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Motorcycle Crash Statistics that Might Surprise You

By David Boehrer | Posted on October 11, 2019

More than 89,000 motorcyclists were injured in motorcycle crashes and another 5,172 bikers lost their lives in 2017. Learning more about motorcycle crash statistics, the challenges riders face, and the factors that contribute to these accidents may help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities.

Motorcycle Injury and Death Rates

Motorcyclists are more vulnerable in crashes than the occupants of passenger vehicles. In fact, motorcycle riders are five times more likely to suffer severe injuries, and 28 times more likely to be killed in crashes than people in passenger cars. Without any structural protection, motorcyclists often sustain crushed or amputated limbs, severe burns, permanent disfigurement, and fatal head injuries.

Contributing Factors

Speed and alcohol are major factors in motorcycle accidents. The NHTSA reports that 32% of motorcyclists who were killed in fatality crashes in 2017 were speeding. About 28% were alcohol-impaired with BAC levels above 0.08%. Another 7% of those who died had lower levels of alcohol in their systems.

Factors that Play a Role in Injuries and Deaths

A number of factors impact the risk of motorcyclist injuries and deaths.

Type of Motorcycle

The size and type of motorcycle play a role in motorcycle crash injury and death rates. According to the Insurance Information Institute, supersport riders have death rates four times higher than other riders. Supersport motorcycles, popular with young riders, are built for racing and often modified for street use.

Head Trauma and Brain Damage

Since there are no seat belts or airbags on motorcycles, riders are frequently thrown off their bikes in a crash. They are propelled into oncoming traffic, parked cars, guardrails, buildings, and outdoor obstacles. Only about 50% of motorcyclists wear helmets, and 40% of deaths happen to riders without helmets. Those who survive often suffer head trauma or traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Fatalities for Older Riders

Older riders are more likely to be in fatal motorcycle collisions than young riders due to vision and hearing problems and slower reaction times. Older riders also tend to buy larger bikes for stability, but larger. heavier bikes are more likely to roll over in a crash, crushing the rider under the bike.

Fault for Accidents

Approximately 75% of motorcycle accidents involve a collision between a motorcycle and at least one passenger vehicle. The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers who fail to see motorcycles in traffic when they make turns, merge into traffic, change lanes, or stop at traffic signals.

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