Alarming Motorcycle Accident Statistics

POSTED BY Andrew Kass||

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects data on vehicular crashes that occur each year. These motorcycle accident statistics are made public and are used by insurance companies to help determine premiums. It is helpful to sort through the latest numbers when they are released, as major changes can occur from year to year.

Motorcycle Crash Statistics

The latest release of data is for the 2016 calendar year. Additionally, the 1981 Hurt Report gives us data that still applies today. The motorcycle crash statistics shown below are a representation of both reports.

  • In 2016, motorcycle crash fatalities were up 5.1 percent from the previous year. 5,286 bikers were killed in crashes.
  • Motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in a crash than car occupants for each mile traveled.
  • Bikers represented a full 14 percent of traffic fatalities, 4 percent of injuries, and 17 percent of occupant fatalities (both driver and passenger). 
  • Nearly 8.7 million motorcycles were on the roads in 2016, compared to just 8 million in 2009.
  • 40 percent of the bikers killed in traffic crashes were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. 
  • Per vehicle on the road, motorcyclists are six times more likely to be involved in a crash with fatalities. 
  • Older bikers are more likely to die in crashes. In 2015, 54 percent of motorcyclists killed on the roads were over 40. In 2005, just 47 percent of fatalities involved bikers over 40 years of age. 
  • Older bikers sustain more serious injuries when they are involved in crashes. They are more likely to fracture bones, suffer brain damage, and face other serious injuries than younger bikers. 
  • Alcohol use was a factor in 27 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2015. This compares to just 21 percent for car drivers. 
  • 42 percent of nighttime fatal motorcycle crashes involved alcohol. 
  • Approximately 75 percent of motorcycle accidents involved a collision with a vehicle (usually a passenger vehicle). 
  • Vehicle failure usually occurred when a tire became punctured or went flat, and accounted for less than three percent of crashes.
  • Roadway defects were a factor in approximately 2 percent of all crashes. 
  • In multiple vehicle crashes, 2/3 of the accidents involved vehicles violating the right-of-way of the motorcycle. 
  • In the majority of crashes, vehicle drivers reported that they did not see the motorcycle or were unable to detect it until it was too late.
  • Weather is only a factor in about 2 percent of all motorcycle collisions. 
  • Conspicuity of the motorcycle was a prominent factor in motorcycle crashes with vehicles. Crashes were significantly reduced when bikers used headlights during the day and/or wore bright, prominent colors. 
  • Motorcycle defects were rarely the cause of collisions. 
  • Riding experience plays a large role in motorcycle crashes. Approximately half of all crashes involve bikers with less than 6 months riding experience on the accident motorcycle. 
  • The color of the motorcycle plays very little role in collisions. 
  • 98 percent of collisions with another vehicle and 96 percent of motorcycle collisions without another vehicle resulted in injuries or fatalities. 
  • Heavy boots, jackets, gloves, and thick pants help reduce some of the injuries in motorcycle crashes. 
  • The severity of injury increases with speed, the use of alcohol, and the size of the motorcycle. 
  • The most deadly injuries were those involving the head and the chest. 
  • The helmet is the most important factor in reducing head injuries and fatalities.

This data offers a number of insights when it comes to motorcycle crashes. Alcohol use, a factor that is entirely preventable, is involved in many fatal crashes. By simply avoiding drinking while riding, bikers cut their risk of crash fatalities by 27 percent! This number shoots to a whopping 42 percent during nighttime hours.

Although the motorcycle accident statistics seem to indicate that older bikers are more likely to be injured or killed in motorcycle crashes, those numbers may be skewed due to the number of older bikers on the road. Also, the data clearly shows that wearing helmets, gloves, heavy boots and other protective equipment serves to greatly reduce the level of injury in the event of a motorcycle crash.

At Kass & Moses, our motorcycle crash lawyers are also licensed bikers. We keep up with the motorcycle crash statistics data so you don’t have to! We have over 25 years of experience representing hundreds of injured bikers. We can put the law to work for you. We take cases nationwide, and we will even come to you! If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash, contact our team for more information on how to get the compensation you deserve. You can reach us anytime at 1-800-MOTORCYCLE.