Fatal motorcycle accidents in Tennessee are increasing corresponding with a rise in the number of people being issued motorcycle licenses.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety, the number of motorcycle licenses increased statewide about 5 percent each year between 2003 and 2006. Also increasing were the number of motorcycle-related fatalities — from 88 in 2003 to 140 in 2006.
Capt. Gary Perry of Montgomery County EMS said fatalities might decrease if motorcycle riders were properly trained before buying a bike.
“Anytime you have training, it’s going to be a benefit to you,” Perry said.
Motorcycle accidents tend to be more serious because of lack of protection.
“We notice an increase in the severity of the injuries, even if it’s a mild wreck on a motorcycle,” Perry said. “A lot of patients who have been in a motorcycle wreck — we try to get out of here and fly to Vanderbilt (University Medical Center in Nashville) and get them to a Level 1 trauma center because of head trauma.”
Tia Keese of Appleton Harley-Davidson said the beginning of the year looked bleak for motorcycle sales, as the economy slumped nationwide.
“We felt the squeeze at the beginning of this year — Fort Campbell deployed, and they are our bread and butter,” Keese said.
But when spring hit, everything changed.
“It’s got to be the fuel cost,” Keese said. “Sales started running rampant in the spring.”
Charles Matheson, a motorcyclist for six years, said there are several reasons he went from four wheels to two, including the reduced cost of gas.
“An added incentive was the drop in insurance,” Matheson said. “I paid more annually to insure my full-size pickup than I do to insure my motorcycle.”
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