May 28, 2020

Statistics on Motorcycle Traffic Collisions

Causes of motorcycle crashes vary from rider and driver error to issues with faulty parts or poor maintenance. In many cases, there is an unfortunate combination of factors that cause the crash. Regardless, there are many ways to prevent injury. One way is the education of riders so they can understand the various causes of wrecks. That way, riders can try and steer clear of roadway disasters.

California in particular, big government, high gas prices, and expensive social engineering have cut considerably into the solemn property rights of Citizens domiciled in the

Pie Chart - Motorcycle Lawyers

Republic. The ability of employers and many small businesses to make a profit means that mom and pop shops that create most of the jobs are closing their doors. Jobs are fleeing California in record numbers.

Because of this, and the outrageously high costs of fuel, individuals are turning to motorcycles to afford to remain in the beautiful Golden State. Many don't want to move to an economically free state, like Texas.

Of course, riders enjoy the thrill and excitement that comes with riding. But others like members of the armed forces, ride to get to and from places quickly. Avoiding missing man formations, AWOL, or UA is an essential factor for military personnel who ride motorcycles.


Motorcycle Rider Deaths and Serious Accidents.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there are over 4,000 motorcycle fatalities on America's roads each year. Furthermore, one of the most common causes of deaths is due to head injury, according to the CDC. Motorcycle fatalities occur at far higher rates than in other automobile accidents. Also, government statistics show that motorcyclists are 37 times more likely to die due to such a crash. Additionally, this is even more shocking, considering that motorcycles are just 2% of all registered vehicles.

Unfortunately, motorcycle accident fatalities are on the rise nationwide. Between 1997 and 2008, there was not a single year in which deaths declined. The increase is not due to more motorcyclists. Instead, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rate increased separately than the increase in bikes.

Deaths and severe accidents from both pedal-powered bicycles, as well as motorcycles, have been steadily increasing since at least 1998. Noteworthy is the undisputed fact that California is the number one driver of motorcycle fatalities and collisions. [1. Motorcycle Fatalities By State] A glaring fatality characteristic for motorcyclists is the single-vehicle collision (only the motorcycle is involved). But most crashes involving riders arise when a negligent vehicle driver strikes the bike and rider.

In 2006, over 1 million motorcycles were sold to veteran and novice motorcyclists.  And as motorcycle popularity is increasing, so too is the rate of motorcycle accidents. For example, between 1997 and 2006, motorcycle fatalities increased by over 127%.

Of particular interest to researchers, the increased rate of accidents isn’t due to the more significant number of motorcycles on the road. Also, the debacle of rising accident trends shows that motorcycles only comprise 2% of all motor vehicles registered. But their reported crash and mishaps rate was 10% of all roadway calamities.

Motorcycles Deaths Compared to Deaths to Car Occupants.

Harley Davidson Motorcycle Rider

Motorcycles are much more vulnerable during a roadway accident than are automobiles. Because of this, riders can easily become a grim statistic. Motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die in an accident than four-wheeled automobile drivers. While 20% of car collisions result in injury or death, a stunning 80% of motorcycle accidents result in the same. And this goes for the passengers too. (motorcycle deaths NHTSA).

No matter what bike you buy, you need to know its strengths and weaknesses like the back of your hand. Having a great bike is not going to prevent the other guy from ruining your day to day activities.

The vulnerability of a motorcyclist is underscored by the number of fatalities to both motorcyclists and automobile drivers. These stats are based on accidents per 100 million miles of travel.

For multi-passenger automobiles, the fatality rate per 100 million miles of travel was 1.7 deaths. However, for motorcyclists, the death rate was 35.0 deaths per 100 million miles of travel. Riders are in danger even when everything seems running smoothly.

City Riding Motorcycle Statistics.

City riding in the Greater Los Angeles area appears to be the most dangerous to life and limb. Cars are not as vigilant, or downright oblivious when it comes to observing for motorcyclists traveling the roads, as they are when it comes to the less obvious car, truck, or bus.

The City, County, or State becomes a defendant in cases when the roads are poorly maintained or altered in such a way as to cause a single-vehicle collision. This happens when bikes fall in Los Angeles surface street potholes, or in poorly marked CalTrans construction zones, for example.

But still, the most significant amount of motorcycle collisions happen when standard motor vehicles strike a motorcyclist riding on the surface streets. This means riders need to pay special attention when they are cruising around, navigating driveways, and exits in cities, especially L.A.

