What is Causing the recent Rise in Motorcycle Accident Deaths?

Researchers will Study Motorcycle Crash Causes and Prevention.The U.S. Department of Transportation has recorded a 150 percent jump in motorcyclist fatalities in the past decade. This huge rise in motorcycle fatalities has researchers perplexed.

Even though I do not want it to be so because I myself am a biker and motorcycle rider, Motorcyclists are considered the highest risk motorist group, accounting for 14 percent of all fatal traffic incidents.

Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System recorded 5,290 crash deaths among motorcyclists in 2008 and 96,000 injuries.

The traffic fatality rate for motorcycle riders has steadily increased since 1997, while other motor vehicle-related deaths declined.

The greatest number of motorcycle deaths on the road (36.4%) involves front-end crashes with other vehicles.

Collisions with motor vehicles overall are responsible for slightly less than half of the annual death toll among motorcyclists, according to the federal data.

The Federal Highway Administration will fund a study by Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma Transportation Center designed to pinpoint causes of the increasing fatality rate among motorcyclists and identify prospective interventions. Researchers will study commonalities among motorcycle crashes ranging from road configurations and environmental conditions to rider experience in assessing the reasons for the high rate of fatalities among motorcyclists.

The Oklahoma Transportation Center research follows a 1981 NHTSA-sponsored study as well as a study conducted by the Association of European Motorcycle Manufacturers from 1999 to 2000 and one conducted in Thailand in 2001. The 1981 study found several factors contributing to motorcycle fatalities, including auto driver failure to detect motorcyclists and lack of safety equipment such as helmets. The study recommended improved licensing and training, as well as measures to make motorcyclists more conspicuous on the roads.

The European study again cited driver error, attributing 50 percent of crashes to auto drivers and 37 percent to motorcycle operators. Significantly, more motorcycle crashes occurred on straight roadways and minor roads than on curved roads or major highways.

Unlike the American and European studies, the Thailand study found rider error to be the major contributor to motorcyclist fatalities, with alcohol implicated in 40 percent of crashes. The most common type of crash was the motorcyclist rear-ending an auto. In the Thai research, only a single motorcyclist acknowledged receiving any training in operating motorcycles; the study concluded that the absence of training led to the high rider error rate.

The upcoming study in Oklahoma will build on the knowledge attained in earlier studies, establishing which crash causes remain of concern and which interventions undertaken in response to earlier studies have proven effective, as well as identifying new contributors to the high incidence of motorcycle crashes.

Look folks, according to the data we have so far, many motorcycle accident deaths can be avoided by having proper training, proper safety equipment such as full leathers and helmets, making yourself more conspicuous (seen) while riding, and not using mind altering drugs or alcohol when riding.

The sad fact is the data shows that a majority of motorcycle related accidents and deaths are due to other motor vehicles such as cars, SUVs’, trucks, bus’s etc., running into the motorcyclist, or cutting them off. Therefore you must have the proper skill and clarity of mind to be constantly looking out for these idiots.

If you or a loved one has had a motorcycle accident anywhere in the State of California, or you were a passenger on a motorcycle that has had an accident in California, you may call me for a free consultation at 800-816-1529 x.1. I ride just like you!

By California Biker Attorney and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © 2010

17 thoughts on “What is Causing the recent Rise in Motorcycle Accident Deaths?

  1. Inexperienced riders… Faster… motorcycles… Bigger vehicles(SUV’s) to run over us. Stupidity… Wanna be cool… Testostrone…. Alcohol… Drugs… On and on and on… Oh yeah and not to mentioned cagers with their head up their rectum… Stay alert and focused 100 per cent cause it will keep you alive… No matter how many studies are done it is up to us… Get involved with an MRO… Enjoy your blogs… Thanks…

  2. Folks just don’t pay attention. Folks just do not care. Folks do not realize that their bad actions/choices have consequences. I think they should teach something in drivers education about motorcycle safety. At least tell the students bikers do not have the protection of a cage!!

  3. I’d have to say a lot is people driving cars (SUV’s, trucks) combined with their bad or impaired judgment of just how big the vehicle is. Drugs and alcohol. Giving out drivers licenses to just plain inept and stupid people.

    Perhaps a psychological test should be given along with the driving test.

    Cellphone and texting too. I’ve seen it all on the road.

  4. I agreee that cell phones and other distractions could be a factor in crashes. However, if this is the case there would be an overall increase in auto accidents. Does the data show this? What about the increase in ridership due to gas prices which have also risen in the past decade?

  5. I keep reading about the rise in motorcycle deaths. But, never see any numbers about the increase in the number of motorcycles and scooters on the road in the same time frame. Also, if there is an increase in that number, it likely means that there is an increase in new or reentry riders with low experience levels.
    Also, what is the ratio of miles ridden to deaths and how does this compare to miles driven in cars and auto related deaths.

  6. As of this weekend in the Metro Atlanta GA area there have been at least 10 riders down and out of the 10 4 have died. Riding season has just started and it is crazy here.
    Most of the accidents are occurring with sportbike riders.

    The Governors Office of Highway Safety will not assist in funding a program that I am trying to start to better educate riders in Georgia. It’s sad and I don’t want think about how many more will get injured or die this year.

  7. I am a personal injury attorney in Florida. In my opinion, by far the biggest cause of biker accidents and danger to the riders is the proliferation of SUVs and oversized vehicles that are driven by people who are talking on the cell phone or worse, texting while they drive (which, incredibly, is legal in my State). Most Florida motorcycle riders wear their helmets even though it is legal to ride helmetless. Based on some of the helmets I have personally seen after accidents, PLEASE don’t ride without one. Be safe.

  8. Ironic, Sandra Bullock Asked to Return Razzie Statue
    by Lindsay Robertson · April 19, 2010

    The co-founder of the Razzie Awards has taken to the media to ask Sandra Bullock to return the award she won last month for Worst Actress.

  9. i live in phoenix, and have had 4 instances where cars moved over into my lane while i was riding beside them…they just don,t see ya, and don,t look good enough before lane changes..i also was on the loop 101, and some retired guy in his big suv(i was in 2nd lane of 3 lane freeway), was in 3rd lane and moved over into me and push me over 3 inches before he realized he hit something..i was lucky i had a crash bar on my bike..sort of saved my let…i try not to ride middle lanes,,,no exits if something happens,..i also do not tailgate, espically at higher speeds, things happen rapidly. riding a bike, ride defensively, or start digging your grave

  10. You are 100% correct Dennis. I think I may have written an article about the increase in motorcycles on the road over the past decade as well. There are certainly more that’s for sure. I just don’t know if there is a 150% increase or not in the last decade.

    With respect to ratio of miles driven on bikes v. cars, I have not seen a study on that either. I would just guess that motorcycles has to be more only because winter conditions make riding motorcycles impossible in certain parts of the world for a substantial part of the year.

    With respect to my own practice, I get many more fatal motorcycle accident cases, than I do fatal car accident cases that is for sure. Also I know of many guys who were acquaintances, that have been killed in the past 10 years on motorcycles, as opposed to no one in cars!


  11. There are increasingly stories in the news about bikers being killed on our roads. They often seem to be taking unnecessary risks overtaking or showing off. Biking is an exciting, exhilarating pastime but we need to remember that we’re not invincible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Legal Links

Motorcycle Events