Motorcycle Accident Statistics

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Motorcycle Accident Statistics and studies show that most motorcycle accidents with cars are the fault of the car driver. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
Call a motorcycle accident lawyer today for a free consultation at (480) 361-2442.

General Motorcycle Accident Statistics from NHTSA

The following motorcycle accident statistics have been published by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation:

  • Per mile traveled, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely than occupants of cars to die in a traffic crash
  • Per mile traveled, motorcyclists are 8 times more likely than occupants of a car to be injured in a traffic crash
  • For every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes while not wearing helmets, the lives of 37 of them could have been saved if all 100 had worn helmets
  • Helmets saved 1,784 motorcyclists’ lives in 2007
Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Motorcycle Helmet Statistics

According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association:

  • Helmets are 37% effective in preventing motorcycle accident deaths to motorcycle riders
  • Helmets are 41% effective in preventing motorcycle accident deaths to motorcycle passengers
  • NHTSA estimates that 706 of motorcyclists who died in 2010 would have lived if they had been wearing helmets
  • In 2011, helmets use was 84% in states that have laws requiring the use helmets by all motorcyclists and 50% in other states

Motorcycle Accident Statistics Data from The Hurt Report

The Hurt Report was a motorcycle accident safety study authored by USC professor Harry Hurt. The Hurt Report was initiated by NHTSA, which contracted with the University of Southern California Traffic Safety Center. First published in 1981, many believe the findings and motorcycle crash statistics contained in the report are still relevant today. In 1999, Professor Hurt stated the findings of the report were still basically valid.

The Hurt Report summarized 55 findings relating to characteristics of motorcycle accidents with a focus on motorcycle accident and injury causation. One of the significant findings is that in two-thirds of motorcycle crashes with cars, the driver of the car did not see the rider and violated the rider’s right of way. In other words, most motorcycle-car wrecks are not the fault of the bike rider.

Here is a summary of the Hurt Report findings:

  1. Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most usually a passenger automobile.
  2. Approximately one-fourth of these motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.
  3. Vehicle failure accounted for less than 3% of these motorcycle accidents, and most of those were single vehicle accidents where control was lost due to a puncture flat.
  4. In the single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slide-out and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.
  5. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of the accidents; animal involvement was 1% of the accidents.
  6. In the multiple vehicle crashes, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the crash in two-thirds of those crashes.
  7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle wrecks. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.
  8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause.
  9. The most frequent collision configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.
  10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right-of-way, and often violating traffic controls.
  11. Weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle crashes.
  12. Most motorcycle accidents involve a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment or recreation, and the accident is likely to happen in very short time close to the trip origin.
  13. The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the wreck is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents.
  14. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle crashes, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps-on In daylight and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.
  15. Fuel system leaks and spills are present in 62% of the motorcycle accidents in the post-crash phase. This represents an undue hazard for fire.
  16. The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph-
  17. The typical motorcycle pre-crash lines-of-sight to the traffic hazard portray no contribution of the limits of peripheral vision; more than three fourths of all accident hazards are within 45° of either side of straight ahead.
  18. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.
  19. Vehicle defects related to accident causation are rare and likely to be due to deficient or defective maintenance.
  20. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented.
  21. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle riders are male (96X), the female motorcycle riders are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.
  22. Craftsmen, laborers and students comprise most of the accident-involved motorcycle riders but the professionals, sales workers and craftsmen are underrepresented and the laborers, students and unemployed are overrepresented in the accidents.
  23. Motorcycle riders with previous recent traffic citations and accidents are overrepresented in the accident data.
  24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.
  25. More than half of the accident-involved bike riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Bike riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.
  26. Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.
  27. Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.
  28. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.
  29. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.
  30. Passenger carrying motorcycles are not overrepresented in the accident data.
  31. The drivers of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle are not distinguished from other accident populations except that the ages of 20 to 29, and beyond 65 are overrepresented. Also, these drivers are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.
  32. The large displacement motorcycles are underrepresented in accidents but they are associated with higher injury severity when involved in accidents.
  33. Any effect of motorcycle color on accident involvement is not determinable from these data, but is expected to be insignificant because the frontal surfaces are most often presented to the other vehicle involved in the collision.
  34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders.
  35. Motorcycle riders in these accidents were significantly without motorcycle license, without any license, or with license revoked.
  36. Motorcycle modifications such as those associated with the Semi-Chopper or Cafe Racer are definitely overrepresented in crashes.
  37. The likelihood of injury is extremely high in these motorcycle accidents; 98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.
  38. Half of the injuries to the somatic regions were to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and thigh-upper leg.
  39. Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure; the reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.
  40. The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.
  41. Groin injuries were sustained by the motorcyclist in at least 13% of the accidents, and typified by multiple vehicle collision in frontal impact at higher than average speed,
  42. Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.
  43. Seventy-three percent of the accident-involved bike riders used no eye protection, and it is likely that the wind on the unprotected eyes contributed an impairment of vision which delayed hazard detection.
  44. Approximately 50% of the motorcycle riders in traffic were using safety helmets but only 40% of the accident-involved motorcycle riders were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.
  45. Voluntary safety helmet use by those accident-involved motorcycle riders was lowest for untrained, uneducated young motorcycle riders on hot days and short trips.
  46. The most deadly Injuries to the accident victims were injuries to the chest and head.
  47. The use of the safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention or reduction of head injury; the safety helmet which complies with FMVSS 218 is a significantly effective injury countermeasure.
  48. Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of pre-crash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention; no element of accident causation was related to helmet use,
  49. FMVSS 218 provides a high level of protection in traffic accidents, and needs modification only to increase coverage at the back of the head and demonstrate impact protection of the front of full facial coverage helmets, and insure all adult sizes for traffic use are covered by the standard.
  50. Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all levels of injury severity.
  51. The increased coverage of the full facial coverage helmet increases protection, and significantly reduces face injuries.
  52. There is no liability for neck injury by wearing a safety helmet; helmeted riders had fewer neck injuries than unhelmeted riders. Only four minor injuries were attributable to helmet use, and in each case the helmet prevented possible critical or fatal head injury,
  53. Sixty percent of the motorcyclists were not wearing safety helmets at the time of the accident. Of this group, 26% said they did not wear helmets because they were uncomfortable and inconvenient, and 53% simply had no expectation of accident involvement.
  54. Valid motorcycle exposure data can be obtained only from collection at the traffic site, Motor vehicle or driver license data presents information which is completely unrelated to actual use,
  55. Less than 10% of the bike riders involved in these accidents had insurance of any kind to provide medical care or replace property.

MAIDS Report Motorcycle Crash Statistics

The Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study (MAIDS) was co-funded by ACEM, the Motorcycle Industry of Europe, and the European Commission. Published in 2004, the MAIDS report was based on an in-depth study of 923 motorcycle crashes over a two year period in five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain.

The MAIDS report included the following conclusions and motorcycle crash statistics:

  • The cause of most motorcycle crashes is human error
  • The most frequent human error was the failure of the driver of another vehicle to see the bike rider
  • Traffic control violations were reported in 18% of accidents for drivers of the other vehicle and 8% of accidents for bike riders
  • Over 70% of errors of the other vehicle’s drivers were the failure to see the bike rider
  • In 9.1% of accidents, helmets came off the bike wearer’s head as a result of improper fastening or helmet damage
  • Road defects due to improperly maintained roads caused the crash or was a contributing factor in 3.6% of crashes

Get Help From Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

As demonstrated by the motorcycle accident statistics contained in the Hurt Report and the MAIDS report, the majority of motorcycle crashes with cars are the fault of the other driver. This means the bike rider may have a legal claim against the other driver (or their insurance company) for the motorcycle accident injuries suffered by the rider.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, contact us for a free, no-obligation legal consultation at (480) 361-2442. We have a team of motorcycle accident lawyers that are experienced in successfully handling motorcycle accident lawsuits. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not owe us anything unless we recover for you. Our goal is to maximize the amount of your monetary compensation.

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