The modern bikes are just enticing us to push them to the limits, but the motorcycle accident statistics advise us not to. So, where is the limit, and where should we stop?
Let’s face it, motorcyclists were never in the safest driver category, not even close. Yet, if you ask any biker, he wouldn’t trade his bike for the fanciest car in the world. It’s more a way of life than a transport vehicle, and people who own motorcycles love them. And when love is in question, we tend to go overboard sometimes.
Important Motorcycle Crash Statistics (Editor’s Picks)
- Only 3% of the total number of registered vehicles are motorcycles, but they are involved in 13% of all fatal accidents
- More than half of all motorcycle fatalities are middle-aged men
- Approximately 88% of all motorcycle fatalities happen during good weather
- About 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in injury
- 42% of all accidents between motorcycles and cars occur when vehicles in front make left-hand turns
- Approximately 37% of motorcycle accidents with fatalities are single-vehicle crashes
Interesting Motorcycle Safety Statistics
1. Although motorcycles constitute just 3% of the total registered vehicles, they are involved in 13% of all fatal accidents.
(Statista), (IIHS), (NHTSA)
Out of 273.6 million motor vehicles registered in the US, 8.3 million are motorcycles, and out of 36,650 people who died in a vehicle accident in 2018, 4,985 were riding motorcycles. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists had 27 times more chances to die than passenger car occupants, compared to the total vehicle miles traveled.
2. Motorcycle fatality statistics show that 27% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes were alcohol-impaired.
That’s higher than any other type of vehicle driver. For instance, 21% of passenger car drivers and 3% of heavy truck drivers had elevated blood alcohol levels. What’s more, 43% of drivers in fatal single-vehicle and motorcycle crashes were alcohol-impaired.
Drinking and driving is never a good idea, especially when a person is supposed to use his body balance to steer the vehicle.
3. Motorcyclists’ death rates have increased by 15% in the last ten years.
(Insurance Information Institute)
Motorcycle death statistics show a disturbing increasing trend. From 21.46 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled in 2009, the death rates rose to 24.83 in 2018. That may not sound like a lot, but still, it is a 15% increase. Moreover, the fact that it happened during a fast evolution in bike safety features makes the results look even worse.
4. Motorcycle accident death statistics reveal that the number of fatalities on large motorcycles has increased 121 times in the last three decades.
(Insurance Information Institute)
There were only five fatalities in 1990 which couldn’t even get featured on the percentage list. In 1991, there were 13 fatalities where big bikes (above 1,400cc) were involved, constituting just 1% of the total motorcycle fatalities in that year. By 2018, that number rose to a whopping 1582, making 34% of all motorcycle fatalities.
5. More than half of all motorcycle fatalities are males above 40.
Motorcycle accident reports indicate that 51% of all motorcycle fatalities in 2008 and 53% in 2017 were males above 40. There are many explanations for that, but the main ones are that the human body becomes less flexible as we grow old, thus reducing our ability to steer. The second reason is that there is more chance for a minor injury to become complicated as we grow older.
6. Three states account for about 30% of all motorcyclist’s lives lost in 2017.
A closer look at the motorcycle accident statistics by state reveals that out of 4,798 motorcyclists who died in 2017, 504 happened in Florida, 491 in Texas, and 406 in California. That’s 1,401 in total. On the other side of the table is Alaska, with only six fatalities.
The Sun Belt states have always had the highest numbers because motorcycling and good weather are closely intertwined.
7. The estimated annual cost of motorcycle crashes and injuries is $12.8 billion.
Although the motorcycle accident statistics for 2020 aren’t conclusive yet, the increased accident rates of almost all vehicle types show that sum is likely to be even higher.
The costs include emergency services, different medical expenses, rehabilitation, property damage, loss in market and household productivity, defense attorneys, insurance costs, etc.
Although often considerable, the damage that the vehicle suffers is trivial compared to the expenses that follow.
Motorcycle vs. Car Accident Statistics
8. Approximately 94% of motorcycle fatalities are male, compared to 65% in car crashes.
(Business Standard), (Department for Transport), (IIHS)
This can be attributed to the fact that motorcycling is more popular with men. But we can’t neglect the fact that although males are a large majority in cruising and sport motorcycling, an estimated 35% of scooter drivers are females.
