35 Motorcycle Accident Statistics for 2021
Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating. The freedom that comes with the open road is a lifestyle that lets bikers become one with a machine. Camaraderie, the need for speed, and adrenaline are common reasons riders take the pedal to the metal, and some motorcycle enthusiasts even enter a meditative-like state after a cruise.
Yet this hobby does come with inherent risks. In fact, motorcycles are the most deadly form of transportation in the U.S today. The car comes in second, but motorcyclists are still 27 times more likely to die than passenger car occupants in a crash.
Why are motorcycles so much more dangerous? Unlike other transport methods, they don’t have safety features like a steel frame or air bag to protect you in the event of a crash. If you do get injured in a motorcycle accident, consider speaking to an attorney to learn about your rights.
Below, our roundup of motorcycle accident statistics walks through the risks and annual fatalities, as well as tips for staying safe on your next ride.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics
Most motorcycle crashes involve another motor vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist does everything right, other drivers on the road pose a serious threat. Unfortunately, many automobile drivers don’t operate their vehicles with motorcyclists in mind.
Single-vehicle accidents, those where only the motorcycle is involved in the crash, are less frequent but still account for 42% of all motorcycle crashes. These incidents commonly involve speeding, reckless driving, or substances. Below, you’ll find more stats about motorcycle crashes.
74% of motorcycle accidents were frontal collisions.NHTSA
Motorcycle and automobile accidents combined are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries, responsible for nearly half of new spinal cord injuries every year.Mayo
An estimated 80% of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death.NHTSA
In 2018, there were 82,000 motorcycle injuries in the U.S.Injury Facts
Motorcycles are involved in 11% of all accidents on the road in the U.S.Motorcycle Accident
In traffic crashes that involve the use of drugs or alcohol, injuries occur in 90% of motorcycle crashes, compared with 33% of automobile crashes.Motorcycle Safety Foundation
When an accident does occur on a motorcycle, the risk of ejection is much likelier, and the brain becomes more susceptible to injuries. This is why serious injury or death is more common in motorcycle accidents than other road incidents. Below we’ve gathered startling stats on motorcycle fatalities.
In 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed on U.S. roads.NHTSA
Motorcyclists were 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled in 2017.III
Mississippi is the most fatal state for motorcycle accidents, followed by Texas and South Carolina.KTSM
Head injury is the number one cause of death in motorcycle crashes.NCBI
5 people died at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 2020, a 3% increase from 2019.Argus Leader
Motorcyclists make up only 3% of the entire motor vehicle fleet, yet account for 14% of all traffic-related fatalities.NHTSA
In 2017, 59% of female motorcyclists who died in crashes were passengers.III
Riders over the age of 40 comprise the greatest share of motorcyclist fatalities nationwide.GHSA
There was a 5% decline in motorcyclist deaths from 2017 to 2018.NHTSA
91% of motorcyclists who died in a crash in 2017 were male.NSC
Supersport motorcycles have driver death rates about 4 times as high as that of cruisers and standards.IIHS
Causes of Motorcycle Accident Statistics
A lot of factors can be at play in a motorcycle crash. Speeding, distracted driving, and drunk drivers can be deadly, and other vehicles on the road pose the biggest risk. The stats below provide insight into common crash causes.
Wrong turns are responsible for 42% of motorcycle deaths.IIHS
28% percent of the fatal motorcycle crashes in 2018 involved alcohol.NHTSA
Speeding accounted for 34% of motorbike accidents in 2017.IIHS
Warmer weather states have a higher fatality rate for motorcyclists, likely because of the year-round riding season.Quote Wizard
61% of motorcycle fatalities happen in urban areas.Injury Facts
In rural areas, the proportion of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes was highest for drivers of motorcycles (24%).NHTSA
Motorcycle Safety Statistics
Motorcycles can be dangerous given riders are more exposed, but safety gear can help protect the head and body in the event of an accident, lowering the risk of fatal injury or death. Helmets, motorcycle jackets, armored boots and more are proven to be effective in limiting injury when a crash occurs, particularly when fitted with body armour.
Helmets reduce the risk of head injury in a motorcycle crash by 69%.CDC
Motorcyclists have less rates of head, facial, and brain injuries in states with universal helmet laws.GHSA
Only 19 U.S. states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders.IIHS
32% of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, more than drivers of any other vehicle type.NHTSA
In 2017, 27% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes didn’t have valid motorcycle licenses.NHTSA
The United States could save more than $1 billion in economic costs annually if all motorcyclists wore helmets.IIHS
Wearing armored motorcycle boots reduces the risk of an open-wound foot or ankle injury by 90%.Defense.gov
Motorcycles with anti-lock brakes resulted in 31% less fatal crashes than the same models without.GHSA
Motorcycle Ownership Statistics
Motorcycles are becoming more popular on U.S. roadways, and the demographics of ownership are shifting. Here’s a look at emerging trends for street-legal bike ownership and registration.
Motorcycle ownership rose by 2.5 million over the past four years. In 2018, there were a total of 13,158,100 bike owners.Motorcycle Industry Council
In 2018, 8.02% of US households owned motorcycles.Motorcycle Industry Council
The median household income for motorcycle owners is $62,500.Motorcycle Industry Council
Even though motorcycles can be dangerous, it’s still a popular form of transportation and there are plenty of riding enthusiasts on the road today. If you or a loved one ride a motorbike, here are some tips for staying safe:
- Always wear a full-face helmet and safe riding gear: Helmets save lives, so regardless of your state's laws, don’t find yourself on the road without one.
- Make sure your motorcycle is road-ready before you ride: Check your tires, lights, fluids, and brakes before you go on a ride. It’s also a good idea to check underneath the bike to ensure there’s no oil or gas leak.
- Avoid wet or slick roads whenever possible: If you do have to bike in the rain, wear reflective rain gear, waterproof gloves and a clear visor in your helmet.
- Never drink alcohol and drive: More than a quarter of fatal motorcycle crashes involve alcohol. Reduce your risk of being involved in a drunk driving accident by remaining sober.
- Know your local laws: Each state has its own set of regulations about motorcycle use. Common law categories include: helmet use, eye protection, noise restrictions, passengers, daytime headlights and lane splitting. Reduce your risk of crashing by knowing and obeying your state’s motorcycle and traffic laws.
While riding motorcycles can be dangerous, regulation and education are helping improve road safety. If you are a motorcyclist injured in a crash, consider contacting experienced legal representation can get you or a loved one the help you need.