Although it was a welcome trend, it was short-lived.
A spokesperson for one Los Angeles area police department noted in a recent media article on motorcycle accident statistics in California that, while bike-related fatalities had plummeted significantly in recent years, that salutary development could not sustain itself over time.
In fact, a sharp increase in motorcyclists' deaths was again a sad reality in the state by 2012. Bike fatalities during that year exceeded those that occurred during 2011 by 23 percent. And the fatality rate rose the subsequent year as well, with the California Office of Traffic Safety reporting that 453 motorcyclists died on California roads during 2013. That is the most recent year for which relevant statistics are available.
And it's not just motorcycle crashes that worry state and local regulatory officials. Their alarm is amply evidenced by the $98 million-plus they reportedly spent on road safety initiatives across California in 2013.
Broad-based safety efforts -- ranging from infrastructure improvements and stronger police enforcement campaigns to public education programs and driver training programs -- are clearly needed, given reports showing that fatal traffic crashes are a dire and persistent problem on state roadways.
In addition to the rise in motorcycle fatalities in the state in 2013, other types of fatal accidents, too, trended upward. Three thousand people reportedly died in road crashes in California that year, with fatalities spiking higher in many categories from the immediately preceding year. Fatal outcomes in drunk driving crashes were up, and both pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities were sharply higher.
Notwithstanding ongoing safety enhancements that are being progressively incorporated in newer model vehicles, adverse collision outcomes continue to result in high numbers across the state and nationally.
That is simply tragic. Driving is truly an endeavor that demands constant vigilance. We implore all our readers to take care when behind the wheel or when walking or riding a bike anywhere near traffic.