Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcycles are by their nature far less crashworthy than closed vehicles. They are also less visible to other drivers and pedestrians and less stable than four-wheel vehicles. Operating a motorcycle requires a different combination of physical and mental skills than those used in driving four-wheel vehicles. Motorcyclists and their passengers are more vulnerable to the hazards of weather and road conditions than drivers in closed vehicles.

In 2012 motorcycle fatalities rose 7.1 percent to 4,957 from 4,630 in 2011. In 2011, 55 out of every 100,000 registered motorcycles was involved in a fatal crash, compared with only 9 out of every 100,000 passenger cars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). (Motorcyclists were about 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled in 2012 and five times more likely to be injured, according to NHTSA. Note: statistics on fatal motorcycle crashes are also available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

 

MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE, 1994-2013 (1)

Year Percent Year Percent
1994 63% 2007 58%
1996 64 2008 63
1998 67 2009 67
2000 71 2010 54
2002 58 2011 66
2004 58 2012 60
2005 48 2013 60
2006 51    

(1) Based on surveys of motorcyclists using helmets meeting Department of Transportation standards. Surveys conducted in October for 1994-2000 and in June thereafter.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Occupant Protection Use Survey, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Center for Statistics and Analysis.

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MOTORCYCLIST FATALITIES AND FATALITY RATES, 2003-2012

Year Fatalities Registered motorcycles Fatality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles Vehicle miles traveled (millions) Fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
2003 3,714 5,370,035 69.16 9,576 38.78
2004 4,028 5,767,934 69.83 10,122 39.79
2005 4,576 6,227,146 73.48 10,454 43.77
2006 4,837 6,678,958 72.42 12,049 40.14
2007 5,174 7,138,476 72.48 21,396 24.18
2008 5,312 7,752,926 68.52 20,811 25.52
2009 4,469 7,929,724 56.36 20,822 21.46
2010 4,518 8,009,503 56.41 18,513 24.40
2011 4,630 8,437,502 54.87 18,542 24.97
2012 4,957 8,454,939 58.63 21,298 23.27

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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MOTORCYCLIST INJURIES AND INJURY RATES, 2003-2012

 

Year Injuries Registered motorcycles Injury rate per 100,000 registered motorcycles Vehicle miles traveled (millions) Injury rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
2003 67,000 5,370,035 1,250 9,576 701
2004 76,000 5,767,934 1,324 10,122 755
2005 87,000 6,227,146 1,402 10,454 835
2006 88,000 6,678,958 1,312 12,049 727
2007 103,000 7,138,476 1,443 21,396 481
2008 96,000 7,752,926 1,238 20,811 461
2009 90,000 7,929,724 1,130 20,822 430
2010 82,000 8,009,503 1,024 18,513 443
2011 81,000 8,437,502 965 18,542 439
2012 93,000 8,454,939 1,099 21,298 436

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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OCCUPANT FATALITY RATES BY VEHICLE TYPE, 2002 AND 2011

Fatality rate Motorcycles Light trucks Passenger cars
2002      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 65.35 15.03 15.78
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 34.23 1.21 1.27
2011      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 54.66 8.95 8.90
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 24.93 0.81 0.80
Percent change, 2002-2011      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles -16.4% -40.5% -43.6%
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled -27.2 -33.1 -37.0

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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MOTORCYCLISTS KILLED BY TIME OF DAY AND DAY OF WEEK, 2012

  Day of week
  Weekday Weekend Total
Time of day Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Motorcycle riders killed          
Midnight to 3 am 176 6.8% 272 11.6% 448 9.0%
3 am to 6 am 107 4.1 88 3.8 195 3.9
6 am to 9 am 213 8.2 61 2.6 274 5.5
9 am to noon 227 8.7 197 8.4 424 8.6
Noon to 3 pm 428 16.5 343 14.6 771 15.6
3 pm to 6 pm 670 25.8 476 20.3 1,146 23.1
6 pm to 9 pm  426 16.4 534 22.8 960 19.4
9 pm to midnight 341 13.1 360 15.4 701 14.1
Unknown 12 0.5 14 0.6 38 0.8
Total 2,600 100.0% 2,345 100.0% 4,957 100.0%
             
