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IU study: State’s motorcycle collisions, alcohol-related traffic fatalities on the rise

INDIANAPOLIS — New Indiana University research findings point to a steep increase in the state’s motorcycle collision fatalities, up 28 percent in 2012. There were 158 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities — a 12.9 percent increase from 2011 — and 2,112 injuries linked to alcohol-impaired collisions.

The state’s seatbelt use rate of 93.6 percent in 2012 is 7 percentage points higher than the national average. And seatbelt usage among pickup truck occupants is on the rise at 86.5 percent, up 18 percentage points since 2007.

These data are highlighted in the recently released 2012 Indiana Crash Fact Sheet, a series of reports in which researchers analyze collision data focusing on a variety of traffic-related issues.

Each year, the IU Public Policy Institute’s Center for Criminal Justice Research, in collaboration with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and the Governor’s Council on Impaired & Dangerous Driving, analyzes vehicle crash data from the Automated Reporting Information Exchange System maintained by the Indiana State Police.

“Heading into our eighth year of producing these fact sheets, our research dives into safety concerns across a wide range of categories,” said Samuel Nunn, PPI’s director of criminal justice research. “Equipped with the crash data, Hoosiers can take a closer look at what our research says about the reported collisions, injuries and fatalities while examining their own driving behaviors.”

Here is a sample of the findings for Indiana collisions in 2012:

Driver history and crash outcomes: Of the 290,289 drivers involved in collisions, Hoosier residents accounted for 89 percent, with more than one-third having a history of traffic offenses.

Motorcycles: There were 4,104 collisions involving motorcycles or mo-peds, a 15.6 percent increase from 2011. Fatal motorcycle collisions increased even more steeply by 24.8 percent.

Occupant protection: Of the 516 passenger vehicle occupants killed in Indiana in 2012, 48 percent were wearing seatbelts.

Children: A total of 4,013 children up to age 15 were killed or injured in motor vehicle collisions. About 7 percent of children involved in crashes were killed (29 fatalities) or experienced incapacitating injuries (243).

Dangerous driving: Twelve percent (22,527) of the 188,841 Indiana traffic collisions, and 27 percent of fatal collisions, involved one or more actions defined as dangerous driving: aggressive driving, disregarding a signal or speeding.

Young drivers: There were 40,417 young drivers involved in 37,325 collisions, representing a 5.6 percent annual decline in young driver involvement since 2008. In Indiana, young drivers who took driver education were slightly less likely to have engaged in unsafe driving actions such as following too closely or speeding.

“Our continued partnership with the IU Public Policy Institute’s Center for Criminal Justice Research has helped drive policy and programming decisions over the years at the state and local level. Utilizing these reports has undoubtedly helped lead to the overall reduction in fatalities and serious bodily injuries we’ve seen in Indiana over the last several years,” said Ryan Klitzsch, director of traffic safety at the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

The full reports are available  on the Public Policy Institute website.