How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (2023)

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (1)

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes

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It’s no secret that motorcyclists are the most at-risk individuals on the road. Compared to other drivers in cars, trucks, and other vehicles, motorcyclists are far less protected, are more difficult to see, and can have different road laws that can make them unpredictable.

Unfortunately, the result is countless motorcycle accidents that occur each year.

So how do most motorcycle crashes happen? Despite many online opinions, there is not a single factor that causes motorcycle crashes. The 5 top causes are weather and road conditions, speed of the driver, alcohol or drug impairment, reckless motorcycle driving behavior and failure to be seen by other drivers on the road.

Although motorcyclists typically only make up 3% of registered vehicles in the United States, they contribute to 14% of vehicle-related deaths according to the NSC!

Let’s discuss these top five causes of motorcycle accidents on the road, their resulting injuries, and how to prevent them.

Driving Under The Influence

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (2)

Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or unfortunately encountering an impaired driver on the road remains one of the primary causes of all motorcycle accidents, with at least 127 million impaired drivers on the road in 2020 according to the CDC.

Whether the motorcyclist is intoxicated or another driver is driving under the influence proves to be one of the deadliest causes of all forms of motorcycle accidents.

As described by the NHTSA, in 2018, 39% of fatal single-vehicle motorcycle accidents saw the motorcyclist under the influence, and that doesn’t even involve any other drivers.

When you include other drivers, both inebriated and not, this number increases substantially, making driving under the influence one of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes.

(Video) 5 Common Causes Of Motorcycle Crashes & How To Prevent Them

Weather Conditions

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (3)

When visibility is low, the roads are slick and there is often debris on the streets due to inclement weather. The likelihood of a motorcycle crash obviously increases. Unfortunately, in harsh weather conditions such as this, motorcyclists once again find themselves at the top of the list of the motorists most in danger on the road.

This is primarily because without having the protection that the interior of a vehicle provides, motorcyclists are subjected to the elements. With nothing but a helmet and clothing to protect them from wind, rain, and other elements, they are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Not only does this decrease a rider’s visibility, but it can also make it difficult for them to control their motorcycle effectively because they may be wet, cold, uncomfortable, or several other reasons. In addition, most motorcycles only have two tires, which makes it much more difficult to control during already threatening weather conditions.

(Video) Top 5 Reasons Why We Have Accidents | How to Prevent them?

Excessive Speed

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (4)

As is the case with all vehicles, speeding is a major cause of accidents across the world. However, speeding has proven to be particularly dangerous for motorcyclists.

Compared to speeding-related accidents and fatalities from cars, trucks, and other automobiles, more motorcycle deaths were caused by speeding than by any others.

This is primarily the case because motorcycles are far less stable on two wheels, which can prove to be disastrous at high speeds.

In addition, with limited protection, motorcyclists that crash going above the speed limit are likely to sustain serious injuries, or worse. It also doesn’t help that most motorcycles have an impressive acceleration rate when compared to other vehicles, making sudden stops safely nearly impossible.

Lane Splitting

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (5)

Although not legal in all states, the American Motorcyclist Association describes lane splitting as “a motorcycle’s narrow width which can allow it to pass between lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars on roadways where the lanes are wide enough to offer an adequate gap.

This option can provide an escape route for motorcyclists who would otherwise be trapped or struck from behind.” Since being in stop-and-go or congested traffic has proven to be increasingly dangerous for motorcyclists, lane splitting is a solution that has proven to be beneficial to motorcyclists, however, it does not come without hazards.

(Video) 7 Reasons Why Motorcycle Crashes Happen & How To Prevent Them

Driving a motorcycle in between lines of stopped or slow-moving cars puts them at the mercy of other drivers.

If a motorcyclist is lane-splitting and a car suddenly attempts to merge in front of them and doesn’t see the motorcyclist, this can result in a type of accident that happens all too often.

Hopefully, the motorcyclist is driving slowly enough to either stop or maneuver around the merging vehicle, although this is not always the case.

Failure to be seen by other drivers

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (6)

Motorcycles are convenient to drive because they are small, can weave through traffic, and are quick. Yet, this is also what makes them so dangerous. Ironically, all these benefits of a motorcycle also make them less visible to other drivers and is what causes many motorcycle accidents.

