The most recent compilation of nationwide motorcycle collision statistics amassed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) paints an unflattering picture about motorcycle safety for the year 2012:
- Over 8.4 million motorcycles were registered nationwide, making up just three percent of all registered motor vehicles in the United States;
- 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle collisions, an increase of seven percent from 2011;
- 93,000 more were injured, an increase of fifteen percent from the year before;
- Motorcycles accounted for only 0.7 percent of all vehicle miles traveled;
- Per mile traveled, motorcyclists were more than 26 times likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle collision, and five times more likely to suffer non-fatal injuries;
- In nearly fifty percent of fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcyclist was going straight, passing, or overtaking other vehicles.
NHTSA estimates that helmet use saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists in 2012, and if all motorcyclists wore helmets, an additional 781 lives could have been saved. Only 60 percent of motorcyclists wore D.O.T.-compliant helmets that year.
Yes, motorcycle riding, especially in urban areas, is statistically more dangerous than driving or occupying a four-wheeled vehicle. Be safe out there, folks. And make sure to carry ample insurance coverage on your motorcycle, especially uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage. The same motorists who are likely to hurt you are often the ones carrying insufficient insurance, or none at all.