Bikes left out of new fed safety plan

Bikes left out of new fed safety plan

Posted by Ben Baker on Nov 7th 2016

Motorcycles are left out of the US Department of Transportation's new Road to Zero safety plan.

The biker community's activists are not happy about this.

"We laud the efforts of these three federal agencies and the National Safety Council to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation's roads," said Wayne Allard, vice president of government relations for the American Motorcyclist Association. "However, during the announcement of this major initiative, no mention was made of motorcycles or motorcyclists, even though the safety of other vulnerable road users – including pedestrians, bicyclists, even joggers – was specifically highlighted." The AMA represent all facets of the motorcycle industry.

It is pretty clear that bikers account for a massively disproportionate number of crashes and fatalities. But we who ride already knew that. The question is, why is the federal government ignoring this fact?

That's a question which will likely go unanswered.


What the biker community does have are facts, some of which come from the federal DOT.

The DOT press release points to road fatalities as a reason for the "Road to Zero" effort. "Last year in America, 35,092 people died on our nation’s roads – a 7.2 percent increase over the previous year, and one of the biggest single-year increases on record."

Consumer Reports says more than 5,000 bikers were killed in 2015. That's 10 percent more than in 2014.

Using the two stats, 14 percent of road deaths were bikers. "In 2013, motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, 4 percent of all people injured, 18 percent of all occupants (driver and passenger) fatalities, and 4 percent of all occupants injured," says the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA is one of the agencies behind Road to Zero.


A rough estimate says that less than 2 percent of the vehicles on the road at any time are motorcycles.

Look at this another way. According to the Hedges Company in 2015, 257.9 million vehicles (cars, light trucks & motorcycles) were registered. Three percent, 7.7 million, were motorcycles.

What state has the most registered bikes?

Figure that most riders spend less time on their bike than they do in a cage.
The Federal DOT blames part of the biker fatalities on people who don't have the M class endorsement. "The number of motorcycle riders (operators) who did not have a valid license and were involved in a fatal crash has increased by 89.6 percent over the past decade, from 665 in 1998 to 1,261 in 2007. In 2007, one out of four motorcycle operators (25%) involved in fatal crashes were riding their motorcycle with invalid licenses at the time of the crash, while only 13 percent of drivers of passenger vehicles in fatal crashes did not have valid licenses," says one DOT report from a few years ago.


Biker crash fatalities are on a slow but steady rise since a low point in 1996. The number of bikes on the road is also slowly rising.

The federal DOT announced the "Road to Zero" program Oct. 7. Read the official press release here. The "Road to Zero" link in this article goes to a dead website.