Whether it’s a long road trip or a short drive across town, riding a motorcycle can be a lot of fun. However, if you get careless, your innocent ride can end in tragedy. Motorcycle accidents tend to be more fatal than car accidents, mainly because the motorcyclist rides out in the open rather than inside a metal cage, so to speak.
That said, don’t let this fact keep you away from the activity you enjoy the most. Instead, learn the dangers associated with riding a motorcycle, and more importantly, tips on how to avoid them and stay safe on the road.
Must-Know Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents
- 4,985 motorcycle riders were killed in accidents in 2018.
- Motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries than car passengers.
- Drunk driving accounts for one out of three life-threatening moto accidents.
- 45% of motorcycle crashes result in more than a minor injury.
- Motorcycle helmets lower the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by almost 50%.
Motorcycle Fatality Rate in the US
1. Motorcycle deaths were the highest in Nevada and the lowest in Alaska in 2016.
Motorcycle deaths accounted for 22.6% of the total motor vehicle fatalities in Nevada and 7.1% in Alaska. Generally speaking, states with plenty of warm weather — where bikers are out riding all year and consequently exposed to more hazards — recorded a higher fatality rate.
2. Males are overrepresented in motorcycle fatalities.
According to motorcycle accident statistics, males account for the majority of motorcycle deaths in all states. That said, female rider fatalities are on the rise in most states. For instance, Connecticut reported a 75% increase in female bikers’ deaths in 2015.
3. The use of motorcycle helmets is much higher in states with a universal helmet law than those without.
This is hardly surprising since a hefty fine discourages bikers to drive without protection. Washington and Tennessee — where wearing a helmet is compulsory for all riders — consistently record over 95% helmet use. In addition, motorcycle accident facts reveal that in New Hampshire — one of the three US states without any sort of helmet law — 50% of bikers drive without a helmet.
4. The average age of a motorcyclist killed in a road accident was 43 in 2016. It’s not just young riders who are overrepresented in motorcycle traffic fatalities. Research shows the 40-and-older age group accounts for over 54% of such deaths in 2016.
Recent Local Motorcycle Accidents
5. 4,985 motorcycle riders were killed in accidents in 2018.
While that’s a drop of nearly 5% on a year-over-year basis, the fact of the matter is motorcyclists continue to be significantly overrepresented in traffic fatalities.
6. Motorcyclists represent just 3% of all registered vehicles but account for 14% of yearly traffic-related deaths.
As we said, motorcycles account for a disproportionate number of traffic deaths.
7. Motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries than car passengers.
According to recent motorcycle accident statistics, bikers carry a far greater risk of serious injury compared to car passengers. That’s mainly because the latter has far more protection, such as airbags and seat belts than the former.
Source: Insurance Information Institute
8. Supersport motorcycle riders have a 4 times higher traffic death rate than drivers of other motorcycles.
Built for racing and modified for roadways, a supersport bike can reach speeds up to 180 mph and are extremely popular among drivers under the age of 30. However, too much power, and the inexperience of many supersport motorcycle riders, makes them incredibly dangerous on the open road.
Major Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
9. 25% of motorcycle deaths occur because of collision with fixed objects.
Running into objects causes nearly a quarter of motorcyclist fatalities, compared to 18% of car crash deaths. However, the fact that such accidents are more dangerous for bikers is not surprising. Since they aren’t protected by a steel frame, they are more likely to get thrown far and hard and sustain deadly injuries.
10. More than 3 out of 10 motorcycle accidents involve one vehicle.
Compared to other drivers, motorcyclists have a considerably higher number of single-vehicle accidents. While 34% of bike crashes involve no other vehicle, only 19% of car crashes are single-vehicle accidents.
11. Nearly two-thirds of single-vehicle motorcycle crashes are caused by the rider’s error.
The majority of these accidents occur because of driving errors such as over breaking or negotiating a curve at high speed, according to the recent motorcycle accident statistics.
12. Around 3% of moto accidents occur because of vehicle failure, such as a flat tire.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) advises bikers to run a quick pre-ride inspection before each ride. To make it easier to remember what to inspect, the MSF came up with the acronym T-CLOCS. It stands for tires and wheels (T), controls (C), lights and electrics (L), oil & other fluids (O), chassis (C), and stands (S).
