The increase in fatalities among motorcyclists reported this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration underscores the critical need for new research into the causes of motorcycle crashes, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.
According to NHTSA data released this week, 4,810 motorcyclists were killed on the nation's highways during 2006, an increase of 5 percent over 2005. That marks the ninth year of increasing deaths after more than a decade of declining fatalities.
For several years, the AMA and the motorcycling community have been campaigning to get federal funding for a comprehensive study into the causes of traffic crashes involving motorcycles. The last such study was completed in 1980, and its conclusions have become less useful as the traffic environment has changed over the past quarter-century.
Recently, Congress appropriated funding for a motorcycle-crash study that required the motorcycling community to come up with matching funds before the research can begin. Thanks to a major contribution from the motorcycle industry, through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, along with pledges from the American Motorcyclist Association and individual riders, that funding is now assured, and the study should begin this fall at the Oklahoma Transportation Center, which is an independent and respected research center at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
"The increasing number of fatalities among motorcyclists over the past nine years have concerned us," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. "And that's why we've worked so hard to get an updated study of the causes of motorcycle crashes.
"We look forward to getting this valuable research that will help save lives on the nation's highways."