Almost all vehicles have blind spots of some kind whether they be small cars or large trucks. At times, that blind spot can completely block a motorcyclist from view, leading a driver to believe that no one is there, causing an accident. In addition to blind spots, most vehicle drivers also don’t always have the safety of motorcyclists at the forefront of their minds.

This is because motorcyclists are the minority on the road. Vehicle drivers are constantly encountering other vehicles and watching for them when changing lanes, merging onto highways, etc.

They encounter motorcycles much less frequently and often do not take the extra time to check their blind spots for them, which often results in an untimely motorcycle accident.

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (7)

Unfortunately, not all motorcycle accidents are preventable, and people do get hurt in a variety of ways.

Motorcycle crashes and their resulting injuries are unique compared to other vehicle accidents.

Motorcycle accident attorneys Ciccarelli Law Offices stated that the most common injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents are:

  • TBI (traumatic brain injury): Even if the rider is wearing a helmet, brain injuries are one of the most common injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. Because the rider does not have the safety of a seatbelt, they can easily fly over their handlebars and into other vehicles obstacles or the road, resulting in traumatic brain injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Often associated with brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are another common motorcycle accident injury. With nothing but their own body to brace the impact, it is not unusual for the victim of a crash to suffer a head and spinal cord injury at the same time.
  • Road rash: Because motorcyclists only have their clothing and helmet to protect them from the pavement, road rash is a very common injury in motorcycle accidents. It can range from mild to severe and occurs when a motorcyclist’s body skids across the pavement at high speeds.

How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes (8)

Thankfully, most motorcycle accidents are preventable, as long as motorcyclists and drivers take extra precautions on the roads.

Some of the things motorcyclists can do to prevent an accident are:

  • Wear bright clothing to make yourself seen
  • Avoid riding your motorcycle in inclement weather
  • Never speed
  • Never drink and drive
  • Don’t share lanes with cars
  • Regularly check your motorcycle for maintenance issues, especially tires

If you are an automobile driver you can:

  • Double-check mirrors before merging
  • Avoid merging in slow traffic
  • Avoid opening your doors when sitting in slow or stopped traffic
  • Follow the rules of the road
  • Always assume a motorcyclist is near


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(Video) Motorcycle crashes: Four top causes


How Do Most Motorcycle Crashes Happen? The Top 5 Causes? ›

Sudden stops, vehicle overshadowing, lane changing, and the unexpected opening of car doors can all pose a serious threat to bikers, and are the cause of a multitude of motorcycle crashes every year.

What kills most motorcycle riders? ›

Head-On Collisions

In the majority of these cases, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front. And, it's no surprise that when head-on collisions occur, they're often fatal for the motorcyclist.

Where do 70% of motorcycle accidents occur? ›

Be especially alert at intersections because approximately 70 percent of motorcycle-vehicle collisions occur there! Watch for vehicles that may unexpectedly turn in front of you or pull out from a side street or driveway.

What is the most common cause of motorcycle crashes at intersections? ›

Failure to Yield

About 35 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents occur at intersections.

What are the 4 types of motorcycle crashes? ›

Lowside, highside, topside, and collision are the four main categories of motorcycle crash types.

What motorcycle crashes the most? ›

Cruisers: As much as 50% of the motorcycles on the road today are classified as motorcycle cruisers. This also means that they account for a large percentage of the accidents. Additionally, cruisers may encourage riders to wear less protective gear in order to maintain their 'cool image.

Why are motorcycle deaths so high? ›

Motorcycles are easier to maneuver and are generally more agile. But motorcyclists are considerably more exposed to danger than other motor vehicle operators. Accidents involving a motorcyclist can often cause serious trauma or death.

Where is a motorcycle most likely to crash? ›

Intersections. One of the most common locations for motorcycle accidents is at an intersection. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all motorcycle accidents occur at traffic intersections.

Where are most motorcycle deaths? ›

How may we help you? Although motorcycle accidents that result in injuries are a common phenomenon, various studies have provided data showing where most motorcycle accidents do happen. Overall, most motorcycle accidents occur in urban areas, on non-interstate roads, and at locations other than intersections.

