Editor's Note: Motorcycle accidents in Tennessee are up dramatically in 2012. The grim numbers are more than statistics for WMOT Reporter Shawn Anfinson.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (ANFINSON) -- I’ve been riding a motorcycle for the better part of 15 years. With high prices at the pump, it’s a cheap way to get around, and it’s fun. But the large number of motorcyclists killed this year have given me pause.
Fatal crashes have taken the lives of 97 riders in 2012 compared with 87 riders at this time last year. Despite the high numbers, this represents a slowdown in deaths from past months. Motorcycle deaths in early May were up 31 percent over the past year according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
State Coordinator for the Tennessee Motorcycle Rider Education Program, John Milliken, thinks that mild winter weather could share some of the blame. Motorcyclists are more likely to ride in warm, dry conditions, increasing the probability for more accidents.
Milliken hopes to put the brakes on further motorcycle fatalities through improved programming. A five year study by the planning and research division of the Tennessee State Patrol demonstrates the lifesaving power of motorcycle safety courses.
"People who’ve take the course, the basic rider course or the experienced rider course, are some 60 percent less likely to be involved in fatal or personal injury accidents. And they’re also some 60 percent less likely to be at fault when they are in accidents."
Statistics show that 37 percent of fatalities can be prevented by wearing a helmet. And it’s worth noting that nearly 23 percent of motorcycle fatalities last year were alcohol related.
John Milliken has some advice for riders out there.
"Take the classes. I think that even if you’ve been riding for a lot of years you’ll find some things that you’ve been doing in some cases but really didn’t realize you were... And the most import thing is don’t ride beyond your ability."
A list of motorcycle training locations and schedules can be found on the Tennessee government website.