Unlicensed Motorcyclists Die at High Rates in New York


Motorcycle fatalities on the streets of New York have increased so far this year – and the majority of fatalities are unlicensed and use unregistered vehicles, city officials said on Tuesday.

After doubling from 25 to 51 between 2019 and 2020, motorcycle rider deaths have remained high in the first nine months of 2021, Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman said in a city council watch hearing.

Of those deaths, 75 percent of the victims were “not properly authorized,” Gutman said. About 70% drove unregistered motorcycles or bicycles with an “unknown registration”.

“A lot of these accidents didn’t even involve other motor vehicles,” Gutman said. “They were the result of drivers speeding up and losing control, often hitting a stationary object.”

Passers-by watch paramedics and FDNY members attend to an injured motorcyclist at the corner of East 17th Street and Park Avenue South, near Union Square.
Sipa USA via AP

“The proliferation of new forms of motor vehicles, although something we applaud and praise as an alternative to private automobile use, raises safety and regulatory issues that we must address,” he said. he added, in reference to the recent boom in electric motorcycles of varying legality after the state legalized e-bikes and electric scooters in early 2020.

The city had recorded 43 motorcycle deaths this year as of September 30 – at about “the same rate” as in 2020, a DOT spokesperson said.

But the deaths do not only affect motorcyclists, but also pedestrians and occupants of standard motor vehicles, according to statistics from the NYPD.

Gutman admitted that the dire numbers defied the goal of his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pledge in 2014 “Vision Zero” to reduce the number of road fatalities to zero in a decade.

A rider rides a convertible on a motorcycle along Atlantic Avenue in the 75th Borough of the East New York neighborhood, in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York, the United States, on Sunday, September 19, 2021. During the Fiscal 2020, New York City police logged more overtime than any other major city in the United States, and violent crime rates have risen further.
Transportation Commissioner Hank Gutman said the majority of fatal accident victims “did not have a proper license.”
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“There is no doubt that this has been a very difficult, I would say disappointing year for Vision Zero,” said Gutman. “We have seen changes in driver behavior and in crash patterns that echoed across the country. It is not unique to New York. We checked with others. It’s a national trend. “

Gutman said drivers with suspended licenses are a particular problem, citing Tyrik Mott, who was arrested in September for killing a 3-month-old and injuring his parents in a wrong way hit and run.

“The driver was operating with a suspended license. He had a long criminal record. He shouldn’t have been on the road, his car shouldn’t have been on the road, ”he said. “These suspensions often have no effect on drivers and they get out and drive betting they won’t get caught.”


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