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Motorcycle accident deaths rise as overall vehicle deaths fall

In some ways, driving on American roads is safer than ever. In recent years, the total number of motor vehicle accident deaths in the U.S. has been dropping. But the trend is not true for motorcycles. In Illinois and across the U.S., the number of fatal motorcycle accidents is rising.

In Illinois, there were 131 motorcycle fatalities in 2010, and 148 fatalities in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. That's an increase of 13 percent.

Nationwide, the number of motorcycle fatalities increased 9 percent from 2011 to 2012. Between 1997 and 2011, motorcycle deaths rose from 2,116 to 4,612, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The increase has traffic safety experts troubled.

An Illinois State Police official told a news reporter that it's hard to know exactly why so many more fatal motorcycle accidents are occurring. One possibility is the increased numbers of motorcycle riders. Illinois sees about 13,000 new motorcyclists each year.

These new riders may not receive proper training, which increases their risk of an accident. But the police official says that crash statistics do not reveal a major cause or a major change. The most common factor in a fatal motorcycle accident is failing to reduce speed in time. That could be the result of drivers failing to see motorcyclists. Improper use of lanes, alcohol, and failure to negotiate curves properly are other factors.

In an effort to increase motorcycle safety, the Illinois Department of Transportation has a public awareness campaign called "Start Seeing Motorcycles." A motorcyclist group has other campaigns.

Source: Journal Star, "Motorcycle fatalities show troubling increase," Jason Nevel, June 16, 2013

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