13. Nearly 75% of all moto accidents involve a collision with another vehicle.
The majority of these multiple vehicle accidents involve passenger vehicles, such as cars. As such, you might be wondering, “what percentage of motorcycle accidents are caused by cars?”
Well, data is not available about this specific point. But what we do know is that in multiple vehicle accidents, more often than not, the other driver is at fault, as revealed by the next statistic.
14. About 67% of multiple-vehicle accidents occur when the other driver violates the biker’s right-of-way.
These crashes often involve other drivers making an improper left turn, pulling up in front of bikers who are heading straight. Arguably, the majority of such motorbike accidents occur because other drivers fail to spot motorcycles in time due to their smaller profiles.
Which begs the question: how can motorcyclists make themselves more visible?
Start with wearing high visibility safety gear and using headlights and reflective tapes. These simple measures can help alert other drivers that you’re out there and considerably reduce the rate of accidents.
15. Drunk driving is responsible for roughly one-third of all fatal motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycles are great fun to ride, but your joy ride can quickly turn ugly if you mix drinking and driving. That’s a deadly combination if ever there was one. Nearly 33% of all dangerous bike accidents show that alcohol is involved.
16. A motorcyclist has less than two seconds to complete all collision avoidance actions in an accident.
Two seconds. That’s hardly enough time when you are sober, let alone inebriated. According to a study focusing on recent motorcycle accidents, bikers driving under the influence exhibit much lower collision avoidance abilities than sober drivers. These bikers tend to overbrake or underbake during a crash, both of which increase the risk of severe injury and ultimately — death.
17. Weather contributes to roughly 2% of all moto accidents.
Negligence, not bad weather, causes the bulk of bike accidents. Nevertheless, motorcyclists should avoid riding in inclement weather, or if they must, take adequate precautions before hitting the road, such as running a thorough pre-ride inspection.
18. Speeding is a factor in almost 32% of horrible motorcycle accidents.
Speed thrills but kills. Roughly 32% of bike accidents that result in death involve speeding. Take the cue and respect speed limits, always.
19. Roadway defects are responsible for almost 2% of bike accidents.
Potholes, pavement ridges, and other roadway defects account for nearly 2% of motorcycle crashes while animals cause roughly 1% of these mishaps.
Motorcycle Safety Statistics
20. The majority of bike accidents occur at busy intersections.
The most likely places for motorcycle crashes are intersections, with other drivers blocking bikers’ right-of-the-way or flouting traffic rules. This statistic is in line with the findings of a study in which researchers noted that 40% of all crashes involve intersections.
21. 42% of all bike fatalities occur between the hours of 3 PM and 9 PM.
According to the NHTSA, a majority of bad motorcycle accidents happen between 3 PM and 9 PM. In fact, crash statistics reveal that non-fatal bike crashes follow a similar pattern, with 25% of all dangerous accidents occurring in this window of time. Avoiding the road at this time may not be an option, so just focus on staying visible and vigilant.
Source: Sally Morin
22. 92% of motorcyclists involved in crashes learned to ride on their own or with the help of a friend or family member.
Such stats on motorcycle accidents underline the importance of taking a motorcycle safety course, which can help lower the risk of a crash in novice riders. Motorcycle coaching may also bring your motorcycle insurance premium down, which is an added, but not an insignificant, benefit.
23. 45% of motorcycle crashes result in more than a minor injury.
The chances of getting injured in a bike accident are extremely high. The motorcycle rider, according to a study on accidents involving motorcycles, sustains some sort of injury in 98% of multiple vehicle crashes and 96% of single-vehicle crashes.
24. Alcohol involvement and speed increase the risk of sustaining severe injuries.
This is hardly surprising. Speeding and alcohol both lower the rider’s capability to take collision-avoidance steps.
25. 27% of motorcyclists involved in deadly accidents were driving under the influence of alcohol in 2017.
The situation is no different now. Just like before, drunk driving causes the majority of motorcycle accidents today. Also, the percentage of drunk drivers is the highest among motorcyclists involved in dangerous crashes compared to any other type of driver, such as car drivers or truck drivers.
26. Head injuries are the most deadly injuries to moto accident victims.
It is a well-known fact that head injuries are one of the main causes of death in bike accidents. That’s why driving without a helmet is just not the smartest of ideas, something which the next few motorcycle injury statistics also confirm.
