Top Motorcycle Safety Statistics – And How to Avoid Becoming One

Motorcycles, by their nature, are more vulnerable than most vehicles on the road. Any rider knows that deciding to swing a leg over their motorcycle seat is far more dangerous than getting behind the wheel of their car. In fact, although motorcyclists make up only a small segment of registered vehicles, they account for almost 18% of all traffic fatalities.  

One of the best ways to increase personal safety while motorcycling is through education. That’s why we’ve put together some of the TOP motorcycle collision and safety statistics from around the world — so that hopefully as a rider YOU can learn, grow, and better protect yourself. 

Top Collision Cause: Automobiles

According to the worldwide statistics, roughly 75% of all motorcycle accidents are caused by or involve another vehicle, most often an automobile. Out of these collisions, the vast majority are caused by a car hitting a front portion of the motorcycle. 

Paramedics transporting person on stretcher

Other high-risk traffic scenarios for motorcyclists include:

  • Cars failure to yield the right of way to a rider through an intersection 
  • Cars entering the road from a parking area, gas station, or similar outlet 
  • Cars changing into a lane already occupied by a motorcyclist 
  • Cars failing to stop in traffic and hitting the motorcyclist from behind
  • Cars oncoming from the opposite direction in the wrong lane (passing)

The Solution: Any motorcyclist on the road today would benefit from an Advanced Rider Assistance System (ARAS) like Ride Vision to alert them to, and help them avoid, collision threats while riding. According to the Federation of Motorcyclist’s Association (FEMA) — these systems must be simple and non-distracting to be effective. 

That means that complicated displays, speed-limiting or adjusting systems, and even helmet-mounted visual cues actually cause more distractions and danger to a rider than having no Rider Assistance system at all! 

However — it is essential that motorcyclists have as much time as possible to respond to roadway hazards. Considering that at highway speeds (70mp/113kph), a rider is covering 103 feet (31.3 meters) per second, even milliseconds back in response time could mean the difference between life or death.

It’s for this reason that Ride Vision was designed to solve  the most common collision types in a simple, but effective way. Two HD cameras mounted at the front and rear of the motorcycle provide a 360° continuous loop of camera coverage. Using a patented algorithm, Ride Vision’s unique processing unit detects critical threats to the rider, and notifies them in real-time using un-intrusive LED alerts that are mounted to the motorcycle’s mirror. The Ride Vision system can be tailored to fit a rider’s preferences (using the App), and even saves up to 2 hours of film at a time (which the rider can also access whenever needed for insurance or personal reasons).

Collision Cause: Rider Error

Unfortunately, rider error makes up a significant portion of motorcyclist collisions. Out of these incidents, two main reasons emerge; a lack of rider skill, and irresponsible rider behavior. 

Sadly, alcohol consumption is a large contributor to single-vehicle crashes for motorcyclists in the United States, with excessive speed a significant cause as well. However, with proper training, it’s possible that the incidence rate of excessive speed crashes could be greatly reduced. 

A lack of proper riding gear, while not a major cause of motorcycle crashes, does contribute to rider injury and fatality numbers. It is estimated that in the United States alone hundreds of lives could be saved every year if riders simply wore a helmet.  

The Solution: Drinking alcohol while riding is never a good idea. Alcohol slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and even impairs the portion of the brain that can process how intoxicated you are (which is why drunk drivers often believe they’re “fine to drive”). A good rule of thumb is if you’re riding, don’t drink! 

Advanced and emergency training is a crucial part of being able to handle a motorcycle safely. Any rider on the road should be able to avoid target fixation and complete basic emergency maneuvers at speed, these maneuvers include: emergency swerves, emergency stops, and in-corner emergency maneuvers (either straighten and stop, or a controlled increase of lean angle). Check out: It’s a Fine Line – Motorcycle Safety Videos (Maneuvers).

Proper riding gear can be a lifesaver while on the road. At a minimum, any motorcyclists should wear proper head, eye, hand, and foot protection. While choosing what gear to wear, a good piece of data to keep in mind is — if you were to hit the ground unprotected while riding, you would lose 1mm of skin for every 1mph over 30mph (48km/h) you are going. It’s important to keep in mind too that cloth and denim material do not provide protection. Leather, kevlar, and textile riding gear are the best choice when on the road. Check out: Complete Gear Guide.

Secondary Collision Causes: Roadway Features 

Gravel, obstacles, tar, construction, and other roadway debris are just some of the hazards that motorcyclists face while on the road. Any rider should be well educated on common roadway hazards and hazardous conditions. 

The Solution: According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), riders should know how to “Search, Evaluate, and Execute (S.E.E)” at all times. This means having the ability to identify, analyze, and skillfully handle any roadway situation that they come across. For example, a rider should have the ability to safely navigate hazards like gravel, wet leaves, rainwater, potholes, and even the ability to cross over roadway obstacles. Check out: MSF Tools for Improving Hazard Perception

Riders should also be able to quickly identify roadway signs, and be aware of key features in road conditions. For example, an often overlooked fact is that roadways are more slippery and highly dangerous to riders within the first 30 minutes of rainfall — this is due to the fact that roadway grime and debris are rising to the surface before being washed away. 

While knowledge of this type of information does not guarantee rider safety, adequate training, and education in this area can prove to be crucial in keeping a motorcycle upright and it’s passenger safe. 

Secondary Collision Causes: Technical Issues

While some mechanical and electrical issues are out of a rider’s control, any motorcyclist should know that they alone are responsible for the bike’s condition, and overall performance. While the actual incidence of technical issues causing a motorcycle accident is low (estimated to be less than 5%) — it’s important for a rider to be able to keep their bike in top condition and performing safely

The Solution: Proper motorcycle maintenance is as easy as remembering the acronym T-CLOCS! This term refers to a pre-ride checklist that every motorcyclist should run through before riding. The list consists of:

  • T – Tires and Wheels 
  • C – Controls 
  • L – Lights and Electronics 
  • O – Oil and Other Fluids
  • C – Chassis
  • S – Stands 

While running through the full checklist (available below) may not be reasonable to do before every ride, motorcyclists should be familiar with the crucial elements involved in safety on their motorcycle. A logbook can also help motorcyclists keep track of regular maintenance intervals. Check out: MSF T-CLOCS Full List PDF

Key Takeaways

The leading causes of motorcycle accidents are automobile collisions, and single-vehicle crashes (rider error). Safer motorcycling can be achieved through a combination of training, Advanced Rider Assistance Systems like Ride Vision, education, and responsible rider choices.

Many ARAS products can be overly complicated, and/or involve mechanisms that take over control of the motorcycle — which studies have shown can actually increase the danger to the rider and can cause more accidents. 

The best plan for any safety-minded rider is to purchase and use quality riding gear, grow their motorcycling skills, and invest in unobtrusive and easy to use ARAS product like Ride Vision. 

Read our next blog post about the Best Motorcycle YouTube Channels for New Motorcycle Riders.

Want to learn more? Sign up below to stay up to date on Ride Vision product releases, safety tips, and motorcycling safe! 

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Riding a motorcycle can seem intimidating at first.  For an “outsider” the two-wheeled world can seem complex and mysterious. There’s a different set of vocabulary to learn, new skill sets to acquire, gear to buy, licensing, and of course… the purchase of a bike to consider.

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