It’s difficult to determine how many accidents are caused specifically by motorcycle riders because, most of the time, both drivers contribute to the crash. However, in 2020, motorcycle riders made up 14 percent of traffic accident fatalities in the US, despite motorcycles accounting for only 3 percent of vehicles on the road.
Motorcycle accidents are about 28 times more likely to result in fatalities, and bike riders are four times more likely to be injured. Motorcycle accidents disproportionately injure motorcycle riders, regardless of who causes the accident. This statistic is because bikes lack safety features like seatbelts and airbags, and a biker is more exposed than someone riding inside a car.
Many motorcyclists are also ejected from their bikes, which increases the risk of serious injury. Car riders are usually only ejected if they fail to wear a seatbelt.
The Insurance Information Institute reports that the US fatality rate for motorcycles per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is usually between 23 and 25 percent but rose to 31 percent in 2020 (the latest year they have data for).
These numbers line up with data that shows traffic fatalities in general rose in 2020, despite a decrease in traffic due to the pandemic. Experts have theorized that drivers engage in more risky behavior, such as speeding, when fewer cars are on the road.
If we ignore the unusually high rate of motorcycle fatalities for 2020, the average fatality rate for motorcycle accidents is just under 25 percent. If we include the 2020 numbers, it’s about 25.4 percent.
Injury rates are also quite high, and overall, motorcyclists have an 80 percent chance of injury or death in an accident, compared to about 20 percent in a car accident. The most common cause of death is head injuries.
There are several steps you can take to be safer. First, invest in a motorcycle safety course. Even if you’re an experienced rider, brushing up on skills or learning new techniques for driving defensively on your bike never hurts. Some schools offer classes for beginners and seasoned riders alike, so everyone can find a class that matches their experience level.
Unfortunately, you can only control how you operate your bike and not how other motorists drive. While improving your safety skills can reduce the risk of an accident, it can’t completely eliminate it, so the next step is to buy and use safety gear.
The most important item is your motorcycle helmet. The CDC reports that helmet use reduces the risk of death in an accident by 37 percent for riders and 41 percent for passengers. It also reduces the risk of head injury by 69 percent.
Helmets work best when they fit snugly, offering even pressure around your head. When you try on a helmet, shake your head side-to-side to ensure the helmet doesn’t move.
Your helmet should also have rugged chin straps with solid rivets and a DOT sticker indicating the helmet meets federal standards. The NHTSA also provides a list of ways to recognize unsafe helmets.
A general rule of thumb is to replace your helmet every 3-5 years, depending on your use.
If you use your bike as your sole means of transportation and wear the helmet daily, it will deteriorate faster, and you should lean toward replacing it every three years. Meanwhile, five years is probably sufficient if you typically use your car for daily trips and only ride your bike some weekends.
If you’ve been in an accident, we advise you to replace your helmet immediately, regardless of how old it is.
Once you have a good helmet, you can further reduce the risk of injury by buying motorcycle gear to protect the rest of your body.
Both online and brick-and-mortar bike shops offer a wide selection of clothing items for bike riders. These aren’t just meant to make a fashion statement – they are padded and reinforced to reduce the impact should you hit the ground during a crash.
Some people don’t want to wear a motorcycle jacket or long pants while riding in the summer heat, but there are ventilated options that keep you cool while providing protection. