My mother still won’t let me buy a motorcycle. But I think I’ve finally reached the age where I have enough appreciation of the dangers of riding one that I’m not too interested in getting one.
The Dallas Morning News ran a good story about such dangers recently. Here are excerpts:
Motorcycle fatalities in Texas dropped by 6 percent in 2012, after more than a decade of mostly bad news for riders, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
The agency reports that 460 people on motorcycles or scooters died in accidents last year, compared with 488 a year earlier.
More than half of those killed were not wearing helmets.
Nationally, motorcycle fatalities have been on the rise since the 1990s. The number in Texas has increased by 56 percent since 2004, while other traffic fatalities have been steadily decreasing.
“Motorists often report that they didn’t see the motorcyclists,” said Mark Cross, a transportation department spokesman. “Seeing them and being aware of them tends to be one of the main problems.”
That’s confirmed by research from Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute. It found that in more than half of crashes involving a motorcycle, another involved driver failed to see the motorcycle.
It’s not clear why fatalities are down in Texas.
“We don’t have an explanation, but we’re certainly glad to see it,” Cross said.
Almost 90 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death. Among fatal accidents, 56 percent occurred in Texas cities, 44 percent in rural areas.
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the agency has not yet finished compiling 2012 fatality statistics. But the Governors Highway Safety Association projects that motorcycle fatalities increased nationally in 2012. If so, that would be the 14th time in 15 years.
Explanations for the increases have included the elimination of mandatory helmet laws in Texas and other states, an increasing number of high-performance motorcycles, and an overall increase in the number of motorcycles on the road.
Sam Warren of the Patriot Guard Riders said Texas roads don’t feel safer, notwithstanding the decline last year in motorcycle deaths. He added that 460 such deaths is still a huge number.
Warren blamed distracted drivers for some of the risk that motorcyclists face. He said he frequently sees drivers on the phone or texting as their cars swerve into lanes occupied by motorcyclists.
“We have two little rubber patches in contact with the ground,” he said. “We don’t have the stopping ability that the cars do.”