to the road themselves and take the utmost care when riding on public roadways. Have fun. Ride free, and always ride safe.