Motorcycle accident statistics 2024

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Dangerous accidents involving motorcycles — defined as motor vehicles that have three or fewer wheels — occur more frequently than those involving passenger cars. The lack of internal protection for motorcyclists puts them at a higher risk than occupants of enclosed vehicles.

Given the various safety risks associated with riding a motorcycle, several U.S. states have created laws promoting helmet use among motorcyclists.

Key insights

In 2021, the number of motorcyclist deaths in the U.S. per mile traveled was nearly 24 times the number of deaths in cars per mile traveled.

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While the rate of motorcycle fatalities per vehicle mile traveled increased by over 12% from 2012 to 2022, the rate has decreased in recent years, dropping by over 16% from 2020 to 2022.

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The most harmful event for the majority of motorcycle crashes that ended in a fatality was a collision with a motor vehicle in transport.

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States that legally require all motorcyclists to wear helmets have a far lower share of unhelmeted motorcyclists who die in motorcycle accidents (9%) than states that don’t have such universal laws (55%).

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General motorcycle accident statistics

More motorcycles are on the roads now than 20 years ago, resulting in an increase in fatalities. Motorcyclists are at a higher risk of injury or death than occupants of passenger cars due to limited safety measures, including restraints.

  • The number of motorcycles registered in the U.S. almost doubled from 2002 to 2023, increasing from 4.3 million to 8.8 million during that period of just over 20 years.
  • Between 2020 and 2021, total motorcycle vehicle miles traveled in the U.S. rose from about 17.95 billion miles to approximately 19.64 billion miles.
  • An estimated 42,795 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2022, including occupants and nonoccupants. Motorcycle crashes accounted for 6,218, or about 15%, of those fatalities, despite the fact that motorcycles made up only about 3% of registered vehicles in the U.S. that year.

Motorcycle crash data

The most dangerous type of accident for a motorcyclist is a collision with a motor vehicle in transport. These types of collisions were deemed responsible for 56.8% of motorcycle fatalities and 55.9% of motorcycle crashes that resulted in injuries in 2021.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic accidents that do not involve a collision, which include vehicle rollovers and falls from a vehicle, are far more likely to be the cause of injuries among motorcyclists (24.8%) than they are for other types of motorists, such as those in large trucks (19.1%) and passenger cars (3.7%).

Motorcycle riders often attribute motorcycle crashes to the failures of other vehicles’ drivers. A plurality of respondents to a motorcycle crash causation study said that a perception failure on the part of the other driver was the primary factor that caused their motorcycle accident.

Data from the NHTSA indicates that alcohol impairment is a major factor in motorcycle crashes. A higher percentage of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes in 2021 were impaired by alcohol than the percentages of alcohol-impaired passenger car, light truck or large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes that year.

In 2022, the number of alcohol-impaired motorcycle drivers involved in fatal traffic crashes increased by 1.3%.

Speeding is also a major factor in motorcycle crashes. In 2021, 56% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of their crash. Those who were both speeding and impaired by alcohol made up 12% of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes that year.

Motorcycle injuries per year

In 2022, 82,687 injuries from motorcycle accidents were reported in the U.S., which worked out to about 348 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That was a decrease in both the total number of motorcycle injuries and the injury rate from the previous year. The number of motorcycle accident injuries in 2022 was also the third-lowest recorded annually since 2016.

Motorcycle deaths per year

In 2022, 6,218 deaths from motorcycle accidents were reported, which is about 26.16 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

Motorcycle fatality levels vary significantly by state. The three states with the most motorcycle-related deaths — Florida, California and Texas — are also the states with the highest total populations in the U.S., albeit not in that order. Many of the states with the most motorcycle fatalities generally have relatively warm weather throughout the winter, making motorcycle riders more likely to be on the roads year-round.

States with the most motorcycle fatalities in 2022

Below are the top 6 states with the most fatalities by motorcyle.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Safety Council

Only four states and Washington, D.C., recorded fewer than 20 deaths from motorcycle accidents in 2022. These places have relatively small numbers of registered motorcycles, and they also experience cold weather and sometimes harsh winters, making it less likely for motorcyclists to be on the road throughout the entire year like they may in warmer areas.

States with the fewest motorcycle fatalities in 2022

Below are the 6 states with the lowest number of fatalities by motorcycle.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and National Safety Council

What causes motorcycle deaths?

Data trends for 2022 showed that a larger share of motorcycle fatalities occurred in urban areas (66%) than in rural areas (34%). Motorcycle traffic deaths were also more likely to happen during clear or cloudy weather (about 84%). Surprisingly, very few (about 2%) deaths were reported during rainy weather.

According to data collected by the NHTSA, about 48% of all motorcycle fatalities in 2021 occurred in June, July, August and September. Fatalities are more likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. than at any other time of day, as 43% of all crashes occurred between those hours that year.