Do 80% of motorcycle accidents result in death? ›

The effects of a crash involving a motorcycle can often be devastating. While 20 percent of passenger vehicle crashes result in injury or death, an astounding 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death.

Where do 50% of all accidents occur? ›

California Intersection Accident Statistics

According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, about 50% of all motor vehicle accidents involving injuries and fatalities occur at or near intersections.

How rare are motorcycle accidents? ›

Fast Facts of Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents are 28 times more likely to result in fatalities based on vehicle miles traveled. Riders are also four times more likely to get injured. Although motorcycles only make up 3% of the registered vehicles in the U.S., they contribute 14% of all traffic fatalities.

What is the cause of most single motorcycle crashes rider? ›

The main cause for single-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle is the biker's failure to reduce their speed when navigating a curve. And of all crashes in which motorcycle riders are significantly injured or killed, 50% are crashes that involve only the motorcycle and no other vehicle.

Which type of collision is a major cause of motorcycle fatalities? ›

Improper Turning

According to SafeTREC, improper turns make up 17.4% of motorcycle accident fatalities for many of the same reasons right-of-way accidents increase fatality rates. Motor vehicles are not aware of motorcycles in the same way they recognize other passenger vehicles and large trucks.

What are the four primary causes of crashes? ›

The Six Most Common Causes of Collisions
  • Distracted Driving. Distracted driving is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. ...
  • Speeding. ...
  • Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs. ...
  • Aggressive Driving. ...
  • Falling Asleep Behind the Wheel. ...
  • Adverse Weather Conditions.

Are motorcycle crashes painful? ›

Suffering an injury in a motorcycle accident is not only painful, but it can impact your mobility for the rest of your life. Some motorcycle riders must cope with lifelong consequences in both their personal and professional lives as a result of injuries to their feet.

What is the most common type of crash? ›

How may we help you? Rear-end collisions and angle collisions are the most common type of accidents.

How common are motorcycle deaths? ›

There were 67.8 motorcycle crash fatalities for every 100,000 registered vehicles in 2020 as compared to 10.79 for passenger cars and 6.90 for light trucks. In addition to not having a protective steel cage surrounding motorcyclists, motorcycles also don't have other safety features, including airbags and seat belts.

What age has the most motorcycle deaths? ›

The age group of 25-34 has the highest number of fatalities in motorcycle accidents. Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco have the highest number of motorcycle accidents in the state. From 2018 to 2019, motorcycle accident injuries increased from an estimated 82,000 victims to 84,000 victims in the U.S.

What are 40 of motorcycle crashes caused by? ›

It is believed that distracted driving plays a role in approximately 40% of motorcycle accidents. If you are out on the road and need to send a text, pull over to the side of the road so that you can avoid a fatal crash.

Why are motorcycles more at risk? ›

While all motorists face risks on the road, motorcyclists often face bigger risks because they are on two wheels instead of four and because there is nothing protecting them—such as a steel cage or airbags—in the event of a crash.

What is the average life expectancy of a motorcycle rider? ›

The Average Age for Motorcycle Fatalities Is Over 40

The most common age to die in a motorcycle accident is 42.

What is the average age of motorcycle deaths? ›

Over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015, fatalities among the 40-and-older age group increased by 17 percent (from 2,291 to 2,671). In 2006, the average age of motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes was 39, whereas in 2015 the average age was 42.

Where is it safest to ride a motorcycle? ›

Statistically, the highway is the safest place to ride a motorcycle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, 48% of all fatal motorcycle accidents occurred on major roads.

What is the safest state to ride a motorcycle? ›

In the United States, the safest states to ride a motorcycle are Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. Motorcycle riders should be aware of the weather conditions in which they choose to ride.

What age group is most likely to crash a motorcycle? ›

According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, while younger motorcyclists aged 25 to 29 are involved in the most accidents, older motorcyclists aged 50 and older account for the highest percentage of motorcycle fatalities.

What time of day do most motorcycle accidents happen? ›

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides the following statistics on motorcycle accidents: 52 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents occur on weekend nights, with the highest proportion occurring between 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

What state has the most motorcycle riders? ›

Not only is California one of the U.S. states with the highest number of motorcycles, but it is also the most populous state in the U.S. overall, representing close to 12 percent of the country's total population.

