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Riding a motorcycle is undeniably dangerous. Sadly, motorcycle riders are 28 times more likely to lose their lives in a fatal driving crash compared with other motorists on the road. They are also four times as likely to sustain an injury in a collision.1
These motorcycle accident statistics shed more light on the risk motorcyclists face, as well as their rights they have when something goes wrong.
Key Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycle riders are more exposed and less protected on the road. The following motorcycle accident statistics bear this out.
82,528 Motorcyclists Were Injured in 2020
In 2020, a total of 82,528 motorcycle riders sustained injuries. A total of 468 injuries occurred per 100 million vehicle miles traveled over the course of that year.2
More Than a Third of Motorcycle Accidents Involve Unlicensed Drivers
Motorcycle accidents often involve untrained drivers. An estimated 36% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve riders who do not have a valid license to drive a motorcycle.1
While state requirements vary with regards to licensure, all states do require a motorcycle endorsement as a supplement to a standard driver’s license.3 Motorcyclists are usually required to pass both written tests and driving tests on a motorcycle to earn this endorsement.
August Is the Most Dangerous Months for Motorcyclists
Motorcycle accident statistics show the risk of a crash is not uniform year round. In fact, August is the most dangerous month for motorcyclists, with 14% of all fatal motorcycle crashes occurring over this month. By contrast, just 3% of fatal motorcycle crashes happened in January–the safest month.4
Better weather in the summer months is the likely explanation for the fact these months present the highest risk of a deadly accident.
Few Motorcyclists Are Hurt in the Rain
Rainy weather is a deterrent for riding a motorcycle, which helps to explain why so few motorcycle collisions occur during precipitation. Just 2% of motorcycle accidents happen when it is raining outside.5
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Motorcycle Fatality Statistics
There Were 5,579 Motorcyclists Killed in 2020
2020 was a bad year for motorcycle riders. A total of 5,579 were killed in fatal traffic accidents. This was the highest number of motorcycle accident deaths since the the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was first started in 1975.2
Motorcycle Accidents Accounted for 14% of All Traffic Deaths
Motorcycle riders account for 14% of all traffic facilities, despite the fact only 3% of all registered vehicles are motorcycles. Motorcycle crashes also account for 18% of all occupant fatalities and 4% of all injuries to vehicle occupants.5
2,143 of Motorcycle Accident Deaths Occurred When Not Wearing a Helmet
Failure to wear a helmet is one of the biggest risk factors for motorcycle riders. In fact, 2,143 motorcycle accident fatalities occurred when riders were not helmeted.5 Helmets can help to protect against head injuries, which have a high fatality rate.
34% of Motorcycle Fatalities Involve Speeding
Driving too fast is another risk factor. More than a third of fatal motorcycle accidents (34%) involve a motorist traveling at excess speed.2 Driving too fast increases the risk of a collision due to increased stopping distance and decreased control. It also increases the risk that a crash which does occur will be fatal because crash energy and forces increase as speed increases.
27% of Motorcycle Accident Deaths Involved Alcohol
Drink driving is a well-known risk-factor for all types of accidents, including motorcycle collisions. More than a quarter of deadly motorcycle accidents (27%) were alcohol-involved crashes. This includes single-vehicle accidents, which account for 41% of alcohol-impaired motorcycle crashes and which resulted in 880 motorcyclist deaths in 2020. By contrast, just 18% of alcohol-impaired motorcyclist crashes were multi-vehicle accidents, although these accounted for 556 deaths of motorcycle riders during the same year.2
Alcohol-Impaired Motorcycle Crashes Increase at Night
Drunk driving increases during the evening hours, making this an especially dangerous time for motorcycle accidents. Forty-percent of alcohol-impaired motorcycle crash deaths occur during the evening hours. And, motorcycle accidents are three times as likely to involve an impaired driver during the nighttime compared with during the day.2
On the Weekend, the Most Common Time of Day When Motorcycle Fatalities Occur Is 6pm-9pm
For motorcyclists, weekend evenings are a dangerous time on the road. A total of 24% of fatal motorcycle accidents happen between 6 and 9 p.m., with 676 deaths occurring during just this time period alone.4
During the Week, the Most Common Time of Day When Motorcycle Fatalities Occur Is 3-6 p.m.
