Facts + Statistics: Motorcycle crashes

Motorcycles are by their nature far less crashworthy than closed vehicles. They are also less visible to other drivers and pedestrians and less stable than four-wheel vehicles. Operating a motorcycle requires a different combination of physical and mental skills than those used in driving four-wheel vehicles. Motorcyclists and their passengers are more vulnerable to the hazards of weather and road conditions than drivers in closed vehicles.

Early estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) show that motorcyclist fatalities in the United States are expected to have decreased by 5.6 percent in 2017 compared with 2016, a reduction of approximately 296 fatalities. The GHSA preliminary estimates are based on data from state traffic record systems.

In 2016, 5,286 people died in motorcycle crashes, up 5.1 percent from 5,029 in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Motorcycle fatalities have increased for the second year in a row and are at the highest level since 2008, when 5,312 people died in motorcycle crashes. In 2016, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled.

Note: statistics on fatal motorcycle crashes are also available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

 
Motorcycle Helmet Use, 2000-2018 (1)

 

Year Percent Year Percent
2000 71% 2014 64%
2005 48 2015 61
2010 54 2016 65
2012 60 2017 65
2013 60 2018 71

(1) Based on surveys of motorcyclists using helmets meeting Department of Transportation standards. Surveys conducted in October for 1996-2000 and in June thereafter.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Occupant Protection Use Survey, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Center for Statistics and Analysis.

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Motorcyclist Fatalities And Fatality Rates, 2007-2016

Year Fatalities Registered
motorcycles
Fatality rate per
100,000 registered
motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled
(millions)
Fatality rate per
100 million vehicle
miles traveled
2007 5,174 7,138,476 72.48 21,396 24.18
2008 5,312 7,752,926 68.52 20,811 25.52
2009 4,469 7,929,724 56.36 20,822 21.46
2010 4,518 8,009,503 56.41 18,513 24.40
2011 4,630 8,437,502 54.87 18,542 24.97
2012 4,986 8,454,939 58.97 21,385 23.32
2013 4,692 8,404,687 55.83 20,366 23.04
2014 4,594 8,417,718 54.58 19,970 23.00
2015 5,029 8,600,936 58.47 19,606 25.65
2016 5,286 8,679,380 60.90 20,445 25.85

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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Motorcyclist Injuries And Injury Rates, 2007-2016

Year Injuries Registered
motorcycles
Injury rate per
100,000 registered
motorcycles
Vehicle miles
traveled (millions)
Injury rate per
100 million vehicle
miles traveled
2007 103,000 7,138,476 1,443 21,396 481
2008 96,000 7,752,926 1,238 20,811 461
2009 90,000 7,929,724 1,130 20,822 430
2010 82,000 8,009,503 1,024 18,513 443
2011 81,000 8,437,502 965 18,542 439
2012 93,000 8,454,939 1,099 21,385 434
2013 88,000 8,404,687 1,052 20,366 434
2014 92,000 8,417,718 1,088 19,970 459
2015 88,000 8,600,936 1,028 19,606 451
2016 NA 8,679,380 NA 20,445 NA

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

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Occupant Fatality Rates By Vehicle Type, 2007 And 2016

 

Fatality rate Motorcycles Light trucks Passenger cars
2007      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 72.48 12.36 12.05
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 24.18 1.10 1.07
2016      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 60.90 7.80 9.94
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 25.85 0.73 0.93
Percent change, 2007-2016      
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles -16.0% -36.9% -17.5%
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 6.9 -33.6 -13.1

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Motorcyclists Killed, by Time of Day and Day of Week, 2016

 

  Day of Week  
  Weekday Weekend Total
  Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Motorcyclists killed            
Midnight to 3 am 174 6.3% 313 12.5% 487 9.2%
3 am to 6 am 81 2.9 100 4.0 181 3.4
6 am to 9 am 264 9.5 69 2.8 333 6.3
9 am to Noon 252 9.1 200 8.0 452 8.6
Noon to 3 pm 456 16.4 380 15.2 836 15.8
3 pm to 6 pm 665 23.9 483 19.3 1,148 21.7
6 pm to 9 pm 515 18.5 562 22.5 1,077 20.4
9 pm to Midnight 362 13.0 375 15.0 737 13.9
Unknown 9 0.3 15 0.6 35 0.7
Total 2,778 100.0% 2,497 100.0% 5,286 (1) 100.0%

(1) Includes 11 motorcyclists killed on unknown day of week.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration.

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Vehicles Involved In Fatal Crashes By Vehicle Type, 2007 And 2016

 

  Fatal crashes
  2007 2016
Passenger cars    
Involved in crashes 22,856 20,839
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 1.47 1.45
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 16.57 15.45
Light trucks (1)    
Involved in crashes 21,810 20,069
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 1.92 1.42
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 21.63 15.2
Motorcycles    
Involved in crashes 5,306 5,421
Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 24.8 26.52
Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles 74.33 62.46

(1) Trucks with 10,000 pounds or less gross vehicle weight. Includes pickups, vans, truck-based station wagons and utility vehicles.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Vehicle miles traveled - USDOT, Federal Highway Administration, revised by NHTSA; Registered passenger cars and light trucks - R.L. Polk & Co; Registered motorcycles - USDOT, Federal Highway Administration.

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Persons Killed In Total And Alcohol-Impaired Crashes By Person Type, 2017

 

    Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (1)
Person type Total killed Number Percent of
total killed
Vehicle occupants      
Driver 18,726 6,158 33%
Passenger 6,174 1,830 30
Unknown occupant 73 2 2
Total 24,973 7,989 32%
Motorcyclists 5,172 1,704 33%
Nonoccupants      
Pedestrian 5,977 1,017 17
Pedalcyclist 783 126 16
Other/unknown 228 39 17
Total 6,988 1,181 17%
Total 37,133 10,874 29%

(1) Alcohol-impaired driving crashes are crashes that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter or greater, the legal definition of alcohol-impaired driving.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Drivers In Fatal Crashes By Blood Alcohol Concentration (Bac) And Vehicle Type, 2007-2016 (1)

 

  Passenger car Light truck Large truck Motorcycles
    Percent    Percent    Percent    Percent 
Year Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+
2007 22,765 27% 23% 21,719 27% 23% 4,601 2% 1% 5,306 35% 27%
2008 20,379 27 23 19,095 26 23 4,040 3 2 5,405 36 29
2009 18,344 27 23 17,878 27 23 3,182 3 2 4,601 36 29
2010 17,710 27 24 17,385 25 22 3,456 2 1 4,647 36 28
2011 17,401 27 24 16,706 25 21 3,594 3 1 4,761 37 29
2012 18,171 26 23 17,230 25 21 3,774 3 2 5,108 35 28
2013 17,850 27 23 16,810 25 21 3,872 4 2 4,795 35 27
2014 17,802 26 22 17,040 25 22 3,701 3 2 4,703 37 29
2015 19,688 25 21 18,763 24 21 4,019 2 1 5,126 34 26
2016 20,730 24 21 19,951 23 20 4,152 3 2 5,414 32 25

(1) NHTSA estimates alcohol involvement when alcohol test results are unknown.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration.

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