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 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists died in motorcycle crashes, down slightly from 5,038 in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2019, motorcyclists were nearly 29 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle miles traveled.

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

 
Motorcycle Helmet Use, 2000-2019 (1)

 

Year Percent Year Percent
2000 71% 2015 61%
2005 48 2016 65
2010 54 2017 65
2013 60 2018 71
2014 64 2019 71

(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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NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,872 motorcyclists in 2017. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 749 lives could have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. In other words, for every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 of them could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets. NHTSA also found that nearly $3.5 billion in economic costs and $21 billion in comprehensive costs were saved in 2017 by the use of motorcycle helmets. Moreover, if all motorcyclists had worn helmets in 2017, an additional $1.5 billion in economic costs and $8.9 billion in comprehensive costs could have been saved. Economic costs include lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency medical service (EMS) costs, insurance administration costs, congestion costs (including travel delay and other costs), property damage, and workplace losses. Comprehensive costs include economic costs plus the valuation for lost quality of life.

 
Motorcyclist Fatalities And Fatality Rates, 2010-2019

 

Year Fatalities Registered
motorcycles
Fatality rate per
100,000 registered
motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled
(millions)
Fatality rate per
100 million vehicle
miles traveled
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 5,337 8,679,380 61.49 20,445 26.10
2017 5,226 8,664,108 60.32 20,149 25.94
2018 5,038 8,659,741 58.18 20,076 25.09
2019 5,014 8,596,314 58.33 19,688 25.47

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

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Motorcyclist Injuries And Injury Rates, 2010-2019

 

Year Injuries Registered
motorcycles
Injury rate
per 100,000
registered motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled (millions)
Injury rate
per 100 million
vehicle miles traveled
2010 82,000 8,009,503 1,028 18,513 445
2011 82,000 8,437,502 968 18,542 441
2012 93,000 8,454,939 1,103 21,385 436
2013 89,000 8,404,687 1,056 20,366 436
2014 92,000 8,417,718 1,093 19,970 461
2015 89,000 8,600,936 1,032 19,606 453
2016 (1) 104,000 8,679,380 1,203 20,445 511
2017 89,000 8,664,108 1,023 20,149 440
2018 82,000 8,659,741 945 20,076 408
2019 84,000 8,596,314 975 19,688 426

(1) NHTSA began using police-reported crash data from the Crash Report Sampling System, replacing the National Automotive Sampling System
General Estimates System (GES). NCSA has also changed the methodology of estimating people nonfatally injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.

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

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Occupant Fatality Rates By Vehicle Type, 2010 And 2019

 

Fatality rate Motorcycles Light trucks Passenger cars
2010      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 56.41 9.55 9.23
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 24.40 0.86 0.83
2019      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 58.33 6.80 9.42
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 25.47 0.64 0.89
Percent change, 2010-2019      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 3.4% -28.8% 2.1%
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 4.4% -25.6% 7.2%

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, 2019

 

  Day of Week
  Weekday Weekend Total
  Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Motorcyclists killed            
Midnight to 3 am 158 6.0% 269 11.3% 427 8.5%
3 am to 6 am 95 3.6 93 3.9 188 3.7
6 am to 9 am 227 8.7 65 2.7 292 5.8
9 am to Noon 206 7.9 189 7.9 395 7.9
Noon to 3 pm 473 18.1 337 14.1 810 16.2
3 pm to 6 pm 618 23.7 405 16.9 1,023 20.4
6 pm to 9 pm 459 17.6 601 25.1 1,060 21.1
9 pm to Midnight 362 13.9 422 17.7 784 15.6
Unknown 14 0.5 9 0.4 35 0.7
Total 2,612 100.0% 2,390 100.0% 5,014 (1) 100.0%

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

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

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Vehicles Involved In Fatal Crashes By Vehicle Type, 2010 And 2019

 

Vehicle involved 2010 2019
Passenger cars    
Involved in crashes 17,804 19,582
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 1.18 1.42
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 13.16 15.06
Light trucks (1)    
Involved in crashes 17,491 19,830
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 1.53 1.28
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 17.09 13.53
Motorcycles    
Involved in crashes 4,651 5,114
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 25.12 25.98
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 58.07 59.49

(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, 2019

 

    Alcohol-impaired crash fatalities (1)
Person type Total killed Number Percent of
total killed
Vehicle occupants      
     Driver 17,880 5,818 33%
     Passenger 5,807 1,664 29
     Unknown occupant 57 2 3
     Total 23,744 7,483 32%
Motorcyclists 5,014 1,689 34%
Nonoccupants      
     Pedestrian 6,205 816 13
     Pedalcyclist 846 106 12
     Other/unknown 287 48 17
     Total 7,338 970 13%
Total 36,096 10,142 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, 2009-2018 (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+
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 18,171 26 23 17,230 25 21 3,774 3 2 5,108 35 28
2013 17,850 27 23 16,810 25 21 3,872 4 2 4,795 35 27
2014 17,802 26 22 17,040 25 22 3,701 3 2 4,703 37 29
2015 19,688 25 21 18,763 24 21 4,019 2 1 5,126 34 26
2016 20,730 24 21 19,951 23 20 4,152 3 2 5,414 32 25
2017  20,895   24   21   19,847  23 20  4,600  4 3  5,316  35 27
2018 20,175  24   21  19,663 22 19 4,786 5 3 5,108 33 25

(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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Background on: Motorcycle crashes