April 23, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bill Kresnak
Phone: (614) 856-1900
PICKERINGTON, OHIO -- Motorcycling-related fatalities were up 3 percent for the year 2002 compared to the previous year, according to preliminary estimates released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Meanwhile, overall highway fatalities were up about 1.5 percent in 2002 to 42,850, compared to 42,116 in 2001, the traffic safety agency said. That represents the highest number of fatalities since 1990.
The federal agency`s preliminary report states that 3,276 motorcyclists lost their lives on America`s roads in 2002, or 95 more than the 3,181 killed in 2001.
While deaths are up, the preliminary estimate shows that the increase in motorcyclist fatalities over the past several years has slowed, even though motorcycle sales continued at near-record levels.
"This slowdown is a hopeful sign, but there is still a lot we can do to save motorcyclists` lives on our nation`s highways," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "The top priority for anyone interested in saving motorcyclists` lives should be legislation in Congress to fund comprehensive research into the causes of motorcycle crashes.
"Drunk riding also needlessly causes deaths, and the AMA is launching a national Ride Straight campaign in cooperation with the NHTSA to educate riders about the dangers of drinking and riding," Moreland said.
The upward trend of motorcycling fatalities in recent years followed 17 consecutive years of declines. From 1990 through 1999 alone, motorcycling-related fatalities dropped by 48 percent.
The AMA noted that one significant reason for the increase in motorcycling-related fatalities in recent years is that motorcycling has seen an enormous increase in popularity, with sales of new street bikes up more than 100 percent over five years – from about 243,000 in 1997 to more than 500,000 in 2001.
Moreland and his staff in the AMA`s Washington, D.C., office are working on Capitol Hill to get $3 million in funding for an in-depth motorcycle crash study. That funding would be part of congressional reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.
More than 60 federal lawmakers have signed a letter delivered to U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, urging him to back this study to find ways to prevent motorcycle crashes. The last such study – "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures," commonly called the Hurt Report (after lead researcher Harry Hurt) – was conducted more than 20 years ago.
Rider-training and motorist-awareness programs are just two of the efforts to improve motorcyclists` safety that were prompted by the Hurt Report.
Issued April 23, 2003
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. As the world`s largest motorcycling organization, the AMA advocates for motorcyclists` interests in the halls of local, state and federal government, the committees of international governing organizations, and the court of public opinion. Through member clubs, promoters and partners, the AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. AMA members receive money-saving discounts from dozens of well-known suppliers of motorcycle services, gear and apparel, bike rental, transport, hotel stays and more. Through its Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, the AMA preserves the heritage of motorcycling for future generations.