Motorcyclists face extreme risks on the road since riders are largely unprotected from other cars, debris, and natural elements. Motorcycles also have less stability than cars making them more likely to lose control if there’s something wrong with the road. Unfortunately, this means that motorcycle riders are more likely to be killed in an accident than those in other passenger vehicles.

A motorcycle lies in an intersection after an accident.

Perhaps you’d like to know what percentage of motorcycle accidents are fatal. Motorcycle fatalities are disproportionately represented in motor vehicle collisions. Below, TonaLaw describes the statistics related to motorcycle fatalities. We also explain some common causes of motorcycle accidents to help you when you’re on the road.

What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Are Fatal?

How many people die on motorcycles? Motorcycle fatalities are, unfortunately, far too common and trending upwards as recently as 2020. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5579 motorcyclists died in a crash in 2020. This number was an 11% increase from 2019.

Additionally, motorcyclist fatalities are disproportionate as compared with fatalities for other motorists in the U.S. Motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in an accident in 2020 than passenger vehicles per vehicle miles traveled.

What percentage of motorcycle accidents that are fatal also varies based on the location. For example, according to the NHTSA, 61% of all motorcycle fatalities occur in urban areas, such as cities and congested suburbs. However, only 39% occur in rural areas. What this demonstrates is that it is less safe to ride a motorcycle in more populated areas such as cities and suburbs. 

What Is the Biggest Cause of Motorcycle Fatalities?

Given how many people die on motorcycles, you may wonder about the most common cause of motorcycle fatalities. Awareness of the causes of motorcycle fatalities may help you and others on the road prevent them. Sometimes a fatality doesn’t have only one cause and several things can affect whether a motorcyclist survives a crash.

The following is a list of some common causes of motorcycle fatalities. However, this list is not exhaustive and many other things influence what percentage of motorcycle accidents are fatal than what we’ve listed below.

Not Wearing a Helmet

If you’re wondering what percentage of motorcycle accidents are fatal, you may also want to know how to protect yourself as a motorcyclist. One of the best ways to protect yourself as a motorcycle rider is to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved motorcycle helmet. Wearing a helmet will save your life. According to the NHTSA, helmets reduce motorcycle fatalities anywhere from 22% to 42%. In fact, a study showed that helmets reduce the chance of death by 42% and the chance of a head injury by 69%. This means that you are more likely to survive a collision if you are wearing a DOT-approved helmet.

In New York, motorcyclists are required by law to wear a DOT-approved helmet. While some may find this legal requirement is annoying, studies have demonstrated that state-wide universal helmet laws significantly reduce the state’s motorcycle fatalities. The NHTSA reported that in 2020, 57% of motorcyclists were killed in states without universal helmet laws, as opposed to 11% in states with helmet laws. While helmet use cannot prevent an accident due to driver negligence or poor driving conditions, it does increase the likelihood that a motorcyclist will survive an accident.

Unlicensed Rider

One of the top issues affecting how many people die on motorcycles is whether a rider is unlicensed. The NHTSA reported that 36% of motorcyclists involved in fatalities did not have valid motorcycle licenses. New York requires that all motorcyclists get a class M or class MJ license to drive a motorcycle. New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles also recommends getting at least 30 hours of practice before scheduling your road test for the license. Although formal motorcycle classes are not required for the test, they may place you in a better position to pass your road test and have more confidence and safety on the road. 

Distracted Driving

With the widespread use of smartphones and social media, accidents involving distracted drivers have increased. People text, post, make phone calls, and even read articles on their smartphones while driving. This can increase the risk of a driver hitting an unsuspecting motorcyclist. Accidents caused by distracted drivers claimed 3,142 lives in 2020. Motorcyclists are at higher risk of injury from a distracted driver because they have very little to protect themselves in a collision.

Driving or Riding Under the Influence

Driving or riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol significantly impacts what percentage of motorcycle accidents are fatal. According to the NHTSA, 32 people die daily in the US due to drunk driving. Drug or alcohol-impaired motorcyclists face an even greater risk of serious injury or death. According to the NHTSA, 41% of motorcyclists who died in single-vehicle crashes were under the influence of alcohol. Motorcyclists must be alert and aware on the road. Drugs and alcohol significantly limit a rider’s abilities to adapt to the road conditions or react to dangers on the road.

Road Hazards

Road hazards such as a crack in the pavement, pebbles on the road, or uneven surfaces can pose a greater danger to a motorcyclist than a car driver. Because motorcycles are smaller and only have two wheels any road hazards affect the stability of a motorcycle more than a four wheeled car or truck would be affect. Additionally, due to a motorcyclist’s lack of protection on the road, even small amounts of flying debris can cause an injury to the rider.

Cars Making Left-Hand Turns

Even though left-turn right-of-way laws require drivers to yield to other traffic, impatient or reckless drivers don’t always wait. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all fatal crashes between a motorcycle and a car involved a car that was turning left. When a vehicle turns left and hits an oncoming car or motorcycle, they are typically considered to be at fault for the accident.

Speeding or Reckless Driving

Speeding and reckless driving claim an extremely high number of lives. According to the NHTSA, speeding killed 11,258 people in 2020. This is because the collision’s severity increases with the vehicle’s speed.

Additionally, other types of reckless or aggressive driving increase the risks the motorcyclists and others face on the road. Frequent lane switching or swerving in and out of traffic can easily cause an accident. When a driver switches lanes without looking in their blind spot, they can easily hit a motorcyclist because a motorcyclist’s profile is much smaller andeasier to miss than a four wheeled vehicle. 

Contact TonaLaw If You’ve Been in a New York Motorcycle Accident

The negligence of others on the road is a top cause of how many people die on motorcycles. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident in New York, you need a team of competent and aggressive litigators who can help you navigate the complexities of a negligence case. TonaLaw is here to help. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing motorcycle accident victims in their compensation claims. Contact us today.

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