Are motorcycles death traps? ›

Motorcycles are sometimes referred to, in jest, as “death traps.” In accidents, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer injuries than other motorists. Motorcyclists do not have any protective enclosures like drivers and passengers in the bodies of automobiles.

What is the chance of surviving a motorcycle accident? ›

However, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that the odds of surviving a motorcycle accident nationwide range from 90-95 percent.

What is the main cause of the crash over 70% of the time when a motorcyclist is involved in an accident? ›

Motorcycle Accident Stats

​In nearly 70 percent of motorcycle accidents that include another vehicle, the driver of the larger vehicle violated the motorcyclist's right of way, with an accident resulting.

What are 90% of accidents caused by? ›

Several other studies have produced similar results, and every study that we know of shows that the percentage of car accidents that are caused by human error is at least 90%.

What type of crash is most fatal? ›

By far the deadliest accident type is the head-on collision. Head-on collisions consider both vehicle's speed at the time of the crash, which means even an accident at lower speeds can be catastrophic.

At what speed do most accidents occur? ›

While there are many factors that contribute to car accidents, speed is often cited as a major culprit. But at what speed do most car accidents happen? According to research, most car accidents occur at speeds below 40 mph.

Do motorcycles stop faster than cars? ›

A car could take longer to stop at specific speeds but are quicker at other times. On average, motorcycles take a little longer to stop than cars. Motorcycles need approximately 18 percent more space than cars to brake. A car only requires a single pedal, and an electrical system assists with the maneuver.

What percentage of motorcycle riders wear helmets? ›

Universal helmet laws — state laws that require helmet use for all riders (operators and passengers) — are extremely effective. In 2021, 96 percent of motorcyclists observed in states with universal helmet laws were wearing helmets. In states without such laws, helmet use was 57 percent (NHTSA, 2022).

Are most motorcycle accidents the bikers fault? ›

Many drivers assume that motorcycle riders are reckless or careless on the road. But the facts say something different. Truthfully, most motorcycle accidents happen because of another driver's actions. A car or truck driver is more likely to be at fault for a motorcycle-related crash.

What is the no zone motorcycle? ›

The No-Zone represents danger areas around trunks where crashes are more likely to occur. Passing. When motorcycles cut in too soon after passing, then abruptly slow down, truck drivers are forced to compensate with little time or room to spare.

What should motorcyclists never assume? ›

You can never assume other drivers, riders and even pedestrians have seen you. Motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in a crash.

What is one of the most common causes of fatal collisions? ›

As the most common cause of fatal collisions, speeding has garnered attention from federal and state agencies and organizations that study different aspects of speeding. In recent years, the NHTSA has identified speeding patterns among drivers.

What are the 3 types of collisions that occur in a crash? ›

The 3 collisions that happen in every car crash:
  • Vehicle collision: The two or more vehicles collide while collision.
  • Human collision: The humans collide with the inner part of the vehicle in a car crash.
  • Internal collision: The internal things of the car collide with each other in a car crash.

Where are the most motorcycle accidents? ›

How may we help you? Although motorcycle accidents that result in injuries are a common phenomenon, various studies have provided data showing where most motorcycle accidents do happen. Overall, most motorcycle accidents occur in urban areas, on non-interstate roads, and at locations other than intersections.

What is the single biggest cause of crashes on the road? ›

Traveling above the posted speed limit or too fast for roadway conditions is a primary cause of car accidents and traffic fatalities in California. In 2020, speeding contributed to 1,228 car accident deaths.

What are majority of crashes caused by? ›

In fact, aggressive driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents. Reckless driving, road rage, and tailgating are some of the most common aggressive driving behaviors.

At what speed do most motorcycle deaths occur? ›

The Speed at Which Most Motorcycles Crash

The average speed of impact for motorcycle accidents is 21.5 mph. Shockingly, only one out of every 1,000 motorcycle accidents occur at speeds of around 85 mph.

What is the life expectancy of a motorcycle rider? ›

The Average Age for Motorcycle Fatalities Is Over 40

The most common age to die in a motorcycle accident is 42. The reason for this could be the decreased vision, hearing, and body strength that come with older age.


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