Nearly 4 out of 10 motorcycle accidents are fatal.
Motorcycles are often associated with freedom and living life on the edge, but that freedom may come at a cost. While car crashes have a fatality rate of less than 1 percent, a whopping 39 percent of motorcycle crashes from 2006 to 2020 involved fatalities and 47 percent involved injuries. In fact, if you get into a motorcycle accident, the chances of walking away with only property damage are just 14 percent. Keep reading for the most important statistics you need to know about motorcycle accidents in the United States and tips you can use to stay safe.
Although motorcycles make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the U.S., they account for over 5 percent of traffic fatalities, making them much more dangerous to ride than regular passenger vehicles.1
Injuries are more common than fatalities based on 2006-2020 data about motorcycle crashes. During this period, 39 percent of crashes involved fatalities, 47 percent involved injuries only, and 14 percent involved property damage only.
During this time, the number of motorcycle crashes increased by 11 percent, with an average year-over-year increase of 1 percent, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
|Year||Fatal motorcycle crashes||Injury-only motorcycle crashes||Property damage-only motorcycle crashes||Total|
In 2020, 9,208 motorcycle riders and passengers were involved in fatal crashes, making motorcycles one of the most deadly forms of motor vehicles.
Read on to find out where and when most motorcycle-related deaths occur.
From 2006 to 2020, the number of deaths from motorcycle accidents increased by 18 percent, an average increase of 1 percent each year.
In 2020, the majority of accidents involving motorcycle deaths occurred between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., which includes rush hour.
|Time of day||Number of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020|
|0:00 a.m.-0:59 a.m.||286|
|1:00 a.m.-1:59 a.m.||165|
|2:00 a.m.-2:59 a.m.||159|
|3:00 a.m.-3:59 a.m.||101|
|4:00 a.m.-4:59 a.m.||106|
|5:00 a.m.-5:59 a.m.||87|
|6:00 a.m.-6:5 9 a.m.||158|
|7:00 a.m.-7:59 a.m.||132|
|8:00 a.m.-8:59 a.m.||123|
|9:00 a.m.-9:59 a.m.||149|
|10:00 a.m.-10:59 a.m.||226|
|11:00 a.m.-11:59 a.m.||356|
|12:00 p.m.-12:59 p.m.||413|
|1:00 p.m.-1:59 p.m.||510|
|2:00 p.m.-2:59 p.m.||611|
|3:00 p.m.-3:59 p.m.||694|
|4:00 p.m.-4:59 p.m.||713|
|5:00 p.m.-5:59 p.m.||756|
|6:00 p.m.-6:59 p.m.||728|
|7:00 p.m.-7:59 p.m.||638|
|8:00 p.m.-8:59 p.m.||639|
|9:00 p.m.-9:59 p.m.||608|
|10:00 p.m.-10:59 p.m.||426|
|11:00 p.m.-11:59 p.m.||380|
Most motorcycle fatalities in 2020 occurred on the weekends — 41 percent, to be exact. Twenty-two percent of all fatalities occurred on Saturdays, while 19 percent occurred on Sundays.
|Day of week||Number of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020|
Seventy-eight percent of motorcycle fatalities in 2020 occurred during fine weather. Ten percent occurred during cloudy conditions, while only 2 percent occurred during rainy weather.
In 2020, most motorcycle deaths occurred in urban settings at 64 percent. Only 34 percent occurred in rural settings.
Florida had the largest number of motorcycle fatalities in 2020 with 564 deaths. This number accounted for 11 percent of all motorcycle fatalities in the U.S. that year.
|State||Total number of motorcycle fatalities in 2020|
|District of Columbia||7|
Along with motorcycles, ATVs are known to be an extremely dangerous form of transportation. Of course, many more people ride in passenger vehicles than in motorcycles and ATVs. However, in 2020, more than 70 percent of ATV deaths occurred from accidents involving only a single ATV, compared to 40 percent of single-vehicle motorcycle deaths and 47 percent of single-vehicle passenger vehicle deaths. On their own, ATVs are more dangerous than motorcycles and passenger vehicles.2
|Crash type||Number of ATV riders killed in crashes in 2020||Percentage of all ATV deaths in 2020||Number of motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2020||Percentage of all motorcycle deaths in 2020||Number of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2020||Percentage of all passenger vehicle deaths in 2020||Total people killed in car crashes in 2020|
|Percentage of total||1%||n/a||19%||n/a||80%||n/a||n/a|
Nearly half of all motorcycle drivers killed in 2020 had engines of 1,000 ccs or smaller; of those, most had supersport motorcycles. Thirty-four percent had engine sizes of 1,401 cc or higher.
|Motorcycle type||Number of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with engine size 0-1,000 cc||Number of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with engine size 1,001-1,400 cc||Number of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with engine size 1,401 and higher|
Young men are the demographic group most likely to be killed in motorcycle crashes.
The plurality of people who die in motorcycle crashes (22 percent) are between the ages of 25 and 34. People ages 25 to 54 make up over half of all motorcycle fatalities.
Seventy-four percent of motorcycle fatalities are men, while only 24 percent are women.
Nearly a third of people killed in motorcycle accidents since 2008 didn’t have valid licenses at the time of their deaths. Compare that to passenger vehicle deaths, where only 16 percent of drivers were unlicensed, and you can see the appetite for risk that correlates with motorcycle driving.
|Year||Number of fatal motorcycle crashes with no valid license||Number of fatal motorcycle crashes with valid license||Total|
About six in 10 people killed in motorcycle crashes in 2020 wore helmets at the times of their crashes, while about four in ten did not.
|Helmet use in fatally injured motorcycle drivers and passengers, 2020||Helmet||No helmet||Unknown||Total|
Alcohol impairment is a major cause of death among all drivers, but since riding motorcycles is particularly dangerous compared to passenger vehicles, DUIs are even more deadly for motorcyclists.
