Motorcycle Accident Statistics and Possible Causes

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

  • Motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to experience a deadly accident on the road than those in passenger cars.

  • In 2006, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in highway accidents alone.

  • In 2006, 4,810 motorcyclists were killed in road accidents.

  • 11 percent of all roadway accidents that occur in the United States involve motorcycles.

  • Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

  • A motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to die of a head injury than one who wears a helmet.

  • A motorcyclist not wearing a helmet is 15 percent more likely to suffer a nonfatal injury than one who wears a helmet.

  • It is estimated that helmets reduce the likelihood of a crash fatality by 37 percent.

  • In 2007, a total of 7.1 million motorcycles were registered in the U.S.

  • In 2005, the motorcycle fatality rate was 73 per 100,000 registered motorcycles; meanwhile, the passenger vehicle fatality rate in the same year was 14 per 100,000 registrations.

  • Motorcycle use is growing disproportionately to fatality growth.  For instance, in 1997 there were 3,826,373 motorcycles registered in the U.S. and 2,116 motorcycle fatalities.  In 2005, there were 6,227,146 motorcycles registered in the U.S. and 4,810 motorcycle fatalities.  So, between 1997 and 2005, registrations grew 63 percent while fatalities more than doubled.

A 2009 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute report found that:

  • More than half of motorcyclist deaths involved at least one other vehicle.
  • 42 percent of two-vehicle fatal motorcycle crashes involved a vehicle turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle.
  • A little less than half of all motorcycle driver deaths involved no other vehicle.
  • Of the 1,791 motorcycle deaths that involved only the motorcyclist
    1. 48 percent were speeding.
    2. 42 percent had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 percent or higher.
  • 655,000 motorcycles were purchased, a decrease from 1.1 million in 2008.

Possible Causes of a Motor Vehicle Accident

  • Poor weather conditions;

  • Not utilizing a turn signal;

  • Lane splitting, i.e. when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes;

  • Ignoring traffic conditions;

  • Ignoring traffic signs;

  • Disobeying speed limitations;

  • Driving on the wrong side of the road;

  • Not seeing a motorcyclist due to glare or other view obstructions;

  • Inexperienced motorists;

  • Driving while under the influence of drugs;

  • Vehicle defects;

  • Roadway defects;

  • Intentional hostile actions

However, the primary reason for motorcycle accidents is that motorcycles offer little protection when a collision occurs. Although helmets can save lives, motorcyclists have little else to rely on should a crash occur.

Helmet Statistics

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration (GHSA), wearing helmets is the single best way to prevent motorcycle accident fatalities, with a rate 0f 37% for riders and 41% for passengers.

  • In 2008, 43% of all victims that were fatally injured in a motorcycle accident were not wearing helmets.

  • In 2009, 44% of all victims fatally injured in a motorcycle accident were not wearing helmets.

  • NHTSA determined that at least 1,829 lives were saved in 2008 because riders were wearing helmets, and an additional 822 victims would have lived had they used a helmet.

  • According to the Department of Transportation, only the District of Columbia and 19 states mandate universal helmet laws, even though research have proven that helmet use is the easiest way to help saves lives during a motorcycle accident.

  • Seven states have repealed the universal helmet law since 1997: Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, and Michigan.

  • According to GHSA, helmet use drops significantly when helmet use is repealed.

  • Fatalities increased in all seven states that repealed helmets laws, with Louisiana coming in 1st with a fatality increase of 108%.

  • In 2004, nationwide helmet use increased. As a result, motorcycle accident fatality rates drastically decreased.

Alcohol and Motorcycle Accident Statistics 

  • According to NHTSA, in 2010, a total of 29% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved riders with a blood alcohol level above the legal nationwide limit, .08.

  • In 2005, one in every three motorcycle accidents was a result of riding under the influence of alcohol.

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults between the ages of 40 through 44 have had increased alcohol-related motorcycle accidents. However, young adults between the ages of 20 through 24 still lead as the age group with the most alcohol-related motorcycle crashes.

  • In 2006, close to 4% of all victims involved in a fatal motorcycle accident had at least one prior alcohol-related conviction. Only 2.9% of car drivers involved in fatal accidents had prior convictions.

Speeding and Motorcycle Accident Statistics

  • According to the NHTSA, 37% of all motorcycle accidents in 2006 involved speeding.

  • In 2008, 35% of all fatal motorcycle accidents were the result of speeding.

  • Close to half of all motorcycle accidents do not involve another vehicle. Instead, speeding was the main contribution. Of the other half of motorcycle accidents which involve another vehicle, speeding is one of the leading factors of accidents as well.

  • GHSA has determined that stronger law enforcement in high-target areas for motorcycle speeding will likely reduce motorcycle accidents.

  • Motorcyclists speeding while not wearing protective gear, such as helmets, more than double their risk of a potential fatal motorcycle accident.

 Motorcycle Accident Statistics and Possible Causes

Motorcycle accidents almost always result in injuries, extensive medical bills, and treatments. This in turn can lead to lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional turmoil, and much more. Victims deserve to be compensated for the negligence of another party. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you have legal rights, and may be entitled to financial compensation.

Keep in mind that you’ll have a much better chance at winning the maximum financial compensation you deserve if you retain an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. A leading motorcycle accident lawyer knows and understand the complex set of laws and standards that come along with motorcycle collisions.

For more information, please utilize our state list at the top of each page to find a leading motorcycle accident lawyer in your area.