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Motorcycle Statistics Every Biker Should Know:

The Latest Data:

For the interest of safety, you every biker should know the latest statistics to make them a better rider. The data can be overwhelming, so we’ve done the hard work for you. The statistics below are from the National Highway Traffic Administration’s latest Traffic Safety Facts publication on Motorcycles (July 2019), and the IIHS Fatality Statistics (2018).

1. Helmet Use

In our opinion, the most important statistic of all: in 2017, the NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists. If every biker wore a helmet, they estimate an additional 749 lives could have been saved.

Map of Percent Known Unhelemted Motocyclists Killed, by State, 2017

Helmets are estimated to be about 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to bikers – even slightly more so for their passengers (41%). Putting it into easily understandable numbers, for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes while not wearing helmets, 37 of them could have been saved if they had all worn helmets.

In Florida, only riders under the age of 20 are required to wear a helmet. Don’t become one of the statistics above – wear your helmet when out on the road, and make sure it meets the DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. You can learn more about choosing the right helmet here.

Man holding motorcycle helmet
2. Rider Error

Another scary statistic – more than half of the bikers involved in crashes had less than five months of experience with the motorcycle they were riding at the time of the crash, and 92% of all riders involved in crashes were self-taught. Don’t get a bike without planning to take a motorcycle safety training course. It may very well be that the experience you glean from that course might save your life.

3. Drug & Alcohol Use

Speaking of sobering, motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were more likely to be impaired than their vehicular counterparts (27% for bikers, compared to 21% for passenger car drivers). Driving impaired doesn’t discriminate by age – in 2017, 38% of impaired bikers killed were in the 40-44 age group. We really can’t stress how dangerous it is to ride when you aren't sober! 43% of riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2017 were alcohol-impaired.

This number jumps to a whopping 61% when looking at crashes occurring on weekend nights. At most, you’ll have about two seconds to react if faced with an oncoming collision. That is an extremely short amount of time, even when sober. Impaired drivers are much more likely to over brake or under brake while reacting, which severely increases their chances of serious injury or death.

4. Speeding/Unlawful Speed

Speeding is a huge problem in fatal motorcycle accidents. In 2017, 32% of all bikers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. Compared to the rate of speeding passenger car drivers (18% of those involved in fatal crashes were driving over the limit). The truth is: Ignoring speed limits is asking for trouble, especially for motorcyclists.

For an example, see this YouTube video, where bikers violated this rule, fast forward to minute 5:30 of the video and see a real life example of how "speed" causes a serious motorcycle crash, with life-threatening injuries.

5. Licensing

One of the more surprising statistic we collected: In 2017, nearly 1 out of every 3 motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were riding without a valid motorcycle license. That’s an unnerving statistic. Make sure you are licensed (and insured).

Motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were 1.3 times more likely than passenger car drivers to have previous license suspensions or revocations (21.1% and 16.6%, respectively).

Previous Driving Records of Drivers Involved in Fatal Traffic Crashes, by Vehicle Type, 2017
6. Motorcycle Fatalities

Motorcycles are grossly overrepresented in fatal motor vehicle crashes – according to the NHTSA’s 2017 data:

  • Motorcycle deaths reached 5,337 in 2016 – the highest number of motorcyclists killed in a single year since the NHTSA began collecting fatal crash data in 1975.
  • This accounted for 14% of total highway crash deaths – even though bikers only make up about 3% of the road traffic, according to the NHTSA’s findings.
  • Per vehicle miles traveled, bikers are almost 28 times more likely than car drivers to die in a traffic crash.
Motorcyclists Killed and Injured, and Fatality and Injury Rates, 2008-2017

In 2016, there were 600 fatal motorcycle accidents in Florida – meaning that our state alone accounted for about 11% of those accidents.

7. Environmental Factors

You might think most motorcycle crashes occur during inclement weather, like rain, fog, or snow. The truth is: 97% of motorcyclist fatalities in 2017 occurred in cloudy or clear conditions. You also might think motorcycle crashes occur on the interstate, where high-speeds are more common, and traffic is less predictable. The truth is: 91% of fatal crashes occurred on non-interstate roads.

Motorcycle Traffic Fatalities, by Land Use, Motorcyclist Location, Weather, Light Condition, and Roadway Function Class, 2017

8. Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)

In 2018, the rate of fatal crashes was 31% lower for motorcycles equipped with optional ABS than those without. Antilock Braking Systems allow you to brake fully, without fear of your brakes locking up. This can help you avoid a serious fall if you need to hit your brakes hard. It doesn’t take a stats wizard to realize their importance. A little more than half of standard motorcycle models today are equipped with ABS – if you have the option, you should have them.

Knowing Safety Stats – Makes You A Better Biker:

These statistics are not meant to scare you – rather, they are meant to sober you. Riding a motorcycle is an incredibly fun and exhilarating but potentially dangerous hobby, no matter how experienced, conscious, and careful you might be. You should be taking every measure you can to keep yourself safe.

Wear your helmet. Take a safety course. Don’t ride when you are even slightly impaired, and remember that while going fast is fun, speeding on a motorcycle can lead to much more serious injuries than speeding in a car.

If you feel this summary was helpful, please feel free to "share" with a friend and encourage them to share with others.

Recall the phrases:

  • "Helmets Save Lives!"
  • "Ride Safe/Ride Sober!"
  • "Don't Drink & Drive!"
  • "Over The Limit/Under Arrest!"
  • "Don't Text & Drive!"
  • "Wear All The Gear All The Time!"
  • "It’s Not The Destination/It’s The Journey!"
  • "There’s No Such Thing As A Long Ride With Great Friends!"
  • "Arrive Alive!"

There is also a saying: "Knowledge is Power!"

By sharing this summary of statistics with another biker, they may thank you later.

Ride Safe, Brad

Do you need an experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
Call Brad Souders any time, day or night, at 1-866-464-5291 for a FREE, immediate consultation. A lifetime biker, and award-winning attorney with more than 25 years’ experience – A Biker Representing Bikers!

Attorney Brad Souders has a main office in Tampa, representing injured bikers and their families throughout the state of Florida.

Can’t come to us? Brad can come to you. He offers FREE INITIAL CONSULTATIONS, also offering HOME, HOSPITAL & EVENING or WEEKEND appointments by request. After hours, simply call Brad’s cell at 813-220-7767.