Motorcycle riders injured          
Midnight to 3 am 1,365 2.4% 2,276 6.1% 3,641 3.9%
3 am to 6 am 1,071 1.9 732 2.0 1,803 1.9
6 am to 9 am 4,848 8.7 931 2.5 5,779 6.2
9 am to noon 6,365 11.4 5,267 14.2 11,633 12.5
Noon to 3 pm 11,011 19.7 7,669 20.7 18,680 20.1
3 pm to 6 pm 16,896 30.2 6,739 18.2 23,634 25.4
6 pm to 9 pm  10,463 18.7 7,924 21.4 18,387 19.8
9 pm to midnight 3,865 6.9 5,478 14.8 9,343 10.1
Total 55,884 100.0% 37,016 100.0% 92,900 100.0%

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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VEHICLES INVOLVED IN CRASHES BY VEHICLE TYPE AND CRASH SEVERITY, 2011

  Crash severity       
  Fatal Injury Property damage only Total
Vehicle type Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Passenger car   17,442 39.7% 1,571,000 57.0% 3,740,000 56.6% 5,328,000 56.6%
Light truck   16,740 38.1 1,026,000 37.2 2,582,000 39.0 3,625,000 38.5
Large truck   3,608 8.2 63,000 2.3 221,000 3.3 287,000 3.1
Motorcycle   4,749 10.8% 77,000 2.8% 18,000 0.3% 100,000 1.1%
Bus   244 0.6 13,000 0.5 44,000 0.7 57,000 0.6
Other   535 1.2 6,000 0.2 7,000 0.1 14,000 0.1
Total    43,495 (1)  100.0% 2,756,000 100.0% 6,612,000 100.0% 9,412,000 100.0%

(1) Includes 627 vehicles of unknown type involved in fatal crashes.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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PERSONS KILLED IN TOTAL AND ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED CRASHES BY PERSON TYPE, 2011

    Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities  (1)
Person type Total killed Number Percent of total killed
Vehicle occupants      
     Driver 16,430 5,774 35%
     Passenger 5,953 1,826 31
     Unknown occupant 65 3 4
     Total 22,448 7,603 34%
Motorcyclists 4,612 4,565 34%
Nonoccupants      
     Pedestrian 4,432 601 14
     Pedalcyclist 677 79 12
     Other/unknown 198 31 15
     Total 5,307 710 13%
Total 32,367 9,878 31%

(1) Alcohol-impaired driving crashes are crashes that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above, the legal definition of drunk driving.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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DRIVERS IN FATAL CRASHES BY BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION (BAC) AND VEHICLE TYPE, 2002-2011 (1)

  Passenger car Light truck Large truck Motorcycles
    Percent    Percent    Percent    Percent 
Year Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+
2002 27,236 27% 22% 21,562 27% 23% 4,550 3% 2% 3,363 39% 31%
2003 26,422 26 22 22,172 25 22 4,658 2 1 3,800 36 29
2004 25,568 27 23 22,367 25 21 4,837 2 1 4,116 34 27
2005 25,046 28 24 22,879 25 22 4,900 3 1 4,679 34 27
2006 24,162 27 23 22,307 28 24 4,729 2 1 4,961 34 26
2007 22,765 27 23 21,719 27 23 4,601 2 1 5,306 35 27
2008 20,379 27 23 19,095 26 23 4,040 3 2 5,405 36 29
2009 18,344 27 23 17,878 27 23 3,182 3 2 4,601 36 29
2010 17,623 27 23 17,322 26 22 3,446 3 2 4,629 36 28
2011 17,335 NA 24 16,643 NA 21 3,568 NA 1 4,741 NA 29

(1) NHTSA estimates alcohol involvement when alcohol test results are unknown.

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration.

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