Texas motorcyclist deaths spike in 2020
AUSTIN – Despite less traffic on the road in 2020 and a 2% reduction in motorcycle crashes, safety officials are alarmed by a 17% increase in Texas motorcycle fatalities compared to 2019. On average, a motorcyclist is killed in a crash on Texas roads every day—last year 482 died. Motorcyclists account for 12% of all traffic fatalities statewide.
May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the Texas Department of Transportation’s annual “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign gets underway to call attention to the safety precautions motorists can take to protect motorcyclists and themselves. In 2020, in the 7,481 motorcycle crashes in Texas, 1,856 motorcyclists were seriously injured and 482 were killed.
“May through October is an especially dangerous period for motorcyclists in Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Of all the motorcyclist deaths in Texas during 2020, more than 61% happened in that period. It’s so important to remember that these motorcyclists don’t have the same protections that drivers in vehicles have, and that’s why we’re urging all motorists to stay watchful and alert when traveling alongside motorcycles so everyone can reach their destination safely.”
The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) reports that fatal crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur when drivers misjudge the motorcycle’s distance and speed and make left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist. Last year, almost one-third of Texas motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related. TTI also points to driver inattention as a contributing factor to motorcycle crashes.
TxDOT has these safety tips for drivers to protect motorcyclists and prevent crashes:
- Take extra care when making a left turn. It’s safest to let the motorcycle pass to avoid turning in front of the rider.
- Pay special attention at intersections. Nearly one in three motorcycle fatalities happens at a roadway intersection.
- Give driving your full attention. Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the radio station, can have deadly consequences.
- Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots, and always use turn signals.
- Give motorcyclists room when passing them. Move over to the passing lane and don’t crowd the motorcyclist’s full lane.
- Stay back. If you’re behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe following distance. When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of applying the brake to slow down, it can catch drivers off guard since there are no brake lights to signal reduced speed.
- Slow down. Obey posted speed limits and drive to conditions.
The “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. November 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.