Motorcycle accidents are a growing concern in the United States, and nowhere is this issue more stark than in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles.

Over the last decade, the fatality rate of motorcycle accidents nationwide has increased, with the fatality count now standing ominously at 5,932 to date. In 2021 alone, a staggering 6,084 motorcycle riders lost their lives on the roads—a 21% increase from two years ago.

With its dense traffic and high-speed highways, Los Angeles presents unique challenges for riders. The city contributes significantly to the alarming statistic of motorcycle fatalities—despite being a minority on the road.

This article delves deeper into the prevalence of motorcycle accidents in the United States, focusing on the City of Angels. We’ll explore the factors contributing to this rise, examine some sobering statistics, and discuss potential solutions to mitigate this growing public safety issue.

Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents

Some motorcycle accident statistics draw a concerning picture of road safety in the United States:

Nationwide Data

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), motorcycle fatalities have reached 5,932.

Forbes reports that motorists account for 14% of all traffic deaths despite making up only 3.5% of all registered vehicles in the country.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further highlights this alarming disproportionality, showing an astonishing 80% injury or mortality rate among motorcycle accidents compared to car accidents at 20%.

The NHTSA also reveals that 55% of motorcyclists killed nationwide in 2021 were not wearing helmets.

Furthermore, 2021 saw an increase in alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes across all vehicle types, and motorcyclists experienced an alarming 18.8% rise in alcohol-impaired drivers contributing to fatal accidents.

Statewide Data

In California, 13% of motor vehicle fatalities were from motorcyclists. And it’s not just a local problem—motorcycle deaths have increased by 2.9% in California and 7.7% nationwide between 2020 and 2021.

Disturbing Decrease in Helmet Use

According to the 2021 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), only 64.9% of US motorcyclists use helmets that comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Shockingly, this number of motorcycle helmet use drops even further in states without universal helmet laws. On the other hand, states with stricter helmet laws have seen a significant increase in helmet use to 86.1%.

Most Dangerous Crash Types Revealed

The top five crash types involving motorcycles are downright dangerous. Broadside, overturned, hit objects, rear end, and sideswipe accidents make up the majority of motorcycle crashes.

Leading Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

Speeding poses the highest risk for motorcycle crashes, accounting for 29.1% of fatal accidents. Improper turning and automobile right of way are also common causes of motorcycle accidents at 21.9% and 16.0%, respectively. Unsurprisingly, drunk driving and unsafe lane changes follow closely.

Urban Roads Prove Deadlier

A staggering 74% of motorcycle fatalities occur on urban roads, compared to 26% on rural roads. With principal arterials being the most common location for fatal motorcycle crashes, it’s clear that bikers are at a heightened risk in urban areas.

Peak Danger on the Road

Saturday and Sunday are the riskiest days for motorcyclists, accounting for 40% of fatal and serious injury crashes. Specifically, Saturday afternoons from 12-6 p.m. are the peak time of day.

In Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the #1 county in California with the highest number of fatalities and serious injuries. It accounts for 120 deaths (followed by San Bernadino at 47) and 821 severe injuries (with San Diego as the second at 319). 

county motorcycle fatalities

motorcycle statistics by city in califfornia

Source: Motorcycle Fatalities and Serious Injuries by County in 2021


This is a stark difference in the number of fatalities and severe injuries recorded in LA compared to other countries in the top five (San Bernardino, San Diego, Sacramento, Riverside, and Orange).

It reflects how LA’s dense and busy streets and increased highway speeds, like the infamous Interstate 405, make for a dangerous combination for motorcyclists.

Factors Contributing to Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents are complex events that various factors can influence.

Weather Conditions

Motorcycles are more susceptible to adverse weather conditions than other passenger vehicles. Rain, snow, and ice can make roads slippery and reduce tire traction, making it harder for riders to control their bikes and stop quickly.

Heavy rain or fog can also reduce visibility. These road conditions make it difficult for riders to see obstacles or other vehicles in time to react.

To minimize the risk of fatal motorcycle accidents in adverse weather conditions, riders should consider not riding in extreme weather, using tires suitable for wet or icy conditions, and wearing high-visibility clothing and safety gear to increase their visibility to other road users.

Rider Experience

Lack of experience and overconfidence are significant contributors to motorcycle accidents. Novice riders may lack the skills to handle unexpected situations, while overconfident riders may take unnecessary risks, such as speeding or performing dangerous maneuvers.

Motorcycle safety courses can help riders of all levels improve their skills and knowledge, potentially reducing the likelihood of an accident.

Regular practice, particularly in varying conditions and environments, can also help riders become more confident and capable.

Traffic Congestion

The speed and behavior of other drivers, combined with the small size and maneuverability of motorcycles, can create dangerous situations. For example, a car driver might not see a motorcycle in their blind spot and change lanes, causing a collision.

Riders can reduce their risk in congested traffic by practicing defensive riding techniques, such as maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, staying out of blind spots, and being alert to the actions of other drivers.

Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

As any seasoned motorcyclist knows, riding a motorcycle brings certain inherent risks. Let’s dive deep into three common types of motorcycle accidents: rear-end collisions, intersection accidents, and lane splitting.

Rear-End Collisions

A rear-end collision occurs when a vehicle crashes into the one in front of it. Common causes include distracted driving, tailgating, and sudden braking.

Though often seen as minor incidents for passenger cars, these accidents can be extremely dangerous for motorcyclists. The primary reason? Lack of protection.

Unlike car drivers, motorcyclists don’t have the luxury of crumple zones or seat belts to absorb the impact. Even at low speeds, the impact can send a rider flying off the bike, leading to serious injuries.

Intersection Accidents

Intersections are hotspots for motorcycle accidents. Drivers failing to see motorcycles is a major contributing factor.

A car making a left turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle is typical. Even when abiding by traffic rules, riders can be in dire situations because other drivers misjudge their speed or don’t see them.

Given the lack of protective barriers around a motorcycle, riders are more likely to get hurt and suffer severe or fatal injuries. For instance, a rider could be thrown from their bike into the path of oncoming traffic, sustain head injuries, or get trapped under a vehicle.

Lane Splitting

Lane splitting, the practice of riding between lanes of slow or stopped cars, is controversial. Some argue that it reduces traffic congestion and protects riders from rear-end collisions. Others, however, point to the risks of proximity to cars, sudden lane changes, and limited space to maneuver.

Variables like speed limit and road congestion significantly affect the safety of lane splitting. Riding significantly faster than the surrounding traffic or lane splitting in heavy congestion increases the risk of an accident.

While lane splitting can be beneficial in certain situations (and legal in California, unlike in other states), it requires excellent riding skills and acute awareness of surroundings. Riders should always consider the current traffic conditions and their abilities before deciding to lane split.

Legal Recourse After a Motorcycle Accident

When you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, seeking legal counsel is not merely an option—it’s a necessity. Here’s why:

Dealing with insurance companies: Insurance companies often aim to minimize the amount they pay out. An attorney can help negotiate with these companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

Filing legal claims: Attorneys can guide you through filing legal claims, ensuring that all necessary documents are completed and submitted within the required timeframes.

Determining fault: Establishing who is at fault in a motorcycle accident can be complex. With our extensive experience in this field, we can help gather evidence, interview witnesses, and work with accident reconstruction experts to build a compelling case on your behalf.

Understanding jurisdiction-specific laws: Laws governing motorcycle accidents can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. As a law firm well-versed in California’s motorcycle laws, we can help you understand and navigate these laws effectively.

How Frantz Law Group Can Help You

Frantz Law Group has built a solid reputation as one of California’s leading law firms specializing in motorcycle accident cases. Our rich history and vast experience have equipped us with the knowledge and skills to handle even the most complex cases successfully.

At Frantz Law Group, we understand that the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re committed to guiding you through every step of the legal process.

Our team of personal injury lawyers will take the time to understand your unique situation and devise a legal strategy that best suits your needs. We’ll handle everything from gathering evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing you in court if necessary.

Our ultimate goal is to secure the maximum compensation for your injuries, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Our track record of success in motorcycle accident cases attests to our commitment to achieving the best outcomes for our clients.

Get the Legal Support You Need with Frantz Law Group

Motorcycle accidents can turn your life upside down, but you don’t have to face the aftermath alone. With Frantz Law Group by your side, you can be confident that your case is in expert hands.

Contact us today for a free consultation and let our motorcycle accident attorneys help you get the justice and compensation you deserve.