Motorcycles are among the more dangerous vehicles on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the number of motorcycle crashes has dropped in recent years, but bikers are still disproportionately represented in traffic deaths.
The data collected from the NHTSA shines a light on motorcycle fatalities and their causes. The numbers highlight not only ways that motorcyclists can practice improved road safety, but how car drivers can increase motorcycle awareness and help save lives.
Statistics from the NHTSA
According to the NHTSA, nearly 5,000 motorcyclists lost their lives in traffic deaths in 2018. These deaths account for 14% of all traffic deaths in 2018 — a disproportionate amount considering how only motorcycles only account for 3% of all vehicles on the road. Breaking down the data suggests some interesting conclusions:
- Helmets: Wearing a helmet lower a biker’s risk of head injury by 69% and risk of death by 50%. Safety experts claim that helmets saved 1,872 lives in 2018 and would have saved over 700 more had those bikers worn helmets. Despite the data, three states in the U.S. still do not have compulsory motorcycle helmet laws. In those states, 50% of riders go without head protection. In states with helmet laws, 95% of riders wear helmets.
- Single-vehicle crashes: The NHTSA estimates that 34% of motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle crashes, 15% more than cars. Rider error accounts for about two-thirds of solo crashes.
- Multiple-vehicle crashes: Motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles reveal a different story. In multiple-vehicle motorcycle accidents, other drivers are at fault 67% of the time. In these accidents, cars usually violate a motorcycle’s right of way, missing the smaller vehicles when checking blind spots.
- Illegal operation: About 32% of motorcycle deaths involve speeding, while another one-third involve drunk driving. These two factors can combine to deadly effect.
- Lack of professional instruction: The NHTSA study also suggests that an astonishing 92% of motorcycle operators involved in an accident learned to ride from a friend or family member. Very few licensed motorcyclists have taken a motorcycle safety or training course.
Seek legal protections as well
The numbers collected by the NHTSA highlight the importance of wearing a helmet and watching out for motorcycles. Those involved in a motorcycle accident may have questions about filing a liability or personal injury claim. A local lawyer experienced with motor vehicle accidents can provide answers and assistance.