Milwaukee, WI – Motorcyclists are key to reversing skyrocketing fatality rates, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said today during a visit to Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, her first public event since being sworn in as the nation's 15th Secretary of Transportation.
Peters, an avid motorcyclist, said riders should take safety classes, ensure they have the proper license, and wear their helmets. 'Motorcyclists have the power to reduce this alarming trend,' Peters added.
The Secretary said she was concerned by the fact that motorcycle fatalities have increased 115 percent during the past 8 years, from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,553 in 2005. She added that although motorcycles account for only 2 percent of all vehicles on the road, they now represent more than 10 percent of all traffic-related fatalities.
Saying more must be done about motorcycle safety, Peters noted the Department is working with the transportation community, including state and local governments, to find new ways to make our roads as safe as possible and, for the first time, has awarded millions of dollars in grants to help riders navigate more safely and to make other motorists on the road more aware.
The Secretary urged motorcyclists to obtain proper licenses, to drive sober, and to know how to ride safely when other vehicles are around. She added that other motorists also needed to do a better job being aware of motorcyclists. And she praised companies like Harley-Davidson for their leadership in motorcycle safety and education programming and their effort to make sure bikes are properly maintained.
Peters said riders also should wear a helmet, noting that if every rider did, over 700 lives would be saved every year. Peters, who always wears a helmet, told reporters she refuses 'to ride with anyone who doesn't', adding that only 58 percent of Americans who ride motorcycles wear helmets today, which is down 13 percent from 2000.
Secretary Peters was accompanied by the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Nicole Nason.