An estimated 142,000 motorcyclists have died in traffic crashes since the enactment of the Highway Safety and National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966.
Motorcycles made up nearly 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2006 and accounted for only 0.4 percent of all vehicle miles traveled.
Per vehicle mile traveled in 2006, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 8 times more likely to be injured.
In fatal crashes in 2007 a higher percentage of motorcycle riders had blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher than any other type of motor vehicle driver. The percentages for vehicle riders involved in fatal crashes were 27 percent for motorcycles, 23 percent for passenger cars, 23 percent for light trucks, and 1 percent for large trucks.
In 2007, 28 percent of all fatally injured motorcycle riders had BAC levels of .08 g/dL or higher. An additional 8 percent had lower alcohol levels (BAC .01 to .07 g/ dL).
The percentage with BAC .08 g/dL or above was highest for fatally injured motorcycle riders among two age groups, 45–49 (41%) and 40–44 (37%) followed by ages 35–39 (35%).
Forty-one percent of the 2,182 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2007 had BAC levels of .08 g/dL or higher. Sixty-five percent of those killed in single-vehicle crashes on weekend nights had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.
Per registered vehicle, the fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2006 was 5.5 times the fatality rate for passenger car occupants. The injury rate for motorcyclists was 1.2 times the injury rate for passenger car occupants.
In 2007, motorcyclists accounted for 13 percent of total traffic fatalities, 14 percent of all occupant fatalities, and 4 percent of all occupants injured.
Motorcycle Involvement in Crashes
In 2007, 2,641 (50%) of all motorcycles involved in fatal crashes collided with another type of motor vehicle in transport. In two-vehicle crashes, 78 percent of the motorcycles involved were struck in the front. Only 5 percent were struck in the rear.
Motorcycles are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision with a fixed object than are other vehicles. In 2007, 25 percent of the motorcycles involved in fatal crashes collided with fixed objects, compared to 18 percent for passenger cars, 13 percent for light trucks, and 3 percent for large trucks.
In 2007, there were 2,332 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. In 40 percent (939) of these crashes the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle. Both vehicles were going straight in 632 crashes (27%).
NHTSA considers a crash to be speeding-related if the driver was charged with a speeding-related offense or if an officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted s