Facts + Statistics: 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 2016, 5,286 people died in motorcycle crashes, up 5.1 percent from 5,029 in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motorcycle fatalities have increased for the second year in a row and are at the highest level since 2008, when 5,312 people died in motorcycle crashes. In 2016, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled.

Note: statistics on fatal motorcycle crashes are also available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

 
Motorcycle Helmet Use, 1998-2016 (1)

 

Year Percent Year Percent
1998 67% 2010 54%
2000 71 2011 66
2005 48 2012 60
2006 51 2013 60
2007 58 2014 64
2008 63 2015 61
2009 67 2016 65

(1) Based on surveys of motorcyclists using helmets meeting Department of Transportation standards. Surveys conducted in October for 1996-2000 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, 2007-2016

Year Fatalities Registered
motorcycles
Fatality rate per
100,000 registered
motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled
(millions)
Fatality rate per
100 million vehicle
miles traveled
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 4,986 8,454,939 58.97 21,385 23.32
2013 4,692 8,404,687 55.83 20,366 23.04
2014 4,594 8,417,718 54.58 19,970 23.00
2015 5,029 8,600,936 58.47 19,606 25.65
2016 5,286 8,679,380 60.90 20,445 25.85

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

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Motorcyclist Injuries And Injury Rates, 2007-2016

Year Injuries Registered
motorcycles
Injury rate per
100,000 registered
motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled (millions)
Injury rate per
100 million vehicle
miles traveled
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 21,385 434
2013 88,000 8,404,687 1,052 20,366 434
2014 92,000 8,417,718 1,088 19,970 459
2015 88,000 8,600,936 1,028 19,606 451
2016 NA 8,679,380 NA 20,445 NA

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, 2006 And 2015

 

Fatality rate Motorcycles Light trucks Passenger cars
2006      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 72.42 13.01 13.08
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 40.14 1.10 1.11
2015      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 57.85 7.70 9.48
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 25.38 0.72 0.89
Percent change, 2006-2015      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles -20.1% -40.8% -27.5%
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled -36.8 -34.5 -19.8

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

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Motorcyclists Killed or Injured, by Time of Day and Day of Week, 2015

  Day of Week    
  Weekday Weekend Total
  Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Motorcyclists killed            
Midnight to 3 am 148 5.8% 267 11.1% 415 8.3%
3 am to 6 am 92 3.6 101 4.2 193 3.9
6 am to 9 am 229 9.0 65 2.7 294 5.9
9 am to Noon 234 9.2 207 8.6 441 8.9
Noon to 3 pm 411 16.1 339 14 750 15.1
3 pm to 6 pm 606 23.7 417 17.3 1,023 20.6
6 pm to 9 pm 480 18.8 595 24.6 1,075 21.6
9 pm to Midnight 345 13.5 411 17 756 15.2
Unknown 11 0.4 13 0.5 29 0.6
Total 2,556 100.0% 2,415 100.0% 4,976 (1) 100.0%
             
Motorcyclists injured            
Midnight to 3 am 1,000 2.5% 2,000 6.0% 4,000 4.1%
3 am to 6 am 1,000 1.8 1,000 2.6 2,000 2.2
6 am to 9 am 6,000 12.1 2,000 5 8,000 9.1
9 am to Noon 7,000 13.8 4,000 11.3 11,000 12.7
Noon to 3 pm 8,000 16.3 7,000 19.5 16,000 17.7
3 pm to 6 pm 14,000 27.5 6,000 17.1 20,000 23.1
6 pm to 9 pm 9,000 17.0 11,000 28.3 19,000 21.7
9 pm to Midnight 5,000 9.0 4,000 10 8,000 9.4
Total 51,000 100.0% 37,000 100.0% 88,000 100.0%

(1) Includes 5 motorcyclists killed on unknown day of week.

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

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Vehicles Involved In Crashes By Vehicle Type And Crash Severity, 2006 And 2015

  Fatal crashes Injury crashes Property damage-only
crashes
  2006 2015 2006 2015 2006 2015
Passenger cars            
Involved in crashes 24,260 19,534 1,794,000 1,785,000 4,046,000 4,438,000
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 1.50 1.37 111 126 250 312
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 17.70 14.66 1,309 1,340 2,953 3,331
Light trucks (1)            
Involved in crashes 22,411 18,675 1,202,000 1,198,000 2,932,000 3,197,000
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 1.94 1.37 104 88 254 235
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 22.85 14.66 1,225 941 2,990 2,509
Motorcycles            
Involved in crashes 4,963 5,076 84,000 84,000 15,000 13,000
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 41.19 25.89 694 430 128 66
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 74.31 59.02 1,251 980 230 150

(1) Trucks with 10,000 pounds or less gross vehicle weight. Includes pickups, vans, truck-based station wagons and utility vehicles.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Vehicle miles traveled - USDOT, Federal Highway Administration, revised by NHTSA; Registered passenger cars and light trucks - R.L. Polk & Co; Registered motorcycles - USDOT, Federal Highway Administration.

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Persons Killed In Total And Alcohol-Impaired Crashes By Person Type, 2016

    Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (1)
Person type Total killed Number Percent oftotal killed
Vehicle occupants      
     Driver 18,610 6,067 33%
     Passenger 6,407 1,880 29
     Unknown occupant 79 2 2
     Total 25,096 7,949 32%
Motorcyclists 5,286 1,600 30%
Nonoccupants      
     Pedestrian 5,987 807 13
     Pedalcyclist 840 91 11
     Other/unknown 252 50 20
     Total 7,079 948 13%
Total 37,461 10,497 28%

(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 grams per deciliter or greater, the legal definition of alcohol-impaired 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, 2006-2015 (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+
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 17,710 27 24 17,385 25 22 3,456 2 1 4,647 36 28
2011 17,401 27 24 16,706 25 21 3,594 3 1 4,761 37 29
2012 17,992 26 23 17,131 25 22 3,753 3 2 5,075 35 27
2013 17,731 27 23 16,738 25 21 3,858 4 2 4,769 34 27
2014 17,757 26 22 17,017 25 22 3,697 3 2 4,692 36 29
2015 19,413 25 21 18,570 23 20 3,996 2 2 5,071 34 27

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

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

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