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As a motorcycle rider, you likely know the dangers of getting on the road. If you don’t, you should familiarize yourself with the statistics, common hazards, and how to avoid them. Motorcycles can offer enjoyment, excitement, and relaxation. But whether you’re riding a Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Ducati, or another bike, you face greater danger than other motorists. So, just how much more dangerous are motorcycles than cars?

Of the 25 most common causes of death, motorcycle accidents rank 12th.

Updated: 8/5

Common reasons for motorcycle accidents

First, let’s debunk some myths to provide the most authentic representation of the most common reasons for motorcycle accidents.

According to NBA Attorneys at Law, there are three common misconceptions about motorcyclists. (1) They’re careless young people. (2) They frequently speed or drive drunk. And (3) they’ll all be involved in an accident eventually. In fact, the American Motorcyclist Association found that an average motorcycle rider is a 48-year-old man with a household income of $85,300. Brunning Law revealed that alcohol plays a role in almost half of all traffic fatalities regardless of the vehicle at fault. And it’s a false generalization to assume every motorcyclist will be in an accident. 

Riders and other motorists alike contribute to common causes of motorcycle accidents. According to Dan Dan the Fireman, common accidents that motorcyclists cause include panic braking, lack of lights and high-visibility gear, and failure to see objects in their path. Too much speed through corners and lack of attention to oil, debris, or gravel on the road can also cause a bike to lose traction and crash.

Motorists cause common motorcycle accidents in a few ways. Turning left or merging in front of riders, rear-ending them, and opening a car door into their path all cause accidents, WW Injury law says.

On both sides, drunk driving is a common cause.

Motorcycle safety stats vs. car safety stats

The following comparisons show the statistical differences between motorcycles and cars regarding the risk of fatality, injury, and death.

According to Adam S. Kutner, Attorney at Law, “13 cars out of every 100,000 are involved in a fatal accident, but motorcycles have a fatality rate of 72 per 100,000.” Also, for every mile traveled, motorcyclists are 35 times likelier to have a fatal accident than car drivers. And 98 percent of multi-vehicle collisions and 96 percent of single-vehicle accidents result in injury to a motorcyclist.

Adam S. Kutner, Attorney at Law, also found that motorcyclists are 26 times likelier to die in a traffic accident than someone in a car and five times likelier to be hurt. Plus, motorcycles account for one-quarter of motorcyclist deaths when striking a fixed object but only 18 percent of car accident fatalities.

The Insurance Information Institute released some important statistics. Fatality rates per 100,000 registered vehicles were 59.34 for motorcycles, 7.52 for light trucks, and 10.05 for passenger cars in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available). III also shows that the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 25.67 for motorcycles, 0.7 for light trucks, and 0.94 for passenger cars in the same year. And of vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2017, 21,031 were passenger cars, 19,986 were light trucks, and 5,326 were motorcycles.

At first glance, motorcyclists seem to be involved in fewer fatal crashes. But their rates per 100,000 registered vehicles say otherwise. Motorcycles had a rate of 61.11 fatal crashes, while light trucks stood at 14.75 and passenger cars were at 15.82.

Best Motorcycle safety tips

Statistics show motorcycles can be much more dangerous than cars. But that isn’t because of riders. It’s because of a lack of protection in serious accidents. That’s why riders must stay informed about life-saving and preventative safety tips.  

Also, the NHTSA says motorcyclists can keep themselves and others safe in a few ways. They should obtain a legal license, practice how to operate a motorcycle and wear the proper protection. And, like all motorists, riders should avoid driving under the influence.

Motorcycles, in fact, pose a higher risk of serious injuries. But they can be safer if riders protect themselves. Consider the safest motorcycle brands on the market, and stay updated on prevention and safety measures. 


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