A record 61 motorcyclists were killed on Iowa’s roads last year and state transportation officials say this year’s death toll is keeping up at an alarming rate. The weather is just starting to get nice for riding motorcycles, and Iowa D-O-T safety specialist Scott Falb says already ten motorcyclists have been killed statewide this year.
"Due to our late spring, that’s probably only kept us on pace with last year. We had an early spring last year and lost four motorcyclists in March alone," Falb says, "if things keep up for the rest of the good weather months, we will unfortunately, easily match that 61 fatalities."
In many cases, Falb says the motorcyclists who were killed on Iowa’s roadways last year could have prevented their own deaths by driving slower and safer. He says, "At least 30% of these motorcycle crashes involve speed and more than 40-percent involve losing control of the vehicle."
Falb says more than a third of the fatal motorcycle crashes involved the motorcyclists being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He says nearly 70% of last year’s fatal motorcycle crashes were single-vehicle crashes, as have been two-thirds of this year’s deadly wrecks. He says it’s also alarming to see how many of last year’s deadly motorcycle crashes involved collisions with deer.
He says it was a real surprise to see seven deer-related motorcycle crashes with ten fatalities and that represents a "major change" from past years when there were only one or two per year. Falb says motorcycle fatalities in Iowa are up 281-percent from the low in 1996, while motorcycle registrations are up 43% from the low in 1997.
Falb urges motorists to keep a close eye out for motorcycles and to avoid distractions like cell phones and text messaging. As for motorcyclists, he says to stay alert, don’t speed, don’t drink and drive, and do wear a helmet.