Of all of the vehicles on American roads, only 3% are motorcycles — but in Florida, we see a huge portion of them.
From 2013-2014, total U.S. motorcycle sales rose 3.8% — almost half a million sales, according to Statista.com. California ranked highest for motorcycle registrations with almost 800,000 in 2013, bringing total registrations for California motorcycles to 8.4 million that year. Florida came in second with just over half a million new registrations in 2013, but it’s nowhere near the top of the list as far as per capita ownership is concerned. According to the Motley Fool, that distinction goes to South Dakota, which, with 69,284 motorcycles and 816,598 people, boasts 12 people for every bike. Florida is 24th on the list with 574,176 motorcycles for 18,838,613 people, giving us 33 people for each motorcycle.
While motorcycles make up such a small part of the total vehicles on the road and account for only 0.7% of the actual miles traveled, the Federal Highway Administration reports that motorcycle fatalities account for 15% of all vehicle-related deaths. As motorcycle ownership accelerated in recent years, the rate of increase in motorcycle-related fatalities has eclipsed it.
After Florida’s helmet law was repealed in 2000, fatalities in the state related to motorcycle accidents doubled within eight years. By 2013, for every 10,000 registered motorcycles in Florida, the number of fatal crashes had increased by 21%. By contrast, California, which has 1 motorcycle for every 47 people, passed a universal helmet law in 1992, and saw a 40.3% decrease in motorcycle fatalities in the following 2 years.
We hope that emerging new technologies will help make motorcycle riding safer. And as it becomes safer, we’ll likely see more people getting interested in learning to ride. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, female motorcycle riders increased by 52% between the years 2003-2008. While only 8% of the motorcycles in the country were owned by women in 1998, now that number is over 14%. What’s more, the Women’s International Motorcycle Association, founded in 1950, has seen a 33% increase in membership since 2014.
There’s no doubt that more motorcycles are on the road these days, with thousands more on the way. To make us all more aware of the many motorcycles sharing America’s roads, a national tradition began in 1992 that is proudly dubbed “Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day.” The event demonstrates to politicians and the general public the number of motorcyclists in local communities; that motorcyclists are from all occupations and all walks of life; that motorcycles can reduce traffic and parking congestion in large cities; that motorcycles are for transportation as well as recreation; and that ultimately, motorcycling is a social good. If you want to represent, put Monday, June 20 on your calendar, and keep riding safely.