27. Motorcycle helmets lower the risk of head injury by 69% and the risk of death by almost 50%.
Like we said, helmets save lives. Wear one before you hit the road. But mind you, not all helmets are equally good. You should always go for DOT-certified helmets. These helmets meet or exceed the safety standards set by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and offer additional protection, which can help you avoid serious injury in the event of a crash.
Source: Safe Roads
28. The number of unhelmeted motorcycle fatalities is 10 times more prominent in states that don’t have universal helmet laws than those which do.
States without universal helmet laws record a huge number of motorcycle accidents without helmets and fatalities from such accidents than states with universal helmet laws. Yet only 19 states, plus Washington DC, have made wearing a helmet mandatory. Other states — except North Hampshire, Iowa, and Illinois, which have no motorcycle helmet laws — require only certain drivers to wear helmets, such as under 21 or under 18 riders.
Source: Safe Roads
29. Unhelmeted riders are twice as likely to suffer cervical spine injuries than bikers who wear helmets.
Researchers at the University of Madison collected data on worst motorcycle accidents and found that the spinal injury incidence rate was twice as likely in bikers who didn’t wear a helmet.
Considering riding a motorcycle without a helmet has serious consequences, one wonders why so many US states haven’t yet made helmets compulsory for all riders. Is it because people don’t want such a rule? Or is it because authorities don’t understand the benefits of a universal helmet law?
Perhaps it’s the latter since most Americans — as the next statistic reveals — are in favor of it.
Source: Safe Roads
30. Over 82% of Americans think making helmets mandatory for all motorcyclists is the way to go.
And rightly so. Recent motorcycle death statistics show hundreds of more lives could be saved every year if all motorcyclists wear helmets.
Source: Safe Roads
31. Helmets saved over 1,800 lives in 2017.
No less significant, nearly 750 additional lives could’ve been saved if all motorcycle riders wore helmets. See, that’s the point we’re making. The use of helmets is the single-most-important factor for reducing head injury and fatality rates among motorcycle riders. That’s why wearing a helmet should be compulsory, not optional.
Source: Safe Roads
32. Motorcycle helmets prevent $17 billion in societal harm per year.
What’s more, another $8 billion in harm could be saved if every motorcycle rider wore a helmet.
Source: Safe Roads
Auto Insurance and Motorcycle Accidents
33. Motorcycle riders with previous traffic citations are considerably overrepresented in accidents.
No wonder, these drivers have to cough up more for motorcycle insurance. Higher the risk to the insurer, the greater the premium.
34. Motorcycle drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 have a higher accident incidence rate than riders of any other age group.
Blame it on the lack of experience or a greater propensity to drink and drive, but the fact of the matter is: young riders have far more motorcycle accidents per year than experienced bikers. For this reason, auto insurance companies see them as high risk and charge them more for coverage.
35. Less than 10% of motorcyclists involved in accidents carried insurance to cover their medical expenses or the cost of repairs.
All states in the US, except Florida, require motorcycle owners to have some sort of motorcycle insurance. However, the state-mandated coverage hardly proves sufficient in case of an accident. That’s why adding PIP (if available in your state) and collision or comprehensive coverage to your policy is always a good idea. The former covers medical bills and lost wages while the latter pays to repair and replace your motorcycle.
The rate of severe motorcycle accidents is significantly higher than car accidents, despite cars dominating the road. Since motorcycles are unenclosed vehicles, riders are less protected from various hazards and more likely to sustain a serious injury in the event of a mishap.
So how can bikers stay safe?
Wearing proper safety gear and staying vigilant can make a world of difference. Naturally, adequate motorcycle insurance coverage comes in really handy when something bad happens.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How many moto accidents happen per year?
While this data is not available, what we do know is motorcycle riders are significantly overrepresented in traffic-related deaths. They make up for 14% of all traffic-related deaths, in spite of accounting for just 3% of registered vehicles.
2. What percentage of motorcycle accidents are fatal?
Research shows that 4.24% of all motorcycle crashes are fatal.
3. How many people died in bike accidents in 2018?
In 2018, 4,985 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes.
4. What is the main cause of moto accidents?
Speed and alcohol use account for roughly half of the crashes involving a single motorcycle. Cars making left-hand turns is another common cause of moto accidents, as is lane splitting by motorcycles.
5. Do motorcycle helmets really save lives?
You bet. Recent reports on motorcycle accidents reveal helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcycle riders. Also, another 749 people could have been saved if only they had used protective gear.