An Iowa DOT study finds the number of licensed motorcycle drivers in Iowa has risen four percent in recent years, but the number of fatal motorcycle crashes has gone up 291 percent. Scott Falb, a DOT safety specialist, says his research dates back into the mid-1990s. The modern low for motorcycle fatalities was in 1996 with 16 deaths. The numbers have risen every year since then, peaking at 51 last year. So far in 2004, 32 motorcycle riders have been killed in Iowa, well ahead of the 26 deaths as of this date a year ago. Falb says one key element is in the use of helmets. He says about 25 percent of Iowa motorcyclists wear helmets but of those involved in fatal crashes, only eight percent were wearing helmets — meaning, 92 percent of motorcyclists who die in crashes are not wearing helmets. Falb says 56 percent of the fatal motorcycle crashes last year were single-vehicle crashes. Iowa did pass a law requiring helmets in September 1976 but it was repealed nine months later.
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