Statistics show motorcycle accidents are a serious concern throughout the United States. Let's look at the alarming numbers and discuss tips for motorcycle safety.

Motorcycles, with their enticing promise of freedom and thrill, have seen a surge in popularity over the years.

Yet, the rise in motorcycle riding comes with risks and challenges, especially regarding safety. The open nature of these two-wheeled machines exposes riders to a higher degree of danger than other motor vehicle types like passenger cars.

This article dives into the gritty details of motorcycle accident statistics, shedding light on the gravity of fatal collisions, the latest traffic safety facts, and what to do if you or a loved one have unfortunately been involved.

Fatality Statistics

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that motorcycle accident fatalities have reached 5,932. And despite comprising only 3.5% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the country, motorists are responsible for 14% of all traffic deaths — almost thrice as much as the figures from 1997.

Source: IIHS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) further reports that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than occupants of other vehicles, with an astonishing 80% injury or mortality rate among motorcycle accidents compared to car accidents at 20%.

Source: IIHS


Nearly 30% of fatally injured riders were younger than 30, and motorcyclists aged 50 years old and up have the highest incidence of deaths in 2021.

92% of fatal crashes in 2021 were males, and nearly 60% of female motorcyclists who died were considered occupant fatalities.

Several factors contribute to fatal motorcycle accidents, with the main causes being the following:

Remember, it’s important to always practice safe riding habits. Obey speed limits, avoid alcohol if you’re going to ride, stay focused on the road at all times, and wear a helmet.

Helmet Usage Statistics

Recent crash data underscores the life-saving importance of motorcycle helmet use.

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

Helmets are the single most important factor in surviving fatal motorcycle crashes, as cited by EHS Today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also emphasizes that while no helmet can completely prevent a concussion, it can help protect against serious brain or head injuries.

Statistics show that helmet usage can decrease fatalities significantly:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing motorcycle helmets has saved more than 25,000 lives between 2002 and 2017.

While more recent estimates are not available, it is estimated that motorcycle helmets are approximately 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries for motorcycle operators and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers.

Recent data indicates helmet usage has declined from 69% in 2020 to 64.9% in 2021. The National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) also reports that the usage of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)-compliant helmets among all motorcyclists (riders and passengers) in 2021 stood at 64.9%.

Some states in the US require all motorcyclists to wear helmets, while others only require certain riders to do so, and a few have no helmet laws at all.

New Hampshire, Iowa, and Illinois do not have helmet laws. Additionally, 29 states only require helmets for young riders, such as those below 18 or 21 or newly licensed.

States that have implemented helmet laws had a 33% lower head-related fatality rate than those without. Between 1999 and 2019, states without helmet laws witnessed around 7,000 additional deaths compared to what they could have potentially avoided otherwise.

Having helmet laws in place has undoubtedly played a crucial role in safeguarding lives and minimizing the impact of head-related fatalities in motorcycle accidents. Helmets save lives.

Source: Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)

Motorcycle Accidents by State

Motorcycle accidents are a serious concern in the United States, with some states recording higher accident rates than others.

Top 5 States with Highest Accident Rates

  1. Florida: Florida has consistently ranked with Texas as the state with the most motorcyclist fatalities, with 651 deaths in 2021. The state’s enormous population of retirees, many of whom enjoy motorcycling, coupled with its year-round warm climate, might be factors in its high accident rate. Plus, helmet use isn’t required for all motorcyclists.
  2. Texas: With a high number of registered motorcycles, Texas has a high rate of motorcycle accidents, with 515 fatalities recorded in 2021. The vast expanse of the state and its favorable weather conditions for riding might contribute to the high number of accidents. And like Florida, helmet use isn’t mandatory for all riders.
  3. California: Despite mandatory helmet use, California records a high number of motorcycle fatalities. It has an increased number of registered motorcycles, and its urban areas, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, see heavy traffic — contributing to the high number of motorcycle deaths.
  4. North Carolina: North Carolina has seen a steady increase in motorcycle accidents, with 230 fatalities in 2021. Factors such as high-speed limits on highways and increased incidence of distracted driving might have contributed to its high accident rate.
  5. Ohio: This state recorded a high number of motorcycle deaths due to its scenic routes, such as the Buckeye Trail, which passes through natural landmarks and thus attracts motorcyclists. In 2021, 223 motorcyclists lost their lives in this state.

Pennsylvania and New York also recorded a high number of motorcycle deaths due to a significant number of registered motorcycles, lack of highway safety, dense population, and heavy traffic.

Top 5 States with Lowest Accident Rates

  1. Alaska: Perhaps due to its harsh weather conditions, Alaska has one of the lowest number of motorcyclist accidents in the country. Its wide-open spaces and low population may also be factors as to why.
  2. District of Columbia: With fewer registered motorcycles and lower overall traffic volume, the District of Columbia has a low number of fatalities.
  3. North Dakota: North Dakota’s low population and limited traffic contribute to very few motorcycle crashes.
  4. Rhode Island: Despite having more registered motorcycles than states like Alaska and North Dakota, Rhode Island sees fewer motorcycle accidents due to its smaller size and less traffic congestion.
  5. Vermont: The state’s smaller population and fewer registered motorcycles might contribute to Vermont’s low accident rate.

The interesting thing to note is that of the five listed above, the District of Columbia and Vermont are the only states that require helmet use for all motorcyclists.

Source: NHTSA


Tips for Safety and Avoiding Vehicle Accidents

Motorcycle riding can be exhilarating, but it also comes with its fair share of risks. Ensuring your safety on the road requires proper training, mindfulness, bike maintenance, and sobriety.

Proper Training and Education

A comprehensive motorcycle rider education program can teach new bikers the basics of motorcycle operating and essential safety techniques. It can also help them understand and navigate traffic laws and regulations, which are non-negotiables for safe riding.

Defensive Driving and Awareness of Surroundings

Defensive driving involves high awareness of your surroundings, anticipating potential hazards, and being prepared to react quickly and safely.

Always keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and be especially wary of blind spots. It helps to be extra cautious of driver behavior on the road.

Regular Bike Maintenance and Check-ups

Like any vehicle, a motorcycle needs regular maintenance to stay in tip-top condition. Regular check-ups can identify potential problems before they become serious, life-threatening issues. Pay special attention to your bike’s tires, brakes, lights, and fluid levels. Remember to ensure your mirrors are clean and correctly positioned before each ride.

Staying Sober and Focused While Riding

Operating a motorcycle requires a high level of mental and physical focus. Alcohol, drugs, and even certain medications can significantly impair your ability to ride safely.

Unfortunately, NHTSA reports that drunk driving accounts for nearly 30% of all motorcycle fatalities.

It’s simple: If you’re planning to drink, don’t ride.

Also, avoid riding when tired, as fatigue can slow your reaction time and cloud your judgment.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident, You May Be Entitled to Compensation

Motorcycle accidents can result in significant physical, emotional, and financial hardships. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Remember, each case is unique, with circumstances influencing the compensation amount. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your rights and advocate on your behalf.

If you or a loved one has been involved in motor vehicle crashes and sustained motorcyclist injuries, Frantz Law Group can help. With a dedicated team of motorcycle accident lawyers, we are committed to ensuring your best interests are represented during these challenging times.

Contact us today.