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US Traffic Fatalities Fall Sharply During 1st Half of 2013

Road deaths down 4.2% – reversing upward surge in 2012.

by on Oct.31, 2013

Experts credit better safety technology for at least some of the reduction in highway fatalities.

U.S. traffic deaths fell by 4.2% during the first half of 2013, according to preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reversing an unexpected upward surge the previous year.

The federal safety agency still estimated that 15,470 people died in all forms of motor vehicle crashes between January 1 and June 30, though that was down from the 16,150 fatalities reported during the first half of 2012. Some states, such as Ohio, are on track to have their lowest death tolls since record keeping began on a per-mile basis.

Measured in terms of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, the rate for the first six months of the year dipped to 1.06, down from 1.10 fatalities during the first half of 2012.

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There had been some concern that the total fatality count might rise as the economy recovers, a traditional pattern that reflects more Americans taking to the road – particularly during the dangerous rush hour periods.  Government and industry officials are studying the surprising reversal to see what has contributed, instead, to the decline in deaths.

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Motorcycle Deaths Rising Rapidly

No-helmet laws catch blame, but so does weather.

by on Apr.26, 2013

US motorcycle fatalities rose nearly 250% since 1997.

Motorcycle deaths rose 9% last year, according to new data from the Governors Highway Safety Administration – marking the 14th time out of the last 15 years that there has been a rise in fatalities.

All told, about 5,000 Americans were killed in motorcycle crashes in last year, a nearly 240% increase from 1997, even though overall traffic fatalities have dropped by nearly a quarter during the same time period.

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“This is a bad situation that is getting worse,” said Jonathan Adkins, GHSA’s deputy executive director.

Adkins is one of many pointing the finger at the ongoing, state-by-state repeal of helmet laws.  In Michigan, a state police report found that motorcycle deaths surged 18% during 2012 – the year lawmakers repealed the state’s helmet requirement. By comparison, overall traffic deaths increased a more modest 5.3%.

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Helmet Law Repeals Raising Motorcycle Deaths

Trends counters decline in auto fatalities.

by on Jun.07, 2012

Easy Riders. More and more states are lifting motorcycle helmet laws -- to tragic results.

“We call it the organ donor enhancement act,” said Dr. Bob, a physician at a large suburban Detroit hospital.  “We’ve always had a shortage of donors but expect to see the numbers go way up,” said the emergency room veteran asking not to be quoted by his full name speaking so callously.

But it appears he was right to fear the impact of the recent decision by Michigan lawmakers to repeal the state’s mandatory helmet law.  A new report by the independent investigative website FairWarning.org finds that the trend towards giving riders the freedom to go helmet-less is resulting in a significant increase in motorcycle fatalities.

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That’s precisely the opposite direction from the overall highway death trend.  Despite the surge in motorcycle fatalities, overall traffic deaths last year fell to their lowest level since 1949 and on a deaths-per-100-million-miles-driven basis the figure was the lowest since records started being kept in the 1920s.

Put another way, noted FairWarning, in 1997, total motorcycle fatalities came to 2,116, one of every 20 U.S. traffic death.  By 2010 that surged to one in seven, with total motorcycle fatalities increasing to 4,502.

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