Most people will readily admit that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than riding in a car. After all, whereas occupants of a car are protected by the steel and metal of the car’s chassis as well as safety features like airbags and seatbelts, motorcyclists’ only protection in the event of a crash consists of a helmet and protective clothing and eyewear. Yet few people (motorists or motorcyclists) have a clear understanding of just how dangerous motorcycling can be.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics Paint a Dangerous Picture
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) compiles statistics from government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as from other sources about motorcycling safety.
According to these statistics:
- Approximately 8.4 million motorcycles took to the roads during 2014;
- In 2014, NHTSA reported that nearly 4,600 people (motorcyclists and passengers combined) died in motorcycle collisions;
- That same year, approximately 92,000 motorcyclists and their passengers were injured in motorcycle crashes;
- The number of motorcyclist and passenger deaths is down slightly from 2013, when 4,692 individuals were killed;
- Motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than the occupants of passenger cars to die in a collision;
- Motorcyclists who are 40 years of age or older account for 54 percent of all motorcyclists killed in 2014. This is significantly higher than in 2005, when this age group accounted for 47 percent of all motorcyclist fatalities;
- The overwhelming majority of motorcyclists who are injured and killed are male (which may be reflective of the fact that men are more likely to own and ride motorcycles than women).
Addressing the behavior of motorcyclists, IIHS statistics show:
- Twenty-nine percent of motorcyclists killed in fatal crashes had a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08 or greater. This is an increase from 2013, when 27 percent of deceased motorcyclists had a blood or breath alcohol level above the legal limit;
- In 2014, helmets saved the lives of nearly 1,670 motorcyclists and riders. It is estimated that a helmet prevents the motorcyclist from suffering fatal injuries in 37 percent of motorcycle collisions and prevents motorcycle passengers from suffering injuries in over 40 percent of collisions;
- About six out of every ten motorcyclists used a helmet in 2015, a statistic that has remained virtually unchanged from 2012;
- Approximately 30 percent of those motorcyclists who were killed in 2014 were not licensed to operate a motorcycle. This suggests that motorcyclists who are not properly licensed may be at an increased risk of death as they may not be aware how to properly handle a motorcycle in the event of an emergency;
- Speeding was a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal motorcycle crashes.
On causes and contributing factors of motorcycle crashes:
- Motorcycles crash with other vehicles approximately 56 percent of the time. In about three-fourths of these cases, the motorcyclist is hit head-on;
- Left-hand turn collisions, in which a crash occurs when a car is making a left-hand turn, account for over 40 percent of all motorcycle crashes;
- About one in four motorcyclist deaths occur because the motorcyclist collides with a fixed object during the crash (such as a utility pole, sign, or building).
Do Motorcycle Accident Statistics Mean I Should Not Ride a Motorcycle?
These statistics, although intimidating and frightening, are not meant to discourage motorcyclists from riding their motorcycles. Instead, these statistics are meant to alert motorcyclists to the behaviors that can make it more likely that they will suffer serious or fatal injuries.
Some of the behaviors identified by these statistics that make collisions (including fatal collisions) more likely include:
- Drinking alcohol before riding one’s motorcycle;
- Not wearing a helmet while riding;
- Not paying attention to approaching traffic or traffic that is attempting to turn;
- Not taking a motorcycle safety course, becoming licensed to ride a motorcycle, or otherwise learning how to safely operate a motorcycle;
In addition to avoiding the above-identified behaviors, motorcyclists can further reduce their risk of a collision and injuries by wearing visible clothing so that motorists are better able to spot them, driving defensively (especially in congested areas), and not riding while distracted.
When to Call a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcyclists who practice safe riding behaviors are not immune from being involved in injury accidents. When a negligent or careless driver causes a collision, motorcyclists need to act quickly in order to preserve their rights to pursue compensation against the at-fault motorist. Stern Law, PLLC is committed to helping injured motorcyclists who have incurred medical expenses and missed time from work recover monetary damages to address these losses. In addition, injured motorcyclists may be able to obtain compensation for pain and suffering they may have experienced as a result of their injuries. Motorcyclists and passengers injured in crashes should call Stern Law, PLLC at (844) 808-7529 quickly in order to begin the process of recovering compensation.