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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Texas motorcyclist deaths spike in 2020, TxDOT reports

The department of transportation reported a 17% increase in motorcyclist deaths in 2020 compared to 2019.

TEXAS, USA — The Texas Department of Transportation reported a 17 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities compared to 2019 even though there was less traffic on the road in 2020 and a two percent reduction in motorcycle crashes. 

TxDOT reported that, on average, a motorcyclist is killed in crash on a Texas road every day. However, 482 motorcyclists died as a result of a crash last year, TxDOT reported. Motorcyclists account for 12 percent of all traffic fatalities statewide, the department added. 

In 2020, in the 7,481 motorcycle crashes in Texas, 1,856 motorcyclists were seriously injured a nd 482 were killed, TxDOT reported. 

“May through October is an especially dangerous period for motorcyclists in Texas,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said in a release. “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.”

May is National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and TxDOT has also launched its annual "Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles" campaign to raise awareness for the safety precautions drivers can take to protect motorcyclists and themselves. 

The Texas Transportation Institute reported that fatal motorcycle crashes often happen when drivers misjudge a motorcycle's distance and speed and make left turn in front of an oncoming motorist, TxDOT said. 

Per TxDOT, almost one-third of Texas motorcycle fatalities happened at an intersection or were intersection-related. They said driver distractedness also contributes to crashes. 

The department shared some safety tips for drivers to prevent crashes and protect motorcyclists. Those safety tips include:

  • 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.