Motorcycle Facts & Statistics

Motorcycles are involved in a high number of traffic collisions, because they are so hard to see on the road. A vehicle's side mirrors are important tools enabling a motorist to see motorcycles and reduce the number of these collisions. Motorcycles must obey the same driving laws as all other vehicles.

A study conducted by Harry Hurt at the University of Southern California, called "Motorcycle Collision Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures" found the following:

  • Approximately three-fourths of the motorcycle collisions studied involved a collision with another vehicle.
  • Approximately one-fourth of the motorcycle collisions studied involved a collision with the roadway or a fixed object in the environment.
  • Two percent of the collisions studied involved some sort of roadway defect (potholes, cracks, pavement ridges, etc.).
  • In two-thirds of the collisions that involved another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle was at fault by violating the motorcycles right-of-way.
  • Weather conditions were only a factor in about 2 percent of the motorcycle collisions.
  • 92% of the motorcycle collisions studied involved motorcycle riders that were self-taught or learned from family or friends.
  • Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.
  • In the motorcycle collisions studied, less than 10 percent of the riders had insurance to cover medical care or to replace property.
  • The use of a safety helmet, while riding a motorcycle, is proven to greatly reduce your risk of serious injury when involved in a crash.

The following are tips from the NHTSA for the motorcyclist:

  • Wear protective clothing: The most important factor in reducing injury is personal protection. Leather jackets, gloves, long pants, proper footwear, eye protection and helmets provide personal protection.
  • Ride where you can be seen: Make sure you can be seen by drivers around you. Never ride in another driver's blind spot.
  • Drive defensively: Drive your motorcycle defensively; always watch out for others around you.
  • Leave a buffer zone: Give yourself extra space in your lane for emergency braking situations or other avoidance maneuvers.
  • Single lanes: Never share a lane with a car. A driver may not expect you to be there and may not be aware of your presence. Most drivers are looking for vehicles, not motorcycles.
  • Use signals: Always clearly signal your intentions to other drivers. Signal before changing lanes, make your lane move gradually, and never weave between lanes.
  • Maintain your motorcycle: Make sure your motorcycle is in good condition. Have your motorcycle inspected to insure good mechanical condition.
  • Light-colored clothing: Wear fluorescent or light colors during the day and reflective materials in the evening and at night. Remember, See and Be Seen!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests the following safe driving tips that can be used to safely share the road with motorcyclists:

  • Respect the motorcyclist: Remember, motorcycles are vehicles with all the privileges of any vehicle on the road. Give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
  • Look out: Watch for motorcycles on the highway, at intersections and when they make left turns or lane changes.
  • Anticipate a motorcyclist's maneuver: Obstructions that you may ignore- such as debris or potholes- can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Anticipate evasive actions taken by motorcyclists.
  • Allow plenty of space: Don't follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room for a motorcyclist to take evasive actions.