A report released by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association last week has drawn attention to what seems to be a growing problem in Louisiana: motorcycle safety. The state’s motorcycle related deaths increased by 28 percent this year to 104 deaths from the 81 in 2008. However, this number is made all the more disturbing by the fact that, nationally, deadly crashes decreased by 10 percent with motorcycle fatalities dropping from 5,290 in 2008 to 4762 in 2009.
Economists and experts have offered many explanations for the decline in motorcyclist deaths nationally. Some include less motorcycle use due to the economic downturn, fewer beginning motorcyclists on the road, increased state efforts on motorcycle safety and poor cycling weather in some areas.
Some reasons for Louisiana’s increase have been discussed and the temporary absence of a motorcycle safety program offered by the state for six months is seen as a major factor. The program was shut down while it was moved from the Department of Education to the Department of Public Safety. These classes, while not required to receive a motorcycle endorsement on your driving license, are attended by roughly 2,000 people each year. Other factors for the state’s jump in road deaths is an increase in the number of alcohol related deaths as well as a longer riding season due to the state’s temperate climate.