FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 2, 2022
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement of Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, an annual event to focus on reducing the persistent death and injury toll due to motorcycle crashes. In 2020, the number of motorcycle riders killed, 5,579, was the largest in a single year since data collection began in 1975. This was also an alarming 11 percent increase from 2019 and accounted for 14 percent of all roadway deaths. Additionally, more than 82,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Proven solutions are urgently needed to stem the rising toll of motorcycle crashes.
Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent and the risk of death by 42 percent. Estimates show that helmets save the lives of approximately 1,800 motorcycle riders each year and that nearly 750 more lives in all states could be saved if all motorcycle riders had worn helmets. For these reasons, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) has included an all-rider motorcycle helmet requirement as a critical law for all states to enact in our Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws since the first edition in 2004. In states without universal helmet laws, almost 60 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2019 were not wearing helmets, compared to nine percent in states with such laws, according to NHTSA. Given this clear and compelling evidence, Advocates urges states to preserve existing all-rider motorcycle helmet requirements and calls upon states lacking this lifesaving traffic safety law to take swift action to add it.
Additionally, automatic emergency braking (AEB) and other advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) should be required as standard equipment in all new vehicles with the ability to detect and respond to motorcycle riders and other vulnerable road users, as appropriate. While the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, Pub. L. 117-58), signed into law last November, requires AEB in new passenger vehicles and large commercial trucks, it is essential that the U.S. Department of Transportation includes protections for motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users in the rules. Performance standards for antilock brakes on motorcycles would also produce compelling safety gains. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that motorcycles with antilock braking systems were involved in 22 percent fewer fatal crashes than those without this technology.
Motorcycles are the most hazardous form of motor vehicle transportation. Per vehicle mile traveled (VMT), motorcycle riders were nearly 29 times more likely to be killed in a traffic crash in 2019 than the occupants of passenger vehicles. For those riders injured in crashes, the repercussions can result in a lifelong, debilitating injury. Fortunately, solutions, including all-rider motorcycle helmet requirements and vehicle safety technology to prevent crashes, are available. State lawmakers and the U.S. DOT must act expeditiously to prioritize these lifesaving countermeasures.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.