How many motorcycle deaths per year? Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high performance capabilities.
When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re more likely to be injured or killed. The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2021, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 24 times the number in cars.
Because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Yet only 17 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders.
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not designed for on-highway use, but in recent years hundreds of riders died in crashes on public roads annually.
How many motorcycle deaths per year?
A total of 6,084 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2021. That is the highest number recorded and a 21 percent increase since 2019. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2021 and were nearly triple the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.
The rate of unlicensed fatally injured motorcycle drivers during 2021 was higher than the rate of unlicensed fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers (38 percent vs. 20 percent). Both rates increased substantially from 2019 to 2020 and were virtually unchanged in 2021.
Thirty-eight percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2021 occurred in single-vehicle crashes, and 62 percent occurred in multiple-vehicle crashes.
Age and sex
In the late 1970s the proportion of fatally injured motorcyclists who were 50 and older started to increase, rising from 3 percent of all rider deaths in 1975 to 14 percent in 1997 and 35 percent in 2021. In contrast, 26 percent of the fatally injured motorcyclists in 2021 were younger than 30, compared with 80 percent in 1975.
Ninety-two percent of motorcyclists killed in 2021 were males.
Fifty-seven percent of the female motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2021 were passengers, and their deaths represented 92 percent of the passenger deaths. The vast majority of male motorcyclists who died were drivers.
In 2021, 60 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers were helmeted. Helmet use was lower, at 46 percent, for people killed as passengers on motorcycles.
In 2021, 87 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted in states with helmet laws that cover all riders, in contrast to only 31 percent in states with no helmet law. In states with helmet laws that cover only some riders, 42 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted.
Motorcycle type and engine size
Engine sizes of motorcycles whose drivers were killed in crashes have gone up dramatically. Among motorcycle drivers killed in 2021, 34 percent drove motorcycles with engine sizes larger than 1,400 cc, compared with 9 percent in 2000 and less than 1 percent in 1990.
Among the motorcycles whose drivers were killed in 2021, 94 percent of touring bikes had engines larger than 1,400 cc, while virtually all supersport bikes had engine sizes of 1,000 cc or smaller.
Among fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2021, 83 percent of cruiser or standard motorcycle drivers were 30 or older, as were 93 percent of touring bike drivers. In contrast, 46 percent of fatally injured supersport and sport/unclad sport drivers in 2021 were younger than 30.
At 81 percent, helmet use was highest among fatally injured drivers of supersport motorcycles in 2021, followed closely by sport/unclad sport at 80 percent and then sport-touring at 67 percent. About half of fatally injured drivers of touring motorcycles and of cruisers or standard motorcycles were helmeted.
When and where they died
Fifty-nine percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2021 occurred during May-September. Fatalities peaked in June and were lowest in February.
Forty-nine percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2021 occurred on weekends, and those deaths were more likely to occur after 6 p.m. compared with weekdays.
Fifty-four percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2021 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. Deaths were more likely to occur in urban than rural areas (67 percent vs. 32 percent).
Twenty-nine percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2021 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent; in single-vehicle crashes this was 43 percent.
Forty-nine percent of motorcycle drivers killed at night (9 p.m. – 6 a.m.) in 2021 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.
Deaths of ATV riders on public roads have increased dramatically since 1982, the first year they were explicitly identified in FARS. The proportion of fatally injured ATV riders who were 40 and older increased from 9 percent in 1982 to 45 percent in 2021.
The proportion younger than age 20 decreased from 54 percent in 1982 to 20 percent in 2021. These data focus on straddle-type ATVs, as opposed to side-by-side models that have increased in popularity recently.
Eight percent of fatally injured ATV riders wore helmets in 2021.
Sixty-eight percent of fatally injured ATV riders were killed in crashes involving no other vehicles in 2021, compared with 44 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes and 38 percent of motorcyclists.
Among ATV riders killed in single-vehicle crashes in 2021, 62 percent involved the ATV rolling over during the crash. This was comparable with SUVs, pickups, and large trucks, but higher than cars (40 percent).
ATV rider deaths on public roads in 2021 were highest in July. Fifty-three percent of the deaths in 2021 occurred during May-September.
Seventy-five percent of ATV riders killed on public roads in 2021 were on rural roads. Of those, 88 percent were on minor roads.
In 2021, 42 percent of fatally injured ATV drivers on public roads had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. Impairment was highest at 58 percent among fatally injured ATV drivers ages 40-49.
How many motorcycle deaths per year in America?
According to the most recent data, there were 5,636 motorcycle fatalities in 2021 — the highest number ever recorded. Each year, the number of fatalities seems to rise. Texas, Arkansas and Missouri have the highest rates of motorcycle fatalities. Motorcycle fatalities are up 22% over the last decade.
How common are motorcycle deaths?
Motorcycle riders account for 14% of all traffic facilities, despite the fact only 3% of all registered vehicles are motorcycles. Motorcycle crashes also account for 18% of all occupant fatalities and 4% of all injuries to vehicle occupants.
Do motorcycles have the highest fatality rate?
Motorcycle accidents have a staggering 80% injury or death rate, while car accidents remain around 20%. Motorcycle riders over 40 are around 20 times more likely to be injured in the case of an accident than car drivers of the same age.
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