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Status Report, Vol. 43, No. 10 | November 25, 2008 Subscribe

Motorcyclist death count keeps rising

Motorcyclists set another record for crash deaths during 2007, with 5,037 killed. Passenger vehicle occupant deaths, meanwhile, fell to their lowest level ever recorded. These are some highlights of the Institute's 2007 edition of Fatality Facts, based on analysis of federal crash data.

Motorcyclist deaths have more than doubled since 1997, reaching a record 12 percent of the 41,059 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2007. More motorcyclists died in crashes during 2007 than in any year since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began collecting data in 1975 in what's now the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). In contrast, fewer passenger vehicle occupants (28,896) died in crashes in 2007 than in any year since FARS began. The motor vehicle death toll in 2007 was the lowest in 13 years.

The rise in motorcyclist deaths continues to be pronounced among riders 40 and older (see "Motorcyclist fatalities push total crash deaths up," Nov. 21, 2006). During 2007, 49 percent of motorcyclists killed were 40 and older, up from 40 percent in 2000 and 14 percent in 1990.

Most motor vehicle deaths involve people in passenger vehicles. During 2007, 70 percent of people killed in crashes were passenger vehicle occupants, 12 percent were motorcyclists, 11 percent were pedestrians, 2 percent were bicyclists, and 2 percent were people in large trucks. During 2007, the rate of all motor vehicle crash deaths per 100 million miles traveled set a record low of 1.37. This compares with a rate of 3.35 in 1975.

Crash deaths among children younger than 13 who were passenger vehicle occupants, pedestrians, or bicyclists also set a record low. During the past decade, declines in crash deaths of children in this age group have outpaced their population increase.

Meanwhile, 4,946 teenagers ages 13-19 died in crashes in 2007, a 4 percent drop from 2006 and 43 percent fewer than in 1975.

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