Motorcycle Accidents: Statistics and Information
Over the years, the number of motorcyclists on the roads has increased. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation there were over 7.7 million motorcycles on the road in 2008 and not surprisingly, an increase of fatalities that reached 5,312 that same year. That is the highest number of deaths on the Department of Transportation’s record that was started in 1975. In 2009, the number of fatalities decreased 16 percent to 4,462. Despite the drop in deaths, it is still critical that riders educate themselves about the dangers of motorcycles.
Naturally, motorcycles are more prone to crashing than vehicles because they are open and vulnerable to the weather elements and road conditions, are on two wheels instead of four, are less visible to other drivers, and require different mental and physical skills then when driving a car.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 106,000 motorcycles were involved in crashes in 2009 and 90,000 motorcyclists were injured. Motorcyclists also accounted for 13 percent of traffic fatalities, 16 percent of all vehicle fatalities and 4 percent of all occupant injuries.
There are three major causes that attribute to the high number of motorcycle collisions: age, alcohol, and speeding.
Older motorcyclist account for half of all motorcycle fatalities; according to the NHTSA 51 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents were over the age of 40. This statistic can be explained by the diminished sensory perceptions that are needed to avoid collisions including eyesight, hearing and reaction time. Also, older motorcyclists are less likely to survive high-impact physical collisions. The next highest percentages of motorcyclists that are killed are 30-years-old or younger, accounting for 31 percent. Fatalities among motorcyclists in the 30-39 year age range account for the third highest percentage with 19 percent. Every percentage has decreased over the last ten years except for the motorcyclists over 40.
Another deadly combination for motorcycle riders is alcohol. The NHTSA reported that in 2009, 29 percent of motorcyclists that were involved in fatal accidents had blood alcohol concentration over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. This is the highest percentage of drunk driving, compared to 23 percent of car drivers, 23 percent of truck drivers, and 2 percent of semi-truck drivers.
Speeding is also a rampant cause of accidents for motorcycle riders because they are tempted to take advantage of their smaller size by weaving through traffic and disobeying the limits. In 2008, 35 percent of all motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were speeding. This number is highest in comparison to 23 percent of passenger vehicles, 19 percent of truck drivers and 8 percent of semi-truck drivers. The risk of catastrophic injury and death are much greater for a motorcyclist because of their lack of protection, so the higher the speed, the greater the chance of death.
To avoid these kinds of accidents, motorcyclists are advised to avoid drinking while driving and speeding at all times. It is also crucial that riders wear the appropriate and necessary safety gear. In 2008, motorcycle helmets saved 1,829 lives and 823 more lives could have been saved if people had worn them. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders, and are required in most U.S. states.