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How Do Car Accidents Compare to Motorcycle Accidents?

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Important 2021 Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Important 2021 Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Dec 16, 2021

Important 2021 Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Motorcycle popularity has increased exponentially in the U.S. over the past several years. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) notes, the number of on-road motorcycles registered in the country has been steadily rising. In fact, the overall figure doubled from 4.2 million in 2002 to 8.3 million in 2018, according to the IIHS’s data.

For motorcycle enthusiasts, traffic safety is paramount. The Insurance Information Institute (III) confirms that in 2019, motorcyclists were nearly 29 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash (per vehicle miles traveled).

Let’s look at some important motorcycle accident statistics – both for the U.S. as well as California. We’ll also discuss how to file a civil claim if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

The following statistics have been provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and revised as of September 2021:

  • In 2019 there were 5,014 motorcyclists killed in the U.S., which accounted for 14% of overall traffic fatalities.
  • 30% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2019 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses.
  • In 2019, motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than drivers of any other motor vehicle type (29% for motorcycles, 20% for passenger cars, 19% for light trucks, and 2% for large trucks).
  • 42% of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2019 were alcohol-impaired.
  • Motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes at night were almost three times more frequently alcohol-impaired than those killed during the day in 2019.
  • In states without universal helmet laws, 57% of motorcyclists killed in 2019 were not wearing helmets (compared to 9% in states mandating universal helmet laws).

Motorcycle Accident Death/Fatality Statistics

The following statistics were confirmed by the NHTSA based on data provided through the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting system (FARS):

  • 5,014 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019 (slightly lower than the 5,038 motorcyclists killed in 2018).
  • Two-wheeled motorcycles accounted for 91% of all bikes involved in fatal crashes.
  • Motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities and 17% of all occupant fatalities (including both driver and passenger).
  • Of the 5,014 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes, 94% (4,733) were riders and 6% (281) were passengers.
  • From 2010 to 2019, motorcycle fatalities increased 11%, peaking in 2016.

Motorcycle Accident Injury Statistics

  • According to the NHTSA and FARS, an estimated 84,000 motorcyclists were injured in 2019 (representing a 2% increase from 82,000 motorcyclists injured in 2018).
  • Between 2010 and 2019, annual motorcycle accident injuries peaked at 104,000 in 2016.
  • Yearly motorcycle accident injuries have decreased slightly since 2016’s peak, with 89,000 occurring in 2017, 82,000 in 2018, and 84,000 in 2019.

How Do Car Accidents Compare to Motorcycle Accidents?

In the U.S., motorcycles represented 3% of all registered vehicles in 2019, accounting for just 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled. But the fatality rate for motorcyclists, per the NHTSA, was 58.33 – more than six times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants (9.42) and almost nine times the fatality rate for light-truck occupants.

But the injury rate for motorcyclists (975) was actually lower than the injury rate for passenger car occupants (1,152) in 2019. However, the motorcycle injury rate that year was in fact higher than the injury rate of light-truck occupants (648).

In terms of vehicle miles traveled – an important safety indicator – the fatality rate for motorcyclists (25.47) was 29 times more than the passenger car occupant fatality rate (0.89) and nearly 40 times the light-truck occupant fatality rate (0.64). Although the overall injury rate for motorcyclists was lower than passenger cars in 2019, when viewing that statistic per vehicle miles traveled the following was found:

  • The motorcyclist injury rate (426) was almost four times higher than the injury rate of passenger car occupants (109).
  • The motorcyclist injury rate (426) was nearly seven times higher than the injury rate of light-truck occupants (61).

Where and When Do Motorcycle Accidents Most Commonly Occur?

The NHTSA has provided the following statistics regarding the specific environments where motorcycle crash fatalities often occur, as well as the conditions that impact motorcycle accidents:

  • 61% of the motorcycle fatalities occurred in urban areas compared to 39% in rural areas.
  • 66% of motorcycle accidents occurred at locations that were not intersections (compared to 34% at intersections).
  • 97% of motorcycle accidents occurred in clear/cloudy conditions compared to 2% in rain conditions and 1% in snow/sleet, fog, or other conditions.
  • 57% of motorcycle accidents occurred during daylight compared to 38% in the dark, 4% during dusk, and 1% during dawn.
  • 91% of motorcycle accidents occurred on non-interstate roads compared to 9% on interstates.

The NHTSA offered the following chart (*data provided by FARS):

Motorcyclist Fatalities in Relation to Land Use, Motorcyclist Location, Weather, Light Condition, and Functional System, 2019

Motorcyclist Fatalities in Relation to Land Use, Motorcyclist Location, Weather, Light Condition, and Functional System, 2019

If you experienced a motorcycle accident injury, don’t wait to file a claim. Contact our expert attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Common Motorcycle Accident Types/Scenarios

According to 2019 data provided by the NHTSA, the following statistics have been confirmed related to common motorcycle accident types or scenarios:

  • A collision with a motor vehicle in transport was considered the most harmful event in 2019 for 2,811 (55%) of the 5,114 motorcycles involved in fatal crashes.
  • In two-vehicle fatal crashes, 76% of the motorcycles were struck in the front (only 7% were struck in the rear).
  • Motorcycles were more frequently involved in fatal collisions with fixed objects than were other vehicles. 23% of motorcycles involved in fatal crashes in 2019 collided with fixed objects (compared to 16% for passenger cars, 13% for light trucks, and 4% for large trucks).
  • There were 2,495 fatal two-vehicle crashes each involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle in 2019.
  • In 41% (1,034) of those crashes, the other vehicles were turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles. Both vehicles were going straight in 558 crashes (representing 22%).

How Often is Speeding a Factor in Motorcycle Accidents/Crashes?

For a motorcycle accident to involve speeding (or be considered speeding-related), the NHTSA looks for the following criteria:

  • If the driver was charged with a speeding-related offense
  • If an investigating police officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash

In 2019, 33% of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding (compared to 19% for passenger car drivers, 15% for light-truck drivers, and 8% for large-truck drivers).

Which States Have the Most Non-Helmeted Motorcycle Deaths?

The NHTSA has provided the following table indicating which states have the highest percentages of unhelmeted motorcycle accident fatalities (*based on FARS data):

Percentage of Known Unhelmeted* Motorcyclists Killed, 2019

Percentage of Known Unhelmeted* Motorcyclists Killed, 2019

California Motorcycle Accident Statistics

California and Florida have the largest number of registered motorcycles (by a wide margin). In California, the following statistics have been confirmed by the Office of Traffic Safety:

  • Motorcycle fatalities decreased 9.4% from 523 in 2018 to 474 in 2019.
  • Motorcyclist deaths from not wearing a helmet decreased 18% from 34 in 2018 to 28 in 2019.

Motorcycle Safety Information

The NHTSA confirms that wearing a helmet is the “single most important way” for riders to protect themselves from head injuries. But beyond wearing a helmet, it’s also important for passenger cars and trucks to drive cautiously when in the vicinity of motorcycles.

The NHTSA encourages car and truck drivers to:

  • Always be on the look-out for motorcyclists.
  • Note that a motorcycle’s smaller size means it can be hidden in your vehicle’s blind spot.
  • Note that a motorcycle’s size and narrow profile can make it difficult to judge its distance and speed. Accordingly, take extra care when judging when to turn or merge.
  • Keep a safe distance from the motorcycle in front of you; motorcyclists can slow their bikes by downshifting instead of using their brakes (as a result, the brake lights won’t come on).
  • Remember that motorcyclists sometimes change positions in their lane to avoid debris on the road.

Ready to file a claim and pursue justice through a financial damages award? Our expert attorneys are available online or by phone now.

Filing a Motorcycle Accident Personal Injury Claim

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, the recovery process may be both long and grueling. Many motorcycle accident injuries require significant medical care and rehabilitation. Accordingly, injured motorcyclists may need to file a civil lawsuit to ensure all applicable damages are obtained, allowing for a full and complete recovery – both physically and financially.

Common damages that may be obtained through a motorcycle accident injury lawsuit include:

  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical care costs
  • Physical therapy costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Diminished quality of life

For a free consultation with a Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyer from Dordulian Law Group (DLG), contact us today at 818-322-4056. There is never any fee until one of our experienced and proven motorcycle accident lawyers recovers a maximum financial damages award for your claim.

DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County who has been fighting for injured victims and helping them secure justice for more than 25 years. To date, DLG’s personal injury lawyers have recovered more than $100,000,000 for injured victims like you while maintaining a 98% success record.


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