Motorcycle Safety Patrols 2020


Mark Medalen, WA Traffic Safety Commission,, 360-280-8008

Motorcycle safety patrols begin July 10

OLYMPIA, WA — More motorcycles travel on Washington’s roads in the summer months than any other time of the year. Unfortunately, summer is also the time when more motorcycle riders are killed or injured in crashes. In an effort to reduce these crashes, increased motorcycle safety patrols start July 10, and run through July 26 in Pierce, King, Snohomish, Clark, Yakima, and Spokane Counties.

The patrols will focus on illegal driving behaviors by both motorcycle riders and other vehicle drivers. Approximately 25 law enforcement agencies in these counties, including the Washington State Patrol, will be working overtime focused on drivers and riders who commit traffic safety violations.

In 2019, 92 motorcycle riders died in crashes on Washington’s roads. This was the highest number of motorcycle rider fatalities in our state since 1982. Through June of this year, 36 motorcycle riders have died in crashes on Washington’s roads.

“Motorcyclists are over-represented in fatal crashes,” said WTSC Acting Director Pam Pannkuk. “These crashes are preventable.”

These patrols are part of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission’s (WTSC) motorcycle safety education campaign known as “It’s a Fine Line.” From 2015 through 2019, motorcycles made up just 3 percent of the registered vehicles on Washington’s roads, but accounted for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities (407 of 2,659). Of these fatal motorcycle crashes, more than half were single motorcycle crashes where no other vehicle was involved, and 75 percent were traced to causal factors committed by the motorcyclist. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs and alcohol, speeding, and failure to negotiate curves or running off the road are the main contributing factors in all motor vehicle deaths including motorcycles.

“Each summer in our state, we lose 35-40 people to motorcycle crashes, and that’s not acceptable,” Pannkuk added. “We must all travel responsibly so that everyone arrives home safely.”

The WTSC and participating law enforcement agencies condemn profiling. Trained and commissioned law enforcement officers will be conducting these patrols enforcing traffic violations as defined by Washington State laws.

For training videos and other information on the “It’s A Fine Line” motorcycle safety program in Washington, please visit
These and all extra law enforcement patrols are part of Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. For more information, visit Additional information on the Washington Traffic Safety Commission can be found on the website,


Data from Washington’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, Target Zero:

Year Total Traffic Fatalities Motorcycle Fatalities Percentage of Total
2013 436 73 17%
2014 462 69 15%
2015 551 75 14%
2016 536 81 15%
2017 565 80 14%
Totals 2,550 378 15%

The federal government estimates that, per vehicle mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles is over 26 times the number in cars.

In the last five years (2013-2017) in Washington, an average of 76 motorcyclists died each year.

The common belief that most motorcycle crashes are caused by other motorists is inaccurate. In actuality, 75% of all fatalities are due to motorcycle rider error. When we break this down by type of motorcycle, sport bikes are overrepresented — 86% of their fatalities were rider-caused.

Impairment by drugs and/or alcohol, speeding, and improper passing are the major risk factors for most serious injury and fatal motorcycle crashes.

Washington is using education for both motorcycle operators and other vehicle drivers, as well as a focus on training and licensing endorsement, to address motorcycle fatalities and serious injuries.

Motorcycle riders involved in fatal and serious injury crashes are primarily male, comprising 90% of the fatalities during 2013–2017.

Currently, motorcycles may be purchased and registered in Washington without a valid motorcycle endorsement. This contributed to the fact that from 2013–2017, over 1/3 of riders involved in fatal crashes were not endorsed to be riding a motorcycle.

Washington deadly crash data is available by state and county here.

For journalists on word choice: A “crash” happens when a vehicle collides with another object. Using the word “accident” assumes it was a bizarre occurrence that no one could have stopped, when in fact the circumstances leading up to 90 percent of car crashes are predictable and preventable. WTSC is seeing and hearing “crash” in the news more often lately and wants to thank those journalists who are already making this insightful choice.