Utah Motorcycle Deaths Hit Record High

More motorcycle riders than ever have died in Utah in 2008.

Motorcycle deaths hit a record low in 1997 in the U.S., but the number of deaths has reached record highs both nationally and in Utah since then.

More than two months before the end of the year, 32 riders have already died in Utah. That’s nine more than the average of 23 deaths a year in Utah over the past decade.

More bikes are on the road — probably because of rising gas prices — and so the chances for accidents go up too, said motorcycle rider and state Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville.

“If you put more on the road, then there’s more chances for accidents,” Brown said.

There are more registered motorcycles now than 10 years ago and the number of fatalities per motorcycle has increased, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

In 1998, there were 59 deaths for each 100,000 registered bikes. In 2006, that number had increased to 72.

Troy Roper, who got a traumatic brain injury after a 2005 motorcycle crash, said he thinks bikes are getting faster and riders are getting less training before they hit the road.

“Some of these bikes go really fast, and if you’ve got the money, you can go ride,” he said.

As the motorcycle death rate has gone up, the rates of all other motor-vehicle deaths have been improving in Utah and the nation.

Overall motor-vehicle deaths have dropped even though there are more cars and trucks on the road. Fatalities involving impaired drivers, teen drivers and rollovers also have fallen.