By KRISTEN WYATT
Associated Press Writer
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Just having them pass you can be scary _ groups of high-speed motorcyclists darting through traffic at speeds that make even lead-foot drivers wince.
Called "bullet bikes" and "crotch rockets," with the drivers crouching low over the body of the bike, the motorcycles tear down roads at harrowing speeds.
A pair of deadly motorcycle accidents in Maryland over the weekend that left three dead are renewing calls for tougher penalties for speeders. Cycling groups, meantime, say not all riders are to blame.
Full article available here: http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=598&sid=1164331
Ok, now for the lies, damn lies, and statistics part: My brief commentary.
The writer states: "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle fatals in Maryland rose 60 percent, from 53 a year to 85 a year, from 2001 to 2005, the most recent year with available statistics. In Virginia, motorcycle fatals went up 53 percent, from 45 deaths in 2001 to 69 deaths in 2005."
The problem with these figures is we are given percentage increases without any normalization or point of reference. In other words, we are not told whether total miles ridden has increased. If speed-related accidents increased while total motorcycle-miles ridden stayed the same, they would have a case. In fact, if this were true, I'm sure they would say it. I doubt it's the case.
A certain number of motorcycle accidents are going to occur for every 100,000 motorcycle miles ridden. More miles = more accidents. There is no indication whatsoever that illegal riding is to blame in this scenario. Without having some measure of total motorcycle use, we cannot glean anything from these dumbed down statistics about higher numbers of accidents. Or can we?
The author quotes in the very next paragraph: "High-speeding cycles are becoming more common around the region, said Maryland Delegate William Bronrott, D-Montgomery, who says lawmakers should consider stiffening penalties for excessive speeding. Currently, Bronrott said, Maryland law does not allow speeders to be jailed."
First, I wonder if this guy has actually looked at a survey or done a field study to back this up. I seriously doubt it. I doubt he would even know how to scientifically demonstrate that motorcyclists are speeding more frequently than before. Second, maybe we have the answer right here. If there are more motorcycles on the road as a result of the increased number of sportbikes, then the accident rate fits with this usage increase and does not demonstrate an increase in bad riding per se. Also note that Bronrott points the finger at only one roadway user group--motorcyclists. He completely misses an opportunity to suggest better cager training and education, which we all know is severely lacking.
This guy Bonrott hadn't ought to be interviewed for motorcycle stories, and he hadn't ought to be re-elected.