According to recent statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 4,976 motorcycle fatalities in 2015. Although considerable, this number accounts for a small percentage of the more than 8.6 million motorcyclists that were on the country’s roadways that year.

A 2013 study conducted by NHTSA determined that, per mile driven, motorcyclists face six times the risk of a fatal accident than do those riding in cars. So what factors make motorcycle accidents so dangerous?

Of the contributing factors to motorcyclist fatalities, perhaps the most important is helmet use. NHTSA data suggests in 2015 alone, 40 percent of those motorcyclists who died in accidents were not wearing helmets at the time.

Age also appears to play a role in accidents. More than 54 percent of all motorcyclist fatalities in 2015 involved individuals 40 years old or older.
Research shows that reduced visual acuity, delayed responsiveness to stimuli, and increased use of larger motorbikes (which are more prone to rollovers) all play a large role in older bikers’ deaths. Additionally, data shows that older bikers are at two-and-a-half times the risk of younger bikers for sustaining serious injuries ranging from dislocations and fractures to brain damage.

Alcohol consumption is a big factor in making motorcycle accidents more prone to being serious or fatal. NHTSA data shows that more than 27 percent of those involved in fatal motorcycle crashes had blood alcohol concentration levels of 0.08 or higher, above the legal limit for drunk driving. That rate exceeded the rate of intoxication found among those involved in fatal car crashes by at least 6 percent the same year.

Speed also has been cited as being responsible for at least 33 percent of all motorcycle fatalities, a rate that is 14-percent higher than that of motor vehicles.

The final two factors thought to have some degree of impact on motorcyclist fatalities include lack of proper training or licensingand the use of sport-style bikes intended for racing.

As you can see from these statistics, riding a motorcycle can be considerably more dangerous than operating a car. If you are a motorcyclist who has been seriously injured or have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence, an experienced attorney can provide you with an assessment of your case and advice about your legal rights.

Additional source: Insurance Information Institute, Inc., “Motorcycle Crashes,” November 2016