The Arkansas Highway Safety Office (AHSO) is developing a statewide plan of action and has initiated components for a motorcycle safety program to increase public awareness, support rider education and through enforcement and PI&E efforts reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities and injuries. Arkansas is one of three states that does not have a statewide motorcycle safety program. The AHSO, in order to address the increase in motorcycle crashes and fatalities, received authorization from the Governor to designate the AHSO as the State authority having jurisdiction over motorcyclist safety issues. This was the first and most important step towards Arkansas’ efforts to focus on and develop a statewide motorcycle safety program.
Arkansas reported 70 motorcycle related fatalities in 2009. This is a significant increase from the 63 motorcycle fatalities reported in 2004. Motorcycle fatalities currently account for approximately 12 percent of Arkansas’ total traffic fatalities.
The 5-year moving average clearly shows the upward trend in motorcycle fatalities with a slight decrease in 2008. However, preliminary state data shows fatalities on the rise again at 70 for 2009. There were 357 motorcycle involved traffic fatalities in Arkansas during the 5-year period from 2005-2009. In 1999 the motorcycle helmet law was repealed in Arkansas, requiring that only person(s) under the age of 21 wear protective headgear and that year motorcycle fatalities were 23. Motorcycle fatalities in the years following the change in the law have tripled. Arkansas reported 1,504 motorcycle involved crashes in 2009.
The table on the next page provides a ranking of the top twenty-five counties in order, from highest to lowest of the number of motorcycle crashes in 2009.
The Arkansas Highway Safety Office recognizes the significance and impact that motorcycle related crashes are having on the overall fatality picture in this State. It has become necessary to implement effective countermeasures to address this growing problem in Arkansas.