NJ records highest number of motorcycle deaths in 15 years
What may be a small inconvenience for a driver on the road can be an extreme hazard for a motorcycle rider.
According to the New Jersey State Police, motorcyclists were involved in 97 fatal crashes throughout New Jersey in 2021 — the highest total recorded since 2006.
Because of the 97 crashes, 99 people lost their lives. That's the highest number since 2006, when 102 individuals, including three pedestrians, lost their lives. The fatality count was as low as 55 in 2018.
The nation as a whole saw more than 5,600 motorcycle fatalities in 2021 — the highest number ever recorded, according to data gathered by QuoteWizard. Motorcycle fatalities are up 22% over the last decade.
"Motorcycling is inherently dangerous. To minimize risk, you have to be aware of it," said Michael Stanley, with Rider Education of New Jersey.
Ninety-four of New Jersey's victims in 2021 were drivers. Four were passengers, and one was a pedestrian, according to NJSP data.
"Driver inattention" and "unsafe speed" were cited as contributing circumstances in 44 of New Jersey's fatal motorcycle crashes in 2021. Rule-breaking such as improper passing and following too closely was a contributor in at least 15 fatal crashes, data show.
"We do have to follow the same rules of the road as a car does, but there are motorcyclists that do take advantage of their size," Stanley said.
RENJ is one of a few not-for-profit operations in New Jersey that specialize in training new and seasoned riders.
According to Central Jersey Rider Training, approximately 20% of people who want to earn a motorcycle license opt for the specific training route, rather than the standard MVC testing process.
While most riders may be aware of common-sense safety tips such as wearing protective gear and never riding while impaired, there are some risks they can't avoid — the actions of other road users.
According to Tom Wright, president of CJRT, motorcycle riders are increasingly contending with distracted drivers on the road.
"When a motorcycle gets hit from behind, you are the airbag," Wright said.
According to QuoteWizard, 22 states posted a higher motorcycle death rate than New Jersey (6.2 per 10,000 motorcycles) in 2021. The U.S. rate was 6.6 per 10,000.