The latest update indicates nine people died on Iowa roadways over the long Labor Day weekend.
While it could be days before final reports from every county and town are in, DOT driver-safety specialist Scott Falb says five of the nine counted so far died while riding motorcycles. That puts the year’s total at 49 motorcycle fatalities in Iowa, higher than it’s been in a while.
Falb says we’re well on the way to breaking the record set two years ago of 51 motorcycle fatalities in a year. He points out there’s two months of good cycling weather still ahead so it’s likely we’ll match that record or break it.
Falb, who keeps records for the transportation department, says it’s quite a jump but he thinks it was predictable.
He sees motorcycle deaths follow the same cycle as the number of motorcycles registered in the state. They were at a peak in 1980 and so were the number of motorcycle-related fatalities.
He says it’s clear that in years when fewer two-wheelers were registered in the state, there were fewer people killed in highway accidents on motorcycles. 1997 was the low point, with half the 1980 number or about 107,000 motorcycle registrations. Motorcycle deaths hit a low of 16 in 1996, but he says both the number of machines and the death rate have been going up ever since.