The most harmful event for crashes that ended in a fatality was a collision with another motor vehicle (58%). Crashes involving two vehicles account for about 54.7% of motorcycle fatalities. While a majority (about 60.3%) of motorcyclists who died in crashes were helmeted, a significant portion (about 36.1%) were not wearing a helmet when the fatal crash occurred.

Motorcycle safety data

Riding a motorcycle is much more dangerous than driving a car. The NHTSA indicates that the number of people who die from motorcycle accidents is almost 24 times the number of people who die from car accidents per mile traveled, according to data released in 2021.

A study of motorcycle drivers involved in fatal crashes per 10,000 registered vehicles from 2003 to 2019 found that motorcycles with anti-lock braking systems were associated with a 22% reduction in motorcycle crash fatalities.

Motorcycle helmet usage

Despite fatality statistics, studies show that motorcyclists who wear helmets reduce their risk of injury or death during a crash. A study conducted in 2008 found that wearing a helmet was 69% effective in preventing head injuries among motorcyclists.

Most states have some form of helmet-use law. Only three states — Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire — have no laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. Universal helmet laws requiring all motorcycle riders to wear helmets are present in 18 states. The other 29 states have partial laws, which vary in detail. For example, Arizona’s partial law requires motorcyclists ages 17 and younger to wear a helmet but does not require moped riders of any age to wear one.

When looking at states without universal helmet laws, 55% of those who died in motorcycle accidents in 2021 were not wearing helmets. That’s dramatically higher than the 9% who were unhelmeted and who died that year in states with universal helmet laws.

Helmet use not only saves lives but also saves money. The Department of Transportation estimates that if all motorcycle riders had worn helmets in 2017, about $1.5 billion in economic costs — like lost productivity, medical expenses and legal and court costs — could have been saved.

FAQ

Where are fatal motorcycle accidents most likely to occur?

Fatal motorcycle accidents are far more likely in urban locales than rural areas, as 67% of motorcycle crash fatalities occurred in urban areas in 2021. More than half of fatal motorcycle crashes occurred on non-interstate major roads in urban and rural areas that year, compared with 11% on interstates and 35% on minor roads.

What state has the most motorcycle fatalities?

Florida had more motorcycle fatalities than any other state in 2022, with 668 fatal motorcycle crashes that year. However, that figure is slightly skewed by Florida’s relatively high population. Its per capita rate of motorcycle fatalities — i.e., the number of motorcycle crash fatalities per 100,000 residents — is 2.99, ranking it third behind South Carolina (3.41) and Arkansas (3.17).

How effective are helmets in motorcycle crashes?

According to the Department of Transportation, helmets are 37% effective in preventing crash fatalities among motorcycle drivers and 41% effective in preventing crash fatalities among motorcycle passengers.


References

  1. Teoh ER. “Motorcycles registered in the United States, 2002-2023.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Evaluated April 10, 2024.Link Here
  2. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Motorcycles.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 9, 2024.Link Here
  3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2022.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 9, 2024.Link Here
  4. “Motorcycles.” National Safety Council. Evaluated April 10, 2024.Link Here
  5. “Motorcyclist deaths and death rates, 2007-2022.” National Safety Council. Evaluated April 10, 2024.Link Here
  6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Traffic Safety Facts 2021.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 9, 2024.Link Here
  7. Federal Highway Administration. “Motorcycle Crash Causation Study: Final Report.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 9, 2024.Link Here
  8. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Summary of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 9, 2024.Link Here
  9. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Overview of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes in 2022.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 12, 2024.Link Here
  10. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Speeding.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 12, 2024.Link Here
  11. Teoh ER. “Motorcycle antilock braking systems and fatal crash rates: updated results.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Evaluated April 13, 2024.Link Here
  12. “Motorcycle Injury Prevention.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Evaluated April 11, 2024.Link Here
  13. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Lives and Costs Saved by Motorcycle Helmets, 2017.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 12, 2024.Link Here
  14. “Motorcycle helmet use laws.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Evaluated April 10, 2024.Link Here
  15. “Fatality Facts 2021: Motorcycles and ATVs.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Evaluated April 13, 2024.Link Here
  16. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Unintentional (Includes undetermined) Motorcyclist Nonfatal Emergency Department Visits and Rates per 100,000.” WISQARS Fatal and Nonfatal Injury Reports. Evaluated April 14, 2024.Link Here
  17. “Motorcyclist Fatalities, by State.” U.S. Department of Transportation. Evaluated April 14, 2024.Link Here
  18. “Motorcycles and Similar Vehicles.” California Highway Patrol. Evaluated April 17, 2024.Link Here
  19. Carlier, M. “Number of motor vehicles registered in the United States from 1990 to 2022.” Statista. Evaluated April 17, 2024.Link Here

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