In addition. one scientific study showed that women are more likely to wear helmets, avoid drinking while driving, and the percentage of motorcycle accidents proves they are generally less likely to get into risky situations.
9. Approximately 29% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2017 were without valid motorcycle licenses, compared to 13% of car drivers without a car driver’s license.
A valid motorcycle license means that a rider has a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement or motorcycle-only license. However, many motorcycle drivers are not aware that a car driver’s license doesn’t allow them to drive a motorcycle.
10. According to the motorcycle safety statistics, 32% of all motorcycle drivers involved in fatal accidents were speeding, compared to 18% of all passenger car drivers.
This percentage goes even lower for light and heavy truck drivers, 14% and 7% respectively. The simple explanation is that motorcycles are powerful and lightweight. They can accelerate two or three times faster than a car. Therefore, people have to be experienced to restrain the power and acceleration that motorcycles provide.
11. Approximately one-third of both motorcycles and car accidents with fatalities were single-vehicle crashes.
Although some conclusive data on how many motorcycle deaths there were in 2020 is not available yet, the last available data can shed some light. Despite popular belief, motorcyclists are not more likely to lose control of their vehicles compared to other drivers.
Out of all fatal motorcycle accidents in 2018, 37% were single-vehicle crashes, compared to 36% passenger cars. Does this mean that motorcycle drivers are more cautious or that car drivers are less careful, considering that the car is much easier to steer and control?
Why Are Motorcycle Crash Statistics So Specific?
Driving a motorcycle is a specific form of transport because the driver is steering with his whole body, shifting his body weight to balance the bike. Also, in a car, we have a protective cage, crumple zones, and airbags to protect the passengers.
Motorcycles have none of that. And although much has been achieved in active and passive motorcycle safety, there is still much to be done. The biggest problem that engineers have is that it’s incredibly hard to predict how the body will move in an accident.
12. Motorcycle accident rates indicate that 88% of all fatalities occurred during good weather.
(National Safety Council)
What is more, 52% of them happened during daylight. Unlike cars, where the weather is an important factor, motorcycles are mostly involved in accidents when the weather and visibility are good. That is understandable because there aren’t many motorcyclists out on the roads in bad weather.
13. 42% of all accidents between motorcycles and cars happen when cars in front make left-hand turns.
A closer look at the statistics on motorcycle accidents reveals that this is a hazardous situation for motorcyclists. Due to their small size, they are less visible on the road. Usually, the turning car hits the motorcycle when the motorcycle goes straight through a crossroad and passes or overtakes the vehicle.
14. Looking good is important to cruiser motorcycle riders, even though only 7% increased visibility is an important factor when buying driving clothes.
Even though most of them are fully aware that increased visibility would reduce the number of motorcycle accidents per year, the riders of cruise, sport, and touring motorcycles don’t want to trade looking cool for safety. They believe bright colors would ruin their appearance.
On the other hand, 86% of scooter riders believe safety comes first when choosing clothes. That could be explained by the widespread view that scooters are a means of transport and big bikes are a way of life. For instance, cruiser riders take pride that their leather jackets are decades old and wouldn’t even think to trade them for a brightly colored vest.
15. Motorcycle injury statistics show that approximately 80% of all motorcycle crashes result in some sort of injury.
As we have mentioned, with no protective cage around the motorcyclist, even the most benign accident or a fall can cause serious injuries. For instance, truck drivers have the least number of injuries compared to the number of crashes because they have a large amount of metal protecting them.
What to do to Improve the Numbers Regarding Motorcycle Accident Statistics
16. Only 19 states in the US have mandatory helmet laws.
Overall, road safety could be significantly improved if all the states would implement mandatory helmet laws. It would reduce the possibility of head injury, which accounts for many motorcyclists’ lives lost. The officials estimate that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a fatality crash by 37%.
17. Mandatory ABS could reduce the percentage of motorcycle riders who crash up to 42%
A study done in Europe compared the number of crashes and injuries with motorcycles of the same make with, and without ABS.
The researchers concluded that the motorcycles equipped with ABS reduce chances of collision and injury from 22% to 42%, depending on the country and motorcycle size. In Europe, ABS is mandatory on all motorcycles produced after 2016.