Due to the nature of unprotected riding, serious bodily injuries, and death, are a frequent occurrence. This should come as no shock to anyone with common sense. When a person gets launched from a motorcycle, their body flails around airborne. And the rider has little control over where or how he will fall to the earth.

Many will land on their head, shatter their shoulders and collar bones and even snap their thigh bones. Spine injury is a known cause of permanent paralysis. Even a more common injury like road rash, and hairline fracture, can cause you to lose time off of work. Lack of finances becomes real.

The cards are always stacked against a wounded rider. And this unfairness is even truer when a disfigured or broken motorcyclist is unrepresented by legal counsel. Overcoming a biased police report, and gathering evidence is so important, that it is crazy to not hire a motorcycle lawyer.

What the Statistics Tell Us About Hazards to Riders.

Below, are a few of the various available statistics regarding motorcycle collision causes and types of harm. This is illustrative. But it's only based upon reported incidents. The facts as of 1981, relate that 3/4 of traffic mishaps involving motorbikes were primarily motorcars versus bikes.

The other 25% of roadway hazards injuring riders, involved single-vehicle spills caused by road defects, and strikes by objects. The studies assert that approximately 2/3 of those alarming cases, were created solely due to rider error.

A standard error is over-reliance on the rear brakes and spinning out. Curb jumping, taking corners too fast, and fast riding remains known causes of these crashes.

Left Hand Turn Accidents.

By far, riders' injuries are most significant in left-hand turn incidents. Of special interest, this type of event happens most often when a car driver attempts to beat the traffic signal while negotiating a left-hand turn. But often the reaction times won't allow the rider to avoid hitting the car at the intersection on a green or yellow light.

It cuts the rider off and causes him or her to slam into the side of the car. Although the biker had the legal right of way, the insurance company for the automobile that cut the rider off almost always tries to argue that the cyclist ran a red light. As an aside, this is why it is vital to gather witness statements of bystanders who will verify you had a green or yellow signal go ahead.

Drunk Driving Kills Motorcycle Riders?

We all know not to drink and drive. But still, one of the most tragic trends in rider killings involves alcohol usage of other drivers, or the bikers themselves. So preventable drinking and driving remain a major problem.  Also, alcohol is one of the most critical factors that cause such accidents, according to NHTSA. As a matter of fact, in 2003, a full 30% of all motorcycle accident fatalities were due in part to alcohol, with a blood-alcohol level of over 0.08 g/dL, the legal alcohol limit. Drinking and driving is a terrible factor in too many deaths.

Awareness can save your life. When riding bikes, there is a special obligation to keep track of your surroundings. Not just your life depends on it, but also other riders and drivers. Keep the roads safe and be an excellent example for the others on it.

Simply put: do not drink and drive.

Riding Gear And Safety Measures.

Statistics show fewer daylight injuries happen when headlamps remain illuminated. Also, wearing special armored riding jackets and steel toe riding boots saves lives too. Most experts say you should wear brightly colored helmets and vests as well.

And these items do help prevent lacerations, road rash, etc. But safety equipment does not always prevent more significant wounds like skull fractures and broken bones. And no safety measures will stop an aggressive auto operator with road rage. Some people have vengeful agendas and run motorcyclists over.

Could be they don’t like bikers, the color of your bike, your skin, who knows. So riders have to be on the lookout. When riding, you need to keep your head on a swivel.

Helmets Remain Vital.

Wearing a proper riding helmet is the number one lifesaver in all motorcycle accidents. And this is because head protection helps shield your brain during impacts to your cranium. Without the use of that gray matter, you would be a vegetable. A helmet drastically diminishes the chances of a head or neck injury. And this can seriously reduce the chances of a fatal brain wound, or loss of use of bodily functions post-accident.

Equipment, particularly The Department of Transportation's (DOT) approved register of riding helmets, can help reduce the severity of injuries and fatalities in accidents, but not prevent them. Deaths in 2006 were 4,810. However, stats show approximately 1,658 motorcyclists were saved by helmet usage during the same year. And as discussed, helmets should always comply with the standards of safety set by the government. Also, statisticians argue that In 2006, if 752 motorcyclists had complied with standards for their helmets, they wouldn’t have died in motorcycle accidents.

Rider Experience is Not Conclusive in Accident Reduction.

As we discussed previously, over half of the bikers in wrecks had five months or less rider experience. But astoundingly, acquaintance with the particular model of motorcycle is central to accident avoidance, not time riding bikes in general.

Over Relying on Rear Brakes.

