Motorcycle riding carries inherent risks, with riders being significantly more vulnerable on the road than other motorists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) , “there were nearly 6000 motorcyclists killed in 2021 alone.”
The year 2023 is witnessing several alarming statistics, highlighting the dangers faced by motorcyclists and the importance of safety measures.
This article delves into key motorcycle accident statistics, shedding light on the risks involved and the need for increased awareness and preventive measures.
Motorcycle Rider Vulnerability
Motorcyclists generally face higher risks due to their exposure and limited protection while on the road. The following statistics below emphasise these risks:
In 2020, 82,528 motorcycle riders sustained injuries, resulting in an average of 468 injuries per 100 million vehicle miles travelled throughout the year. This data underscores the urgency of addressing safety concerns and implementing preventive measures.
An estimated 36 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involve riders without valid licences. While specific licensure requirements vary across states, a motorcycle endorsement, obtained through written and driving tests, is generally mandatory alongside a standard driver’s licence. Ensuring proper licensing can contribute to reducing accidents involving untrained riders.
Motorcycle accident statistics reveal variations in crash occurrence throughout the year, emphasising the influence of weather and other factors on rider safety:
August is the most difficult month for motorcyclists, accounting for 14 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes. In contrast, January is the safest month, with only 3 percent of fatal accidents occurring. The increased risk during the summer months can be attributed to favourable riding conditions and higher overall motorcycle activity.
Surprisingly, motorcycle accidents are relatively infrequent during rainy weather, constituting only 2 percent of total accidents. This phenomenon can be attributed to fewer riders on the road during unfavourable weather conditions.
Motorcycle Fatality Rates and Risk Factors
Motorcycle fatality rates vary across regions and demographics, reflecting a complex interplay of factors influencing the likelihood of accidents and their outcomes. This includes using safety gear, compliance with helmet regulations, effective traffic laws, and the experience and training of riders.
Here are some key risk factors associated with severe outcomes
Fatalities in 2020
The year 2020 witnessed a grim record with 5,579 motorcycle riders losing their lives in fatal traffic accidents, marking the highest number of motorcycle accident deaths since the inception of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System in 1975.
Despite motorcycles representing only 3 percent of all registered vehicles, motorcycle accidents accounted for 14 percent of all traffic deaths, 18 percent of occupant fatalities, and 4 percent of all injuries to vehicle occupants. These statistics emphasise the need for comprehensive safety measures targeting motorcycle riders.
Helmet usage significantly reduces the risk of fatal motorcycle accidents. Approximately 65 percent of motorcycle riders wear Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant helmets, while passenger rates stand at 52 percent. Encouraging widespread helmet use remains crucial in minimising the impact of head injuries, which often lead to fatalities.
Speeding is a major risk factor, accounting for 34 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents. Excessive speed reduces control, increases stopping distance, and amplifies crash energy and forces, leading to more severe outcomes.
Alcohol-involved crashes contribute to 27 percent of motorcycle accident deaths. The risk of alcohol-impaired motorcycle accidents is three times higher at night, making evening hours particularly dangerous for riders.
Time of Day
Fatal motorcycle accidents exhibit distinct patterns based on the time of day. On weekends, the most common time for motorcycle fatalities is between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., accounting for 24 percent of fatal accidents. Increased recreational riding and potential factors like fatigue or alcohol consumption during weekend evenings contribute to this heightened risk.
During weekdays, the most prevalent time for motorcycle fatalities is between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., representing 26 percent of total deaths. This can be attributed to higher traffic volume during commuting hours and the presence of motorcycles alongside other vehicles.
The statistics from 2023 regarding motorcycle accidents paint a concerning picture of the risks riders face. “The high number of injuries and fatalities, along with the prevalence of risk factors, are crucial steps toward reducing the frequency and severity of motorcycle accidents. By understanding these statistics and implementing effective measures, we can strive to create safer roadways for all motorists, including motorcycle riders.” says attorney Felix Gonzalez of Felix Gonzalez Accident and Injury Law Firm.