Surprise! Motorcycle Accident Statistics Defy Stereotypes

Journalistic articles usually focus on relevant facts of a situation: who, what, when, where, and why it occurred. For years, the media has cautioned that motorcycles are more dangerous to operate than cars. It's true: Motorcycle accidents have always caused more severe injuries than those involving vehicles. If you own a motorcycle, you are probably already alert to important safety issues, such as wearing a helmet and not riding between car lanes. However, according to recent statistics released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) the "who, what, when, where, and why" facts of motorcycle accidents are changing.


For years, the media has painted the stereotypical motorcycle driver as young and male. While it is true that 91% of those killed in motorcycle crashes in 2013 were males, the trend of youthful motorcyclists speeding recklessly into danger has reversed. In fact, men under the age of 30 now represent only 27% of those who lose their lives, down from 80% in 1975.

So who is in most danger of involvement in a motorcycle crash? Surprise: it's the above-50 crowd. While in 1975 only 3% of those killed in motorcycle accidents were older men, in 2013 they represented 34% of fatalities.

However, women don't escape danger. In 2013, motorcycles were dangerous for them as well:

  • 152 female motorcycle drivers died

  • 237 female passengers died

In fact, 94% of passenger deaths were women; most men who died were drivers. 


Nearly 4,400 motorcyclists died in crashes during 2013, the most recent year in which statistics are available. Unfortunately, while the number of deaths from passenger vehicles has remained fairly constant through the years, motorcycle deaths are increasing. In fact, from 1997 to 2013, these deaths have nearly tripled.


When you think of a "typical" motorcycle crash, you may imagine slick winter roads on a dark weekend night, but that contradicts the data. Progressive Insurance reports that most accidents occur in the month of May, influenced by the hail season. Further, weekdays see more accidents than weekends.


You might think that the West Coast, with its winding coastal roads and Hollywood mentality, sees the most motorcycle accidents, but the Progressive report again sets the record straight. Most claims for motorcycle crashes occur in East Coast cities: D.C., Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina.


All of these facts and figures are meaningless without some analysis. Why are deaths from motorcycle accidents increasing? Here are some possible explanations.

  • Bigger engines. There is an indirect correlation between engine sizes and the numbers of fatalities. In other words, the larger the engine, the more likely the fatality. While deaths involving engines less than 1,000 cc have declined, those involving engines greater than 1,400 cc have increased.

  • Alcohol. Sadly, alcohol is still too often a factor in motorcycle crash fatalities. A shocking 40% of fatalities in single-vehicle crashes involved a drinking motorcyclist.

  • No helmets. This is another factor that continues to figure in fatalities. Of those who died in 2013 motorcycle accidents, 38% of drivers were not wearing helmets. As mentioned above, passengers were less likely than drivers to be wearing helmets--and this resulted in a greater number of fatalities for passengers than for drivers.

What does all this data mean for you? It reiterates the basics you already know: wear your helmet and don't drive after drinking. It also gives you some new information: watch for hail, don't let your guard down just because it's Tuesday, and rethink your desire for that grizzly-big machine.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, no matter what the circumstances surrounding it, you will need an accident attorney from a firm like Bailey Law Office Ltd to help you negotiate the settlement process. A consultation is free, and you will not have to pay attorney fees until you receive an award. Call today to discuss the details of your case.

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