BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana highways are getting safer for motorcycle riders. Preliminary data shows there were fewer motorcycle crash deaths in 2014 and even more riders using safety helmets. .
There were 80 motorcycle crash deaths in Louisiana in 2014, a 7 percent drop from 2013, according to preliminary data compiled by the LSU Highway Safety Research Group (HSRG). That compares to a 10.3 percent increase in motorcycle deaths in 2013 when 86 motorcyclists died on Louisiana's roads. With the exception of 2013 and 2009 (when motorcycle deaths had spiked to 104) the number of motorcycle fatalities in Louisiana has been steadily decreasing since 2007.
"For the most part, Louisiana has been making steady improvement in motorcycle safety, and I think we can attribute much of this to a heightened awareness of motorcycles by motorists and increased compliance with the state's mandatory helmet law," said Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Executive Director John LeBlanc.
An annual observational survey in 2014 showed 100 percent of the motorcyclists wearing a helmet, a slight improvement over the previous year. NHTSA estimated nationwide helmet usage for 2013 at 60 percent.
"We were pleased to observe such universal compliance. Still, our 2013 crash data shows 14 percent of the drivers killed were not wearing helmets, despite the overwhelming risk."
LeBlanc also pointed out another critical factor in motorcycle crash deaths: impaired driving. More than one-third of Louisiana's 2014 motorcycle deaths involved alcohol. LeBlanc stressed that Louisiana's impaired driving laws apply to motorcycle drivers, as well.