As we told you earlier this summer, fatal motorcycle accidents are on the rise in Tennessee compared to years past. In fact, there have already been 97 motorcyclists killed in 2012, 10 more than at this time last year. There’s actually been a decline in recent months. In May, for example, motorcycle rider deaths were up by nearly a third compared to the same period in 2011.

There might be a few reasons for this. One is that higher gas prices may be driving those who would normally drive a gas guzzling SUV to opt for a motorcycle instead. Riding a bike is unquestionably cheaper.

Another probable reason is that last winter was pretty mild. That means more people were out and about on motorcycles, since extremely cold air was not a deterrent as it usually might be.

Still, even with possible explanations like this, it’s obvious that something needs to be done about the problem. A state coordinator for the Tennessee Motorcycle Rider Education Program believes that rider safety courses can decrease the possibility of motorcycle accidents by 60 percent.

Accidents are caused by a variety of factors, but not wearing a helmet definitely plays a role: It’s estimated that 37 percent of motorcycle crash deaths could have been prevented with helmets.

As the weather gets colder, it will be interesting to see if the numbers go down. Hopefully the alarming numbers in the news will make people a little more cautious, too.

Source: WMOT, “Tennessee motorcycle fatalities up dramatically in 2012,” Shawn Anfinson, Aug. 31, 2012

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