18. NHTSA estimates that helmets have prevented, on average, 1,560 motorcycle deaths per year since 2002.
(National Safety Council)
According to the officials, in the last 15 years, the total number of lives saved by helmets is 25,000. The number for 2017 alone is 1,872 saved lives. And although this sounds great, it’s somewhat diminished by the assessment that 802 more lives could have been saved, if every motorcyclist had worn a helmet.
19. Airbags and airbag vests can improve motorcycle fatality rate, as they can reduce head trauma injuries by 83%
(Davis Law Firm)
Honda, the world-famous motorcycle manufacturer and a pioneer in motorcycle safety, conducted a series of tests and concluded that airbags reduce forward momentum during a crash by up to 63% and head trauma possibility by 83%.
Unfortunately, there are limited studies on airbag vests, but it is undoubtedly better to have one on when hitting the asphalt, a common crash in motorcycling.
20. More than 50% of all motorcycle accidents involve riders who had less than five months of experience on the particular model they were using.
The motorcycle accident statistics indicate that experience with one model doesn’t imply you will be able to handle every other motorcycle, especially when the difference in size and power is substantial.
It’s always best to spend some time getting to know your new ride in a controlled space before taking it on the open road.
The current trend is that people skip several categories when making a purchase. For instance, they go directly from a scooter to a sportbike or a cruiser, which require a completely different way of driving.
When thinking about driving a motorcycle, how many of us think first about motorcycle accident stats? Wind in hair, freedom, winding mountain roads, and open plains first come to mind when motorcycles are mentioned.
And it’s completely understandable. Which one had ever looked at a bike in some magazine and thought: “Man, I would ride this thing so safely?” Even people who don’t own bikes feel the same. But that shouldn’t be an excuse. Everyone should try to be more careful.
People Also Ask
Let’s consider the fact that the US had 8,715,204 registered motorcycles and around 89,000 motorcycle injuries in 2017.
Therefore, we can conclude that roughly 1% of motorcycle drivers suffer a driving injury each year. Thus, the number of motorcycle accidents and injuries is approximately the same because more than 80% of them result in injuries.
Compared to the total miles driven, a motorcyclist is 28 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than a car driver. As far as the odds are concerned, the National Safety Council calculated that you have 1 in 890 odds of dying in a motorcycle crash.
To put things in perspective, you have 1 to 1,112 odds of drowning and 1 in 541 chance of dying in a car-pedestrian incident. Number one and two on the lists are heart disease and cancer, with 1 to 6 and 1 to 7 odds.
On the basis of confirmed statistics for the last ten-year period, there were 48,739 motorcycle accident fatalities. The average is 4,874.
Sadly, the statistics do not show a declining trend, and the numbers for each particular year in this period vary several hundred up or down from the average.
The drivers most in danger of suffering an accident are the ones older than 40 and driving big motorcycles above 1,000cc.
Approximately 57% of all fatal motorcycle crashes were collisions with other motor vehicles in transport. The main problem is that motorcyclists are not visible enough to other drivers.
As a result, most accidents happen when a motorcycle tries to overtake a car and when cars in front of a bike want to make left-hand turns. The second most common type of accident (23%) is a collision with a fixed object, mostly after drivers lose control of the motorcycle.
More than half of all motorcycle accidents happen on principal and minor arterial roadways. Just 9% of the accidents occur on the interstate and 5% on highways. The simple explanation is that there aren’t many left-hand turns on these kinds of roads.
Also, 65% of all motorcycle accidents happen in urban areas and at road intersections, as the most dangerous spots for motorcyclists.
Motorcycle drivers are 28 times more likely to suffer a fatal crash than car drivers. They are, next to pedestrians and bicycle drivers, the most endangered driver category.
Driving a motorcycle requires a particular set of skills, and more than 50% of motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle crashes caused mostly by loss of control.
The frightening fact is that there were 8,666,185 registered motorcycles and 86,000 injuries in 2018. That means that one in 100 motorcyclists suffers a driving injury each year.
Approximately 32% of all motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were speeding, compared to 18% of car drivers speeding.
But it appears that, contrary to popular belief, a large majority of motorcycle crashes happen at relatively low speed. According to one study conducted on 900 motorcycle crashes, a median pre-accident speed was 29.8 mph.
The average speed at the time of the impact was 21.5 mph. Motorcycle accident statistics show that only one out of every thousand accidents happened at the average speed of 86mph and more.