There has been a 115 percent increase in fatal crashes involving motorcyclists since 1997, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The total number of fatalities in 2005 climbed to 4,553, more than a 12-percent increase from the previous year.
These figures, according to experts, serve to underscore the importance of road safety for both motorcyclists and automobile drivers.
"The tremendous growth in the popularity of motorcycling has added millions of new motorcycles and riders to our roadways," said AAA President Robert L. Darbelnet. Motorcycle registration has increased nearly 50 percent in just under a decade, according to the organization's statistics.
"This means drivers need to be more aware than ever of how to share the road safely with motorcycles," Darbelnet said. "And motorcyclists need to take every opportunity to increase their margin of traffic safety."
AAA advises motorcyclists to wear bright or reflective clothing and a quality helmet. NHTSA estimates helmet use would reduce the likelihood of a crash fatality by 37 percent. Safety tips for drivers include providing motorcyclists with adequate room to maneuver; following at least three to four seconds behind a motorcycle to allow for hazardous road conditions such as pavement transitions, potholes or railroad crossings; and checking their side mirrors before changing lanes.
For more information, log on to www.AAA.com.