Crashes happen earlier on weekdays, perhaps because more motorcycle riders are on-the-roads earlier during commuting hours during the workweek. A total of 26% motorcycle fatalities occurred between 3 and 6 p.m.. During this period, a total of 1,263 deaths occurred.4
There Were 30,263 More Car Accidents Than Motorcycle Accidents in 2020
Although motorcycle crashes are more dangerous than car accidents, there are fewer of them. In fact, there were 30,263 more auto accidents in 2020 than motorcycle accidents during the same year. Of course, this doesn’t mean drivers of cars are more likely to be involved in a crash. There are significantly more car accidents than motorcycle accidents simply because there are many more cars than motorcycles on the road.6
76% of Motorcycle Accidents Are a Collision From the Front
When motorcycle accidents happen, they usually involve a motorcyclist being hit from the front rather than rear-ended. Just 7% of two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle occurred when the motorcyclist was struck from behind. More than two thirds (76%) were head-on collisions.4
Motorcycle Helmet Use Statistics
65% Who Ride on a Motorcycle Wear a DOT-Compliant Helmet
Helmets significantly reduce the risk of a fatal motorcycle accident, especially when those helmets are in compliance with Department of Transportation requirements. That’s why it’s good news that the majority of people who ride motorcycles wear them. This includes 67% of riders and 52% of passengers.7
6% Wear a Non-Compliant Helmet While Riding a Motorcycle
DOT-compliant headlines are designed to maximize the protection a motorcyclist receives in a collision. But any helmet is better than no helmet, even if it is not in full compliance with Department of Transportation regulations. A total of 6% of motorcycle riders and 4% of passengers wear non-compliant helmets, but they remain safer than those who wear no helmet at all.7
Helmets Are 37% Effective in Preventing Fatalities for Motorcyclists [NHTSA, pg 7]
Although helmets do not prevent every motorcycle accident death, they are fairly effective at reducing the likelihood of fatalities. For every 100 motorcycle riders who lose their lives in accidents, 37 could have been saved if they had a helmet on at the time of the incident.2
18 States Require Motorcyclists to Wear Helmets
Although motorcycle helmets save lives, only a small number of states require all riders to wear them. The locations with a broad mandate for helmet use include the following7:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
Three States Have No Motorcycle Helmet Requirements
While some states require motorcycle helmets for all riders, three states do not ever mandate helmet use. These locations are the following7:
- New Hampshire
29 States Require Helmet Use Under a Certain Age [IIHS]
The majority of states have helmet laws that fall in the middle in terms of strictness. A total of 29 locations throughout the U.S. require helmets for motorcyclists under a certain age. The specific requirements vary by state, with some mandating helmet use for riders under age 17, 18, 21 or 25.
Here are the rules by state for when helmets are mandatory.8
- 17 and under: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming
- 18 and under: Delaware,
- 20 and under:Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah,
- 25 and under: Missouri
Motorcycle crash victims must understand the laws applicable where their collision occurred. Collision victims should contact an experienced attorney in the location where their crash took place to get help pursuing a claim for compensation. Find out how to find the best attorney in the state where you live including the following:
- Best personal injury lawyers in New York City
- Best personal injury lawyers in Houston
- Best personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles
- Best personal injury lawyers in Dallas
- Best personal injury lawyers in San Antonio
- Best personal injury lawyers in San Diego
States Without Motorcycle Helmet Laws Have Higher Fatality Rates
Since helmets prevent motorcycle deaths, it should not come as a surprise that locations without mandates requiring helmet use have higher fatality rates.
In fact, 57% of motorcycle riders who lose their lives in states with no helmet laws were not wearing head-protection at the time of the incident. By contrast, in states where helmet laws are mandated, just 11% of motorcyclists who lose their lives in accidents were not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.2
Motorcycle Accidents by State
The State With the Most Motorcycle Accidents Is New Hampshire
New Hampshire is the most dangerous state for motorcycle riders. A quarter of all deadly accidents in the state involve motorcyclists.9
The State With the Least Motorcycle Accidents Is Alaska
Alaska is the least deadly location for motorcyclists. Just 6% of deadly accidents in Alaska involve motorcycle riders. The fatality rate may be especially low in Alaska as the climate of the state is not conducive to motorcycle riding due to very cold temperatures.9
Motorcycle Accidents by Location
35% of Motorcycle Fatalities Happen at an Intersection
Some locations are deadlier than others for motorcycle riders. More than one third (35%) of motorcycle accident deaths occur at intersections.2
Intersections can be dangerous due to many vehicles coming together. Because of their small size, motorcyclists may not be as visible to drivers who could turn into their path. Drivers may also underestimate how fast a motorcyclist is approaching.
