How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?

Statistics show motorcycles are much more dangerous than other motor vehicles. In 2020, 5,579 motorcyclists were killed in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The answer to “How dangerous are motorcycles” is also stark when you look at per vehicle miles traveled that year. Motorcyclists have been found to be 28 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants, and 4 times as likely to be hurt.

Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous than Cars?

One of the leading contributors to the danger is inexperience. Riding a motorcycle requires different skills than driving a car, and there’s different knowledge you need as well. An automobile driver’s license doesn’t qualify you to be a rider. In fact, every state requires a motorcycle license endorsement, which supplements your regular license. California requires a motorcycle endorsement, otherwise known as a Class M1 license.

Most states require riders to pass a written and on-cycle skills test. There are also states that require completion of a state-sponsored education course. No matter what the requirements are, having the right instruction and experience can help you learn how to be a safer rider. Per the NHTSA’s assessment of fatal crashes in 2020, 36% of motorcyclists involved in such incidents did not have a valid license.

Specific Dangers of Riding Motorcycles

Motorcycles do not have a metal cage like a car does. Nor do they have seat belts or airbags. An airbag vest is one option for your safety gear; it can provide protection and some peace of mind.

Here are some of the leading dangers motorcyclists face whenever on the road:

  • Cars and trucks making left-hand turns, while the motorcycle is moving straight ahead or attempting to pass another vehicle.
  • Speeding is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists, being a factor in 34% of fatal crashes in 2020, versus 22% for passenger car drivers.2
  • Alcohol impairment was a factor in 27% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020, compared to 23% for drivers of passenger cars. Riders aged 45 to 49 represented the highest percentage of alcohol-related fatalities.
  • Not wearing a helmet significantly increases the risk of death and serious injury. According to the NHTSA, for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes who didn’t have helmets, 37 could have survived by wearing head protection.
  • Although rain, snow, ice, fog, and other weather conditions pose a risk, most motorcycle accidents occur in clear or cloudy conditions.

Another startling statistic about how dangerous motorcycles are is that they make up 3% of vehicles on U.S. roads, yet account for 18% of all driver and passenger fatalities.

Is There a Safe Way to Ride a Motorcycle?

Practice is one of the most effective ways to ride more safely. Aside from proper training and licensing, get to know how a particular motorcycle handles and responds before riding in traffic. Learn how to handle your bike in inclement weather, navigate slick roads, and get around debris or potholes.

Follow these safety tips as well:

  • Check the tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights, signal indicators, fluid levels, and for leaks before riding.
  • Secure and balance cargo and adjust tire pressure and the suspension to handle the extra weight.
  • Make sure a passenger mounts the motorcycle after the engine starts, and sits directly behind you, as far forward as possible, and holding on to your waist, hips, or belt. Both their feet should remain on the footrests.
  • Cover your arms and legs to provide protection and prevent dehydration.
  • Wear brightly covered clothing so other vehicle drivers can see you.
  • Know local traffic laws and obey all speed limits, traffic lights, signs, and lane markings.
  • Signal before changing lanes and always check behind you first.
  • Don’t ride under the influence of alcohol and drugs, including prescribed medications that can reduce alertness and reaction time.

Call Jacob If You’ve Been Hurt in a Motorcycle Crash

Motorcycle accidents often cause major injuries including brain, head, neck, and spinal cord injuries as well as broken bones, paralysis, loss of limbs, and road rash. We know how dangerous motorcycles can be in Los Angeles, Southern California, or anywhere. In addition, we’ve experienced how difficult insurance companies can be towards motorcycle riders, often shifting the blame to them. But we’ll fight for you and the compensation that you deserve. To speak with a motorcycle accident injury lawyer and receive your free consultation, call (888) 952-2952 today.

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southern california


714 W. Olympic Blvd.
Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90015


Our Main Location

Los Angeles

serving southern california


714 W. Olympic Blvd.
Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90015


(888) 508-5085