Another interesting discovery that riders over-rely on their rear brakes often. Many believe they will flip the bike in a nosedive if they use their front brakes. But this rear brake technique creates problems like slide-outs, which are also deadly. An excellent tip for all riders is to use front and rear in tandem.


The last most significant factor in accident causation if riders and other motorists, daydreaming, ho-humming, or otherwise distracted by a phone, or electronic device, or even a soft drink.

Weight Displacement.

There is good news for Goldwingers and Harley Bagger Riders. Bikes with larger motors and overall displacement are in a lower percentage of roadway accidents. And as with any good news now comes the bad. When a larger bike does wreck, the injuries are statistically more devastating to the riders and passengers.

Inclement Weather.

Interestingly, weather conditions by and of themselves, are not a statistically significant cause of traffic collisions involving motorcycles. But bad conditions often combine with some other human-made conditions to cause these types of wrecks.

Speed and Motorcycle Accidents.

Most accidents are lower speed. Typically they travel at 30 mph or less. Most wrecks take place close to home. So a trip intended to be quick places riders most at risk. Examples include a trip to the grocery store. Having an expensive, high-performance machine can give a rider a false sense of security. Some bikes are so stable at high speeds that one forgets how fast one is accelerating. Speed is helpful sometimes, enabling bikers to get out of hazardous scenes rapidly.

Race bikes, as opposed to more lumbering, less nimble bagger bikes, come to mind. But speed can increase the chances of more severe injuries and death for a rider. As noted, the risks are much more significant than for the driver of a car.  In 2006, speed was a factor in 37% of motorcycle fatalities.

But fatalities for regular collisions involving speed were only 23%. However, most injuries from motorcycle accidents happen when the bike is traveling less than 30 miles per hour. Reducing speed doesn’t protect a vulnerable rider from all risks of the asphalt jungle.

Bottom line, if you're used to riding a race bike, and all of a sudden want a Harley, you need to adjust your riding techniques and habits. Factors to consider are the high and low-speed performance of the bike.

Fatal and Serious Injuries.

Statistics gathered from 2005 relate that individuals suffered 411 fatalities and at least 9,061 injuries while riding motorcycles. Keep in mind that these are just reported injures and accidents. There are probably even more injuries that go unreported.

With increasing riders on the streets, so too, are the injuries and riding accidents rising. The majority of injuries were from auto drivers ignoring the road, and cutting off the motorcyclist.

On a national scale, in 1997, accidents involving motorcycles that caused injuries were much lower than ever. The total number was 2,116. But ever since 1998, more and more cataclysmic riding events took place. Rider deaths have gradually risen as well.

California Cities Most Dangerous To Riders:

Los Angeles 29 716
Beverly Hills 1 15
Palm Springs 0 1
Modesto 2 51
Palmdale 0 13
Bakersfield 2 43
Barstow 0 5
Rancho Cucamonga 2 24
Victorville 0 8
Riverside 1 52

Dense Cities Most Dangerous to Bikers:

It makes sense that a dense city like L.A. or San Francisco would present challenges for riders and car drivers. There are so many distractions; it would be easy to miss seeing a cyclist until it is too late. Also, with cities come road defects, unsafe construction zones, and a whole plethora of other incidences.

Of particular interest are the accidents know as "single rider" or “single-vehicle collisions.” These account for 25% of reported injury cases. Also, a short run to the store, as opposed to a road trip is almost always more dangerous, for example. The same goes for passenger car travel. So the close to your residence, the more likely an accident will happen.

Importance of Knowing Your Bike.

Understanding the particular make and model is of supreme importance. Never assume an Enduro will perform like a Vespa. Most injuries take place within five months of owning the new bike, even for veteran riders. Rider training and absolute knowledge of the mechanics is key. Knowing the advantages and limitations of motorcycles can help unlucky riders avoid serious injuries.

For example, it teaches them how to do a controlled skid. Riding classes teach students quick lane escapes so they can avoid collisions. Also, they explore other common sense and defensive riding techniques. In particular, all riders must avoid solely relying upon their rear brakes. Veterans teach novices to ride safer and better. So what could be wrong about that?

Above, we discussed the most dangerous cities for riders in California. If you want to learn more about motorcycle wrecks, feel free to peruse our website.

Above, we discussed some motorcycle accident statistics for the various major risks to riders on California roads near Torrance, the South Bay, or Downtown Los Angeles. If you want to learn more or were in a motorcycle-related crash with injuries, feel free to reach out to Michael Ehline and discuss your potential injury case at (213) 596-9642.