Motorcycle deaths during Bike Week fall to historic low

Motorcyclists have slammed into utility poles driving at 45 mph. They've drifted into oncoming traffic on busy State Road 40. They sometimes just lose control and are thrown from their bikes.

Close to 500 people have died in motorcycle accidents between 2005 and 2015 in Volusia and Flagler counties, and more than one-third of those accidents occurred during the area's two major biking events, a News-Journal analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows.

 

For years, the massive influx of motorcycle riders during Bike Week and Biketoberfest have bedeviled roads with higher death tolls. Early Sunday morning a woman motorcyclist died in an accident in Daytona Beach, and on Saturday a man was killed and three others injured on Interstate 4 after two motorcycles collided. But in recent years, motorcycle fatalities have been on the decline, falling to a 10-year low in 2015, the data shows. Industry groups, police officers and transportation researchers agree the decrease is a good thing, but no one can explain, with certainty, why.

Law enforcement officials believe the obvious explanation is shrinking crowd size.

"It's declined since the 2003 and 2005 period, significantly," said Joseph Frost, a deputy with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office who has patrolled the north end of the county since 2003 on the motorcycle unit. His coverage area takes in Destination Daytona and other popular venues. In the heyday, he said traffic would stall on U.S. Highway 1 as far back as West Granada Boulevard
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