Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents

With motorcycles more popular than ever, it should come as no surprise that there has been in increase in accidents involving such vehicles.  The following statistics should be interesting to any motorcycle enthusiast concerned about safety.

  • Over one million two wheel motorcycles were sold in 2008, a jump of 11% from previous years.  In fact, fatalities have been on the rise for the past 11 years
  • 5,290 people perished in a motorcycle accident in 2008.   This means that motorcycles fatalities were at the highest level they’ve ever been since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began tracking such statistics in 1975
  • 75% of accidents involve a passenger vehicle and a motorcycle, according to the Hurt Report
  • Windshields and fairings, which increase a motorcycle’s visibility, make motorcycles less likely to be involved in an accident
  • According to the Hurt Report, alcohol played a role in nearly half of all fatal accidents.  Alcohol usage, speed, and bike size also potentially increase the severity of injuries
  • Injury risks can be mitigated by utilizing helmets, protective clothing, and other safety gear
  • Lack of visibility to other motorists is the leading cause of motorcycle accidents
  • The NHTSA has stated that fatality rates for registered motorcycles in 2008 were six times higher than that of passenger cars
  • In 2008, bikers were speeding in 35% of fatal crashes
  • Motorcyclists are 37 times as likely to die and 9 times as likely to be injured per vehicle mile traveled than their fellow car riders
  • 30% of bike operators killed in 2008 had a blood alcohol level equal to or greater than .08
  • Helmets prevent accident fatalities 37% of the time
  • There was a 75% increase in registered motorcycles in 2007 from ten years prior
  • 43% of operators between the ages of 15 and 20 fatally injured in a crash in 2008 were unlicensed or driving on an invalid license
  • Less than 3% of motorcycle accidents are the result of vehicle failure, according to a 2006 study.  When vehicle failure was the culprit, the accident typically involved a single vehicle crash where a punctured flat tire caused the rider to lose control
  • Only 2% of motorcycle accidents have weather play some factor
  • Most accidents take place on short trips from the rider’s home
  • Those who were self-taught or learned to ride from friends or family made up 92% of riders involved in an accidents
  • Head or chest trauma is the cause of most motorcycle accident fatalities
  • 10% of riders in an accident did not have sufficient insurance coverage

The Hurt Report

Insurance Information Institute

California Motorcycle Operator’s Handbook


Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Articles and Resources