July was the deadliest month for fatal traffic crashes in Iowa since 1999, and a Department of Transportation specialist says two-wheeled vehicles were a big part of the total.
Scott Falb says 51 people were killed on Iowa roadways in July and a high number of motorcycle fatalities, 15, drove the high number of overall fatalities.
Falb says that’s the highest number of July motorcycle fatalities for any month, and the highest in four years. But Falb says that’s not the worst of it. So far in August there have been 14 motorcycle fatalities recorded at DOT headquarters, and there could be a few more reported before the books are closed.
He says that would make July and August the highest back-to-back fatality months since the early 80’s.
The number of motorcycles on the road has increased, but Falb says that doesn’t account for the big increase in deaths. Falb says motorcycle fatalities since the state hit a low in 1997 have increased about 480-percent, from 16 to about 60 this year. He says motorcycle registrations have only gone up about 35-percent in that time.
Older riders could be the reason for the increase in fatalities, according to Falb, as the baby boomers are riding more and riding bigger bikes than when they were kids. He says middle-aged motorists are more fragile. Falb says 64 percent of the fatal motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle, and one third of them are in the 45 to 50 age group.
Lack of helmets is also a factor as Falb says when motorcyclists don’t wear helmets, they’re more likely to die, they’re more likely to be hospitalized after an accident, and they’re more likely to require after care when they get out of the hospital.
For more information on the numbers, visit the DOT website.