Motorcycle fatalities in Tennessee remain high

by | Nov 11, 2014

Motorcycle fatalities in Tennessee have increased dramatically, from 42 deaths in 1998 to 134 deaths in 2013, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. The rise in motorcycle causalities in Tennessee during that 15-year period has been steady, and mirrors an increase in motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries across the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a national increase from 2,334 motorcycle deaths in 1998 to 5,080 fatalities in 2012. State officials are looking for ways to decrease the number of motorcycle accidents and increase motorcyclists’ safety on Tennessee roadways.

Before finding a way to resolve the rise in deaths due to motorcycle accidents, it is crucial to find the potential root causes for this staggering increase in fatalities. According to the United States Department of Transportation, a surge in motorcycle registrations since 1997 may provide information as to why more people are getting into motorcycle accidents. From 1997 to 2006, motorcycle registrations in the U.S. rose by 75 percent. With a greater number of motorcycles traveling on U.S. roadways, more collisions are likely.

Distracted driving

New advances in technology over the past 15 years have added another cause of motorcycle accidents. reports that distracted drivers were responsible for the deaths of 3,328 people in 2012. Distracted driving auto accidents injured over 421,000 people that same year. Motorists, who use their cellphones, program their navigation devices or change the DVDs in their cars’ entertainment center while driving, may fail to acknowledge smaller motorcyclists riding alongside them. Improper turns and failure to yield are just a few ways that distracted driving can result in a devastating motorcycle crash.

A 48-year-old Kansas motorist admitted to engaging in distractive activities while driving, which may have caused him to hit an elderly man who was riding his motorcycle. According to Kansas First News, the driver was operating a pickup truck and attempting to change a CD when he collided with the motorcyclist, who was killed as a result of the accident.

Failure to yield

Failure to yield is another common cause of deadly motorcycle accidents. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that a biker was hit by a vehicle that was attempting to make a turn. The motorcyclist was thrown onto the hood of another vehicle waiting at a stop sign and later died. The motorist was given a citation for failing to yield to the motorcycle, but did not receive any criminal charges.

Due to an increased number of motorcycles on national and state roadways, as well as a growing number of motorcycle fatalities, many state and national organizations, including the NHTSA, have developed campaigns designed to bring awareness to this deadly problem.