Speeding, alcohol, inexperience, impaired driving and the lack of helmet use are factors that affect the increase in motorcycle deaths in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Motorcycle deaths continue to climb. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 706 motorcyclists who died in 2010 would have survived if they had been wearing their helmets. In 29% of the fatalities in 2010, the motorcyclists had a blood-alcohol content about the legal limit and about 35% of the motorcyclists were found to be speeding. Other factors include, motor vehicle drivers not being attentive enough to their surroundings, violating the motorcyclists right of way and being impaired.
Only 19 states, including Maryland and Virginia, and the District of Columbia have helmet requirements and laws for all riders.
In the first nine months of 2012, there were 138 motorcycle deaths in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Nationwide, the number of motorcycle fatalities were 3,922, in the same period of time. Therefore, the number of motorcycle deaths has almost doubled in recent years. When all the motorcycle fatalities are calculated for 2012, it is believed that the number of deaths will be close to 5,000. Nationwide, 34 states reported more deaths in 2012 and 16 recorded fewer. In 2011, there were three motorcycle deaths in the District of Columbia, 63 in Maryland and 72 in Virginia.
The Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) believed that good weather, higher gas prices and an improving economy were the most common explanations for the rise in motorcycle fatalities. Troy Costales, the immediate past president of the GHSA stated that, “The fatality increase is disheartening.” “Every motorcyclist deserves to arrive at their destination safely. These numbers represent real people – they are family, friends and neighbors.”
Maryland currently has the following Motorcycle requirements: Helmets must be worn by the motorcycle operator and passenger at all times and eye protection must be used. The motorcycle helmet must have a windscreen or the motorcycle operator must wear approved eye-protective device.
The state of Maryland also offers rider training courses because riding a motorcycle requires special skills and concentration. The courses are offered to both new and experienced riders. The courses teach the participants the special skills and mental strategies necessary for responsible motorcycle operation. The course approved curricula meets and exceeds the standards established by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. For more information on these motorcycle rider training courses, please visit the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s motorcycle training site.