Texas motorcycle deaths increase 17% in 2020, TxDOT says

Photo does not have a caption

HOUSTON – There’s a 17% increase in Texas motorcycle deaths in 2020, compared to 2019, the Texas Department of Transportation said this week.

In 2020, in the 7,481 motorcycle crashes in Texas, 1,856 motorcyclists were seriously injured and 482 were killed, the agency explained. On average, TxDOT said a motorcyclist is killed in a crash on Texas roads every day.

The increase is especially alarming, according to safety officials with TxDOT, because there was less traffic on the road in 2020, with a 2% reduction in Texas motorcycle crashes.

Motorcyclists account for 12% of all traffic fatalities statewide, TxDOT said.

The state agency released the information in the kickoff of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and the agency’s “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign to call attention to the safety precautions motorists can take to protect motorcyclists and themselves.

“May through October is an especially dangerous period for motorcyclists in Texas,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Of all the motorcyclist deaths in Texas during 2020, more than 61% happened in that period. It’s so important to remember that these motorcyclists don’t have the same protections that drivers in vehicles have, and that’s why we’re urging all motorists to stay watchful and alert when traveling alongside motorcycles so everyone can reach their destination safely.”

The Texas Transportation Institute reports that fatal crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur when drivers misjudge the motorcycle’s distance and speed and make left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist. Last year, almost one-third of Texas motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related. TTI also points to driver inattention as a contributing factor to motorcycle crashes.

TxDOT has these safety tips for drivers to protect motorcyclists and prevent crashes:

  • Take extra care when making a left turn. It’s safest to let the motorcycle pass to avoid turning in front of the rider.
  • Pay special attention at intersections. Nearly one in three motorcycle fatalities happens at a roadway intersection.
  • Give driving your full attention. Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the radio station, can have deadly consequences.
  • Look twice when changing lanes. Check mirrors, check blind spots, and always use turn signals.
  • Give motorcyclists room when passing them. Move over to the passing lane and don’t crowd the motorcyclist’s full lane.
  • Stay back. If you’re behind a motorcycle, always maintain a safe following distance. When a motorcyclist downshifts instead of applying the brake to slow down, it can catch drivers off guard since there are no brake lights to signal reduced speed.
  • Slow down. Obey posted speed limits and drive to conditions.

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.