"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
Motorcyclists are more likely to get in an accident than drivers of a car. They are also more likely to get hurt. Most obviously, motorcycles are more dangerous than cars in their shape and size. They are much smaller than passenger vehicles and do not offer the added protection of being shielded by metal.
Motorcyclists face other major risks that car drivers do not. This includes limited visibility to car drivers, hazards such as potholes and uneven heights between lanes, and less stability. Compared to car drivers, motorcyclists also need a higher skill of training in order to operate their vehicles.
According to the US Highway Safety Authority, not only are there many more motorcycle accidents, but these accidents are more likely to result in deaths. In 2011, 4,630 motorcyclists died in vehicular accidents and approximately 81,000 were injured.
There were just under 8.5 million registered motorcycles in the United States during the year 2011 and those motorcycles were ridden for a total of approximately 18.5 billion miles in that year. In the same year, there were close to 134.5 million registered passenger cars that accounted for nearly 1.5 trillion miles of travel.
There were 25.03 fatalities per each 100 million miles of travel on a motorcycle while there were only .80 fatalities per each 100 million miles of passenger car travel. This means people were much more likely to get killed riding a motorcycle than when riding in a car. The more miles driven on a motorcycle, the higher the odds are that the rider will be involved in an accident.
Other factors increase the number of motorcycle accidents. In years in which the winter is warmer, there were more fatalities. This occurred in 2012, a year that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Climate Data Center recorded as one of the warmest first quarters on record. The increase in fatalities was apparent in the number and pattern of accidents during January through March.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered some other statistics on the likelihood of getting into a motorcycle accident. According to the CDC, more than half the people killed in 2010 motorcycle crashes were 40 or older. In the same year, while only 10% of riders killed in motorcycle crashes were women, almost all passengers (89%) killed in motorcycle crashes were women. Forty-one percent of motorcycle operators and 50% of motorcycle passengers who died were not wearing a helmet. The majority of people who died in crashes rode sport motorcycles with mid-size engines designed to maximize speed and agility.
The Insurance Journal reported that the most dangerous time for motorcyclists is their first year. This peaks in the first month with the first 30 days being approximately four times more risky than a rider’s entire second year. The Journal also said that fast-track motorcycle licensing courses that condense the time it takes to get on the road may actually raise crash risks.
Motorcyclists are more at risk for fatal or serious accidents on the road than are the drivers of cars or other passenger vehicles. Motorcycle riders can increase safety by being aware of the common causes of accidents and taking steps to reduce the risks or to avoid them.