Motorcycle Deaths Decline in California

Motorcycle Crash Report

The California Office of Traffic Safety reported that for the fourth year in a row, DUI deaths dropped in 2009. At the same time, motorcycle fatalities saw their first drop since 1998, marking the end to an 11-year, 175 percent increase.

DUI and motorcycle deaths were just two of the highlights of a statewide decline in total traffic fatalities of 10.3 percent.

In figures released by the Federal government today, California recorded 950 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009, a 7.6 percent decline from 1,025 in 2008. The 2009 totals mark a 26.8 percent drop from the 2005 high of 1,298. Motorcycle fatalities dropped by 29.6 percent, from 560 in 2008 to 394 in 2009. Total traffic fatalities from all causes fell from 3,434 in 2008 to 3,081 last year.

Christopher J. Murphy (Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS)) says: "Everyone in California should be heartened with these figures. But as encouraging as this is, we can’t let up on the efforts to encourage and enforce traffic safety. Thousands are still losing their lives or being severely injured on our roadways."

Reasons for the declines are many and varied. The downturn in the economy is one factor among many. Gasoline sales dropped by 4 percent from 2007 to 2008, but have stayed flat since then.

Motorcycle registrations have dropped nearly 2 percent. Automobiles have more safety engineered into them. Increased DUI enforcement and public awareness through such programs as DUI checkpoints, the Avoid DUI Task Forces program and the Report Drunk Drivers – Call 911 campaign have worked.

Motorcycle training programs and safety campaigns through the California Highway Patrol (CHP) have trained over 300,000 riders since 2005.

Joe Farrow (California Highway Patrol Commissioner) says: "The numbers released this morning are especially good news. They are a direct result of efforts by all motorists, law enforcement officers throughout the state, laws designed to keep people safe on our roads, and technological advances by automobile manufacturers to build safer cars."

"Our work is not done, however, until we can ensure that every trip behind the wheel of a car or on a motorcycle in California ends safely."

For over three years OTS, CHP, California Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration, county and local governments, as well as numerous advocate groups, businesses, community organizations and individuals have been actively pursuing work on over 150 specific actions contained within the California Strategic Highway Safety Plan.

The Plan is an unprecedented collaboration of those working across the entire spectrum of traffic safety, with the goal of significantly reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from traffic safety crashes.

Christopher Murphy says: "These figures represent more people making it home safely and alive each day. But to keep this trend going, we will continue to strive to meet our vision – Toward zero deaths, every 1 counts."


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