Press Release - 5-5-2021

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021 



Motorcycle Crash Fatalities Rose 35 Percent from 2019 to 2020

GTSC Launches Public Awareness Campaign to Promote Safety

May Marks National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today held a press event at the Alfred E. Smith State Office Building in Albany to mark the start of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and urged safety in the wake of an alarming spike in motorcycle crashes and fatalities. According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) at the University at Albany's Rockefeller College, fatal motorcycle crashes were up more than 30 percent in 2020 over the previous year, and fatalities increased nearly 35 percent from 2019 to 2020, based on preliminary 2020 data.

ITSMR data shows that there were 132 fatal crashes that killed 133 people in 2019 compared to 172 fatal crashes that killed 179 people in 2020.  So far this year, there has been one fatality and more than 40 reported injuries in just the first few weeks of riding season.

“Despite fewer vehicles on the road last year, we saw a startling increase in deadly motorcycle crashes, and every life lost was someone’s loved one,” said GTSC Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Everyone sharing the road whether in a car or on a motorcycle has a responsibility to help stop these tragedies. As the weather warms up and we continue making progress battling COVID-19, there will be more traffic and more riders, so stay alert, avoid distractions, and never, ever drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Motorcycle riders continue to be overrepresented in fatal traffic crashes. In 2020 alone, motorcycle crash fatalities represented 18 percent of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in New York. To promote important motorcycle safety tips for riders and motorists, GTSC is using targeted advertisements online. It is also placing important safety messages at more than 150 gas stations in New York. They will be affixed to fuel pump toppers and nozzle handles throughout the riding season. GTSC also promotes motorcycle safety tips on its website.

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is utilizing television and radio to promote safety as the riding season begins, to support the State’s ongoing public awareness efforts.

New York was the first state to mandate wearing a motorcycle helmet, and for more than 20 years, New York has had a rider-funded motorcycle safety training and awareness program known as the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program (NYSMSP). The program uses a nationally recognized motorcycle training curriculum, developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The courses teach effective turning, braking maneuvers, tips to avoid obstacles, strategies in traffic, how to select appropriate protective apparel and vehicle maintenance. Motorcyclists can find a training course near them by visiting

Motorcycle Safety Foundation program manager Ben Zadrozny said, “To all motorcyclists, get trained and licensed; always wear full protective gear including a DOT approved helmet; never ride under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; ride within your own skill limits; be a lifelong learner. To all car, truck and SUV roadway users, look for motorcycles; never tailgate a motorcycle; use your turn signals; please don't drive distracted!”

About GTSC
Combined with education and enforcement campaigns, GTSC coordinates various traffic safety activities throughout the year, and supports ongoing initiatives to improve pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle safety. The GTSC also sponsors critical training for law enforcement, provides resources for teen drivers and their parents, and promotes seatbelt use statewide.

For more information about traffic safety in New York State, please visit the GTSC website at