A BAC of .08 percent or higher means a person is not sober and cannot drive safely. Among motorcycle fatalities in 2020, 30 percent involved a driver with a BAC of .08 or higher, while 17 percent had BACs of .15 or higher, meaning they were extremely impaired.
|Highest driver BAC in g/dL||Number of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020|
|0.01 and above||4,337|
|0.08 and above||3,417|
|0.15 and above||2,000|
Eighty percent of people killed in motorcycle accidents in 2020 were drivers, the majority of whom were drunk. Nineteen percent were passengers.
|Occupant or non-occupant type||0, highest driver BAC in g/dL||.01-.07, highest driver BAC in g/dL||0.01 and above, highest driver BAC in g/dL||0.08 and above, highest driver BAC in g/dL||0.15 and above, highest driver BAC in g/dL||Total|
|Driver of a motor vehicle in transport||5,703||713||2,772||3,485||1,639||9,188|
|Passenger of a motor vehicle in transport||1,339||192||624||816||354||2,155|
|Occupant of a motor vehicle not in transport||10||8||6||14||1||24|
|Unknown occupant type in a motor vehicle in transport||2||0||0||0||0||2|
|Person on motorized personal conveyance||1||0||0||0||0||1|
|Person on non-motorized personal conveyance||2||0||0||1||0||2|
In 2020, the most deadly manner of collision for motorcycles was at an angle, which made up 40 percent of fatalities that year. However, a significant number, 30 percent, were collisions with objects other than moving cars. As you can see below, fixed objects can be deadly for motorcyclists.
Thirty-five percent of all motorcycle fatalities in 2020 involved speeding.
Nearly half of all motorcycle accidents in 2020 were injury-only. Let’s take a closer look at the data.
From 2006 to 2020, motorcycle accidents that resulted in injuries increased by 18 percent, an average increase of 1 percent each year.
A study published by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that the following types of injuries are the most common in motorcycle accidents:
Some positive news is that, according to National Safety Council data, helmet use among motorcyclists increased by 12 percent from 2002 to 2021 — going from 58 percent to 65 percent.4 Helmet use peaked in 2018-2019 with 71 percent usage among motorcyclists.
|Year||Motorcycle helmet use|
According to a report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only 18 states and Washington, D.C., require motorcyclists of all ages to wear helmets. These regulations are referred to as universal helmet laws. In contrast, 29 states only require helmets for those under 25, 20, 18, or 17 years of age (depending on the state), and three states — Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire — don’t require helmets for motorcyclists of any age.
Although motorcycles are inherently dangerous, you can decrease your risk of causing injuries and fatalities by following these best practices for safety.
Just how many motorcycles are in the U.S.? Data is available through 2020.
|Year||Number of registered motorcycles in the U.S.||Vehicle miles traveled (millions)|
As per the most recent data from the National Safety Council, there are 8.3 million registered motorcycles in the U.S., a 14 percent increase from 2007. However, since 2018, the number of registered motorcycles has declined after peaking in 2017 with 8.7 million.
Although there are more registered motorcycles in 2020 compared to 2007, the total vehicle miles traveled has decreased by 18 percent and has been on the decline since 2016. From 2019 to 2020 alone, vehicle miles traveled decreased by 10 percent, which may have been a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. As people were forced to stay inside, they drove their vehicles less and were less likely to register new ones.
Driving a motorcycle is an inherently risky activity, much riskier than driving a passenger vehicle. However, with knowledge of the latest death and injury statistics, plus an understanding of the best ways to stay safe, you can lessen your chances of accidents.
We used the following third parties to compile this report:
The life expectancy of a motorcyclist depends greatly on whether or not they wear a helmet and what their driving habits are. That said, the most common age of people who died in motorcycle accidents in 2020 was 30. Thirty-year-old motorcyclists accounted for 3 percent of all motorcycle fatalities that year, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The data also showed that the plurality of deaths, 15 percent, occurred among people between the ages of 25 to 34.
The safest place to ride a motorcycle is on an interstate highway at an intersection. According to 2020 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 90 percent of motorcycle crashes occurred on non-interstate roads, while 58 percent occurred in areas other than intersections.
The city with the most motorcycle deaths is Los Angeles, California. In 2020, 113 people died in motorcycle accidents in L.A., while the average across all U.S. counties was 4 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here are the 10 counties with the most motorcycle deaths in 2020:
|County||Number of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2020|
|Los Angeles County, California||113|
|Maricopa County, Arizona||85|
|Miami-Dade County, Florida||63|
|Harris County, Texas||62|
|Broward County, Florida||56|
|Riverside County, California||49|
|Wayne County, Michigan||44|
|San Diego County, California||43|
|Tarrant County, Texas||41|
|San Bernardino County, California||40|
According to 2020 data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the motorcycle with the highest number of fatal crashes is a supersport with an engine size of anywhere from zero to 1,000 cc. This motorcycle type and engine size accounted for more than one in five motorcycle deaths that year (21 percent). The second-most common were touring motorcycles with engines of 1,401 cc and higher, which accounted for 19 percent of all motorcycle deaths.
Motorcycle vs. Car Accident Statistics. J.D. Power. (2023).
Fatality Facts 2020 Motorcycles and ATVs. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute. (2022, May).
Injury Patterns and Severity Among Hospitalized Motorcyclists: A Comparison of Younger and Older Riders. Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. (2006).
Occupant Protection: Motorcycle Helmets. National Safety Council Injury Facts. (2023).
Quick Tips: General Guidelines for Riding a Motorcycle Safely. Motorcycle Safety Foundation. (2023).