61% of Motorcycle Fatalities Happen in Urban Areas
Urban areas are more dangerous for motorcyclists compared with suburban or rural locations. Just over six in 10 motorcycle accident deaths occur in urban areas. Higher traffic and more condensed streets explain why motorcycle accidents are more likely to occur in urban areas compared with suburban or rural locations where there are fewer people on roads and wider, more open spaces.2
The Most Motorcycle Fatalities Happen on Non-Interstate Roads
Interstates are the safest place for motorcycle riders, as just 8% of motorcycle accidents occur on these roads.2
Motorcycle Accidents by Demographic
25-29-Year-Olds Are Most Likely to Die in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accident deaths predominantly occur among young people. The majority of motorcyclists who lost their lives in fatal crashes were between the ages of 25 to 29. In total, 706 people within this demographic group lost their lives in 2020. This is more than any other group. These young drivers have less experience and are more likely to take risks, both of which explain their higher rates of death while riding.4
Men Account for 92% of Motorcycle Deaths
Men are significantly more likely to lose their lives in a motorcycle accident. In fact, while 5,112 men died in motorcycle accidents in 2020, just 460 females lost their lives during that same year. Females made up just 8% of deadly motorcycle accident victims.4
99% of Male Motorcycle Deaths Are the Driver
When men die in a motorcycle accident, they most likely were the ones operating the motorcycle at the time of the collision. Of the men who died while riding in 2020, 5,084 were driving the motorcycle at the time of the incident. Just 26 were passengers at the time of the fatal crash. These male passengers account for only 1% of all male motorcycle deaths.4
61% of Female Motorcycle Deaths Are Passengers
While men who die in motorcycle accidents were more likely to be driving at the time, the opposite is true for women. Only 39% of all fatal motorcycle accidents involving females occurred when the woman was driving. These accidents accounted for 178 deaths in 2020, while 282 women who died on a motorcycle were passengers at the time of the incident.4
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Motorcycle Accidents Over Time
Motorcycle Accident Fatalities Have increased 20% Over the Last Decade
The roads have become substantially more dangerous for motorcycle riders in recent years. In 2011, just 4,630 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred compared to 5,579 in 2020. Many factors, including an increase in distracted driving prompted by smartphones as well as an increase in the size of passenger vehicles, help to explain why motorcyclists face a greater danger.2
Motorcycle Accident Injuries Have Increased 1% Over the Last Decade
Although there has been a dramatic increase in fatalities in motorcycle accidents, there has not been a corresponding increase in motorcycle accident injuries. In 2011, 81,706 motorcyclists were hurt in collisions compared with 82,528 injured victims in 2020. This reflects just a 1% rise in the number of injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes over the past decade.2
Motorcycle Helmet Use Has Decreased by 6% Since 2000
A decline in motorcycle helmet use can also help to explain why fatalities have increased in recent decades. While 71% of riders wore a helmet while on their motorcycle in 2000, this number was down to just 65% in 2020.10
Whether a motorcyclist is wearing a helmet or not, they have legal rights if someone causes a crash that harms them. A motorcycle accident lawsuit enables collision victims to pursue a case for compensation and recover monetary damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other economic and non-financial losses.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Motorcycle Safety
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycles
- American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. Motorcycle Licensing
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Motorcycles and ATVs
- National Safety Council. Injury Facts: Motorcycles
- Forbes Advisor. Car Accident Statistics for 2023
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycle Helmet Use in 2021
- IIHS. Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws by State
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool
- Insurance Information Institute. Facts + Statistics: Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycle Accident Statistics in California
These accidents resulted in 8,632 injuries and 532 fatalities. Male motorcyclists account for a majority of accident victims.
According to the California Highway Patrol's SWITRS data for 2021, a total of 13,381 injury and fatality motorcycle crashes occurred in the state. In 2020, 539 motorcyclists were killed in California accidents. Los Angeles County had the greatest number of motorcycle accidents in 2021 with 2,803.What are 40% of motorcycle crashes caused by? ›
Many Motorcyclists Still Don't Wear Helmets
In addition, 40% of motorcyclists killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. Wearing a helmet is the greatest way to reduce your risk of sustaining a head injury, so not wearing one is irresponsible and dangerous.
Be especially alert at intersections because approximately 70 percent of motorcycle-vehicle collisions occur there! Watch for vehicles that may unexpectedly turn in front of you or pull out from a side street or driveway.What kills most motorcycle riders? ›
In the majority of these cases, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front. And, it's no surprise that when head-on collisions occur, they're often fatal for the motorcyclist.
Preliminary estimates indicate motorcycle deaths will pass 6,000 a year once 2021 totals are tabulated. Key findings: Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas have the highest rate of motorcycle fatalities.What is the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents? ›
As mentioned previously, head injuries are the most common cause of fatal injuries in a motorcycle wreck. However, there are several other common causes of fatal accidents. The most common fatal injuries include: Head injuries.At what speed do most motorcycle deaths occur? ›
The Speed at Which Most Motorcycles Crash
The average speed of impact for motorcycle accidents is 21.5 mph. Shockingly, only one out of every 1,000 motorcycle accidents occur at speeds of around 85 mph.
Failure to yield and speeding are the top primary causes of motorcycle crashes.Why are motorcycle deaths so high? ›
Motorcycles are easier to maneuver and are generally more agile. But motorcyclists are considerably more exposed to danger than other motor vehicle operators. Accidents involving a motorcyclist can often cause serious trauma or death.
Intersections. One of the most common locations for motorcycle accidents is at an intersection. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all motorcycle accidents occur at traffic intersections.What is the main cause of the crash over 70% of the time when a motorcyclist is involved in an accident? ›
Motorcycle Accident Stats
In nearly 70 percent of motorcycle accidents that include another vehicle, the driver of the larger vehicle violated the motorcyclist's right of way, with an accident resulting.
Among the 4773 motorcycle riders, 466 (9.8 %) were obese, 1317 (27.6 %) overweight (30 > BMI ≥25 kg/m2), 2701 (56.6 %) normal-weight, and 289 (6.0 %) underweight (Fig. 1).
70 MPH is the average speed limit on most US highways. It is also the speed at which a fatal car accident becomes practically inevitable.Where is the safest place to ride a motorcycle? ›
Statistically, the highway is the safest place to ride a motorcycle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, 48% of all fatal motorcycle accidents occurred on major roads.What are the odds of surviving a motorcycle crash? ›
The national fatality rate was just under 5 percent, meaning that the odds of surviving a motorcycle crash are just over 95 percent. There are over 8 million registered motorcycles in the United States. Only one in every 1,600 motorcyclists will die in a crash.What is the safest state for motorcycles? ›
In the United States, the safest states to ride a motorcycle are Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Motorcycle riders should be aware of the weather conditions in which they choose to ride.What is the average life expectancy of a motorcycle rider? ›
The Average Age for Motorcycle Fatalities Is Over 40
The most common age to die in a motorcycle accident is 42. The reason for this could be the decreased vision, hearing, and body strength that come with older age.
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Honda's 50 cc C100 Super Cub is the biggest selling motor vehicle in history, having racked up 100 million sales in the last 63 years, and is still going.
The major causes of death in motorcycle accidents are head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Motorcycle crashes often result in serious head injuries, even if a rider is wearing a helmet (as is required in the state of North Carolina).
You can never assume other drivers, riders and even pedestrians have seen you. Motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in a crash.What is the no zone motorcycle? ›
A truck has larger blind spots than an ordinary vehicle. These blind spots are referred to as the “No-Zone.” In the “No-Zone,” motorcycles and cars disappear from the view of the truck driver. The “No-Zone” is where a biker is most likely to become involved in a crash with a truck.What is the safest speed to drive a motorcycle? ›
However, based on these factors, the safest Speed to ride a motorcycle typically ranges from 50-70 mph. This Speed is considered slow enough for riders of all experience levels to be safe and effective.Are motorcycle deaths higher than cars? ›
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Deaths in motorcycle accidents are approximately 30 times higher than fatalities in car accidents. Motorcycle riders over the age of 40 are approximately 20 times more likely to be injured in an accident than car drivers of the same age.
Motorcycles are less stable than cars.
This lack of stability is especially dangerous if the motorcyclist has to brake suddenly or swerve. In addition, some motorcycle accidents are caused by front-wheel “wobble” that can occur at high speeds.
Lowside, highside, topside, and collision are the four main categories of motorcycle crash types.What is the most common type of motorcycle accident? ›
Head-on crashes between a car and motorcycle are, in most cases, fatal for motorcycle riders. Records have shown that these collisions account for about 58 percent of fatalities from motorcycle crashes.Who shouldn't ride a motorcycle? ›
Riding on a motorcycle is all about balance. Leaning too far to one side or the other during a turn or even when riding straight down the road can result in your landing on your side and injuring yourself. If you have any type of balance difficulty, such as an inner ear problem or vertigo, avoid driving a motorcycle.What state has the most motorcycle riders? ›
U.S. motorcycle registrations by state
Not only is California one of the U.S. states with the highest number of motorcycles, but it is also the most populous state in the U.S. overall, representing close to 12 percent of the country's total population.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries that Can Result in Death
Some injuries will cause death immediately. Others can prove fatal if the rider does not receive prompt emergency care. Others still may not lead to immediate death, but may cause successive health complications that ultimately end the rider's life.
In 41% of fatal motorcycle crashes involving two vehicles, the other vehicles were turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.What is the number 1 cause for all motor vehicle crashes? ›
Many accidents in California result from reckless or negligent behavior, such as driving while impaired, speeding, and distracted driving.What is the number one driver action that causes crashes? ›
1. Distracted Driving. Distracted driving is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States.What is the least stolen motorcycle? ›
Suzuki's 650 Savage (now called the Boulevard S40), Honda 250 and 450 Rebels (grouped together) and BMW R1200C series cruiser made the top five on both of the least-lost lists, with the Savage topping the least-stolen list.What is the most unreliable motorcycle brands? ›
Can-Am. Can-Am motorcycles had the worst reliability rating according to Consumer Reports with an estimated 42% of bikes needing repairs within the first four years. Still, 67% of owners said they'd buy a Can-Am bike again. More frequent repairs or a higher cost of ownership don't matter as much to Can-Am riders.What is the safest lane on the freeway for a motorcycle? ›
What's the safest part of a lane for a motorcycle to ride in? As the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's (MSF) rider manual explains, you can imagine any lane divided into three equal parts: left, center and right. The safest “default” lane position for a motorcycle is in the leftmost third of the lane.What body parts will you most likely injure in a motorcycle crash? ›
- Lower extremity. Motorcycle accident victims often sustain injuries to their lower extremities because of the exposed nature of a rider's legs. ...
- Upper extremity. ...
- Thorax. ...
- Head. ...
- Face/Neck. ...
- Abdomen. ...
Examples of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Your injuries could be incredibly painful, and loss of mobility is a possibility. Mental suffering due to your physical injuries can also occur.
Motorcycle riders over 40 are around 20 times more likely to be injured in the case of an accident than car drivers of the same age. Even though motorcycles result in just 3% of all registered vehicles, they are accountable for over 5% of highway-related fatalities.
How many motorcycle deaths are there each year? The average number of motorcycle fatalities in a given year from 2011 to 2020 is around 5,015. The highest recorded number was 5,579 in 2020, while the lowest was 4,594 in 2014.
Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year. The costs of bicycle injuries and deaths from crashes typically exceed $23 billion in the United States each year.How many motorcycle deaths average per year? ›
Over the last 10 years, deaths have increased 19%, while death rates have increased 29%. The number of motorcycle fatalities now stands at 5,932 and the rate is 30.05 per 100 million vehicle miles. The number of nonfatal injuries increased by 5%, while the injury rate decreased by 4% from 2020 to 2021.How many motorcycle deaths per day in the US? ›
Data reported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) paints a stark picture of motorcycle accident fatalities in the United States. On average, more than 5,000 motorcyclists die in traffic accidents every year in the United States. That's around 15 motorcyclists killed per day.What is the motorcyclist leading cause of death? ›
The major causes of death in motorcycle accidents are head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Motorcycle crashes often result in serious head injuries, even if a rider is wearing a helmet (as is required in the state of North Carolina).What are the odds of surviving a motorcycle accident? ›
The national fatality rate was just under 5 percent, meaning that the odds of surviving a motorcycle crash are just over 95 percent. There are over 8 million registered motorcycles in the United States. Only one in every 1,600 motorcyclists will die in a crash.Where are most motorcycle deaths? ›
According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all motorcycle accidents occur at traffic intersections. Intersections require everyone to pay close attention to determine the right-of-way.Where do most motorcycle deaths happen? ›
How may we help you? Although motorcycle accidents that result in injuries are a common phenomenon, various studies have provided data showing where most motorcycle accidents do happen. Overall, most motorcycle accidents occur in urban areas, on non-interstate roads, and at locations other than intersections.Which bike has most accidents? ›
Cruisers: As much as 50% of the motorcycles on the road today are classified as motorcycle cruisers. This also means that they account for a large percentage of the accidents. Additionally, cruisers may encourage riders to wear less protective gear in order to maintain their 'cool image.Are you safer on a motorcycle or a car? ›
The chances of a fatality in a motorcycle accident are approximately 30 times higher than in a car. Motorcycle accidents have a staggering 80% injury or death rate, while car accidents remain around 20%.Are you more likely to crash in a car or motorcycle? ›
Per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are 27 x more likely to be killed in a traffic crash than passenger car occupants. They account for 14% of all traffic fatalities. Motorcyclists are more likely to get into a fatal accident on weekends and between 12 and 9 pm.