Motorcycle Accident Facts & Statistics
Those of us who ride motorcycles know that our hobby is rewarding but also carries risks. We enjoy the thrill of riding, and we know too well that motorcycle accidents happen. The numbers can’t be ignored.
In 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- 8.4 million motorcycles were registered in the United States, making up three percent of all registered vehicles and accounting for 0.7 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.
- Per registered vehicle, the fatality rate for motorcyclists was six times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants. The injury rate was only slightly higher, because so many motorcyclists die in crashes.
- Per vehicle mile traveled, fatalities occurred 26 times more frequently in motorcycle accidents than in passenger car crashes, and motorcyclists were nearly five times more likely to be injured.
- 4,668 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes – a decrease of six percent from the 4,986 motorcyclists killed in 2012.
- 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents, a five percent decrease from 93,000 motorcyclists injured in 2012
- Motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, 18 percent of all occupants (drivers and passengers) killed, and four percent of all occupants injured.
In North Carolina in 2013, according to the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles:
- 3,893 motorcycle accidents resulted in 154 fatal crashes (3.9 percent) and 3,167 injury crashes (81 percent)
- 656 moped accidents resulted in 25 fatalities (3.8 percent) and 571 injuries (87 percent)
- 173 motor scooter or motor bike accidents resulted in nine fatalities (5.2 percent) and 154 injuries (89 percent).
Wearing a DOT-certified helmet is the best step you can take to protect yourself from death or injury in a motorcycle accident. Since 2008, North Carolina law has required all riders to wear DOT-compliant (aka Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, or FMVSS, 218-compliant) motorcycle helmets while on a motorcycle on public roads.
A landmark study of 900 motorcycle crashes conducted by the University of Southern California stated that:
“The only significant protective equipment is the qualified safety helmet, and it is capable of a spectacular reduction of head injury frequency and severity.… This research shows NO reasons for a motorcycle rider to be without a safety helmet; qualified helmets do not limit vision or hearing in traffic or cause injury.”
Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers, according to the NHTSA.
The NHTSA says 64 percent of motorcyclists overall wear FMVSS 218-compliant helmets. In states with universal helmet laws, 89 percent of riders consistently wear helmets, compared with 48 percent in all other states.
The rate of DOT-compliant helmet use is 65 percent in the U.S. South. Elsewhere, helmet use is prevalent:
- 92 percent in the West
- 52 percent in the Northeast
- 42 percent in the Midwest
- 63 percent in suburban areas
- 58 percent in rural areas
- 51 percent in urban areas.
In addition to increasing helmet use, the GHSA also says motorcyclists will be safer if they:
- Reduce alcohol impairment. Most motorcycle accident fatalities occur when alcohol is involved
- Reduce speeding. Speeding is more dangerous for motorcyclist than any other kind of highway driver.
- Get properly licensed. Many people attempt to ride motorcycles without receiving the proper instruction and license. Licensed riders are statistically proven to have reduced risk of accidents.
Further, all drivers must learn to share the road with motorcyclists. According to NHTSA, when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the other driver is often at fault.
Sharing the road with motorcycles means:
- Allowing the motorcycle the full width of a lane at all times.
- Always signaling when changing lanes or merging with traffic.
- Checking all mirrors and blind spots for motorcycles before changing lanes or merging with traffic, especially at intersections.
- Always allowing more follow distance – three to four seconds – when behind a motorcycle. This gives them more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency.
The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor can help you obtain compensation for your injuries and other losses after a motorcycle accident in North Carolina. Jason Taylor is a motorcycle rider and an experienced North Carolina motorcycle accident attorney. He understands you, your injuries and the laws that protect your rights.
Our lawyers are nationally certified in civil trial advocacy. Contact us by calling (800) 351-3008.