MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - It’s been a horrible year for Wisconsin motorcycle deaths.
As of Monday, 102 bikers have been killed on state highways – the 4th-deadliest year since 1986.
Officials have mentioned several possible reasons. The mild winter and early fall extended the riding season – and September alone had 21 motorcycle deaths statewide.
There are more bikes on the road – almost 304,000 last year, 74 percent more than in 2000. And many who gave up motorcycling picked it up again, as gas prices moved closer to $4 a gallon. The average age of those killed rose from 30 two decades ago to 48 this year.
State DOT motorcycle safety specialist Greg Patzer says some of it’s due to the older population, and some are biking again after years of not doing so. He says it’s possible that some bikers – and their machines – are rusty.
Speed and alcohol have caused just over a-third of this year’s biker deaths. At least 11 riders died when hitting deer. Only one involved a wet road, in another sign of Wisconsin’s drought.
Last year, 92 percent of those killed on motorcycles were not wearing helmets. But that’s down this year – and it appears to be closer to the average of around 70 percent over the last decade.