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Subject: ACTION: Motorcycle Travel Data Date: January 30, 2007
From: (Original Signed by)
Mr. J. Richard Capka
Administrator, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) (Original Signed by)
Ms. Nicole R. Nason,
Administrator, National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Refer To: HPPI-20
DWinter x64631
To: FHWA Division Administrators
NHTSA Regional Administrators

Motorcycle fatalities and the related fatality rate have been significantly increasing over the last 10 years. This has become a serious safety issue for NHTSA and FHWA. Between 1996 and 2005, motorcyclist fatalities increased more than 110 percent and now account for more than 10 percent of all motor vehicle traffic crash fatalities. Over this period, motorcycle registrations increased 61 percent, while the reported Vehicle Miles of Travel (VMT) for motorcycles increased only 8.6 percent, resulting in a 94 percent increase in the motorcycle fatality rate. Since fatality rates based on VMT are the best measure of exposure risk for motor vehicle crashes, it is critical that FHWA receive accurate, complete, and timely VMT data to determine accurate crash rates and to monitor trends. These VMT data (and particularly motorcycle VMT) have been the discussion of recent Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS) Reassessment workshops documented in the HPMS Reassessment Safety Issue Paper.

As many of you know, motorcycles are one of the 13 vehicle types monitored by each State's vehicle classification program. These programs are the source of the annual travel data reported by States in the HPMS ("Travel Activity by Vehicle Type" form). Currently, the reporting of motorcycle VMT data in HPMS is optional and consequently, many States choose not to report it. We appreciate the efforts of those States that already are reporting this data, and encourage all States to report these data as part of their 2006 HPMS submittal in June 2007. The reporting of motorcycle travel will be required for all States beginning with the 2007 HPMS data reported in June 2008.

The quality of motorcycle travel data is important and we encourage States to develop their vehicle classification programs to ensure quality data for this vehicle type without sacrificing other vehicle classification data. Given the recent trends, there is an immediate need for an accurate measure of motorcycle travel to more clearly determine nationwide crash rates, which will enable us to confidently illustrate trends, to assess impacts of Federal programs, and to perform safety analysis to identify future emphasis areas. We are confident States will provide quality data that truly reflect motorcycle travel in their State as they fully develop this component of their vehicle classification program considering the guidance in the FHWA Traffic Monitoring Guide.

Federal funding for collecting these data is currently available from the Statewide Planning and Research (SPR) program and from NHTSA's Section 408 State Traffic Safety Information System Improvement Grant funds, provided it is included in the Section 408 Strategic Plan.

Please discuss this immediate and critical data need with your State traffic and HPMS staff to assure that these data, if available, are submitted in 2007, and to provide necessary resources and priority for reporting in 2008. Information on funding and technical assistance is available from the following individuals:

HPMS questions:
David Winter at 202-366-4631

Traffic Data Collection questions:
Ralph Gillmann at 202-366-5042

Highway Safety Improvement Program questions:
Robert Pollack at 202-366-5019

NHTSA Safety Program Funding questions
Jack Oates at 202-366-2730

Crash Data Collection Program questions
Dennis Utter at 202-366-5351

We appreciate your continued support of the highway safety programs in your State and look forward to receiving motorcycle travel data in 2007.

Cc: FHWA Directors of Field Services

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David Winter
Office of Highway Policy Information
E-mail David

Updated: 04/15/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration