Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Because of the physics involved in motorcycle accidents, the extent of personal injury or death is unusually high. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released new statistics showing that motorcycle fatalities have increased for the seventh year in a row. With more than 1,000,000 motorcycles being purchased each year (this figure has increased each of the past 14 years), the additional number of riders has resulted in fatalities increasing at an alarming rate of 89% from 2,116 in 1997 to 4,008 in 2004.
The numbers reflect that the average age of these riders is 20-29, with speeding being the number one cause of these fatal accidents. According to Motorcycle Industry Council findings, there is a high increase in the number of motorcycles purchased by riders over the age of 40 and a corresponding increasing number of fatalities with riders in this age group.
The highest percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents involved alcohol. More than 72 percent of these riders were in the age group of 40-49. One positive aspect of this statistic is that the number of alcohol related fatalities has actually decreased over the past 10 years.
More than 70% of motorcycle fatality accidents take place on undivided highways. I would suggest that this is a combination of a lack of rider education, training, inattention, excessive speed, or third-party negligence (the driver of another car or truck was careless and caused the accident).
Another disturbing but not necessarily surprising statistic is that about 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. This statistic reflects the fact that regardless of fault, there is little protection for a motorcycle rider in an accident. Unfortunately, the pain I feel in my knees, back, and right shoulder while writing this article are a constant reminder to me of this very real fact.
My research shows that since the enactment of the Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, more than 128,000 motorcyclists have sustained fatal injuries. In 2004 alone, more than 4,000 riders died and another 76,000 were injured.
Looking at the numbers, this means that about 12 motorcycle riders are involved in fatal accidents each day on our roadways. With more than four million registered motorcycles in the United States, this equates to about 11 motorcycle riders dying each day and another 208 riders sustaining injury on U.S. roadways.
Based upon our own experiences and the experiences that our clients have had, most motorcycle riders are injured because of either their own negligence or the wrongful conduct of other drivers. Other causes include mechanical defects and hazards in the roadway.
Common rider injuries include broken bones, burns, road rash, facial fractures, amputations, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and traumatic brain injury. Wearing a helmet is a smart precaution to take but unavoidable accident factors like speed and angle of impact can make the use of a helmet almost ineffective.
When it comes to safely riding a motorcycle on or off the roadway, common sense and good training will go a long way to helping make sure you make it home at the end of the day. Ride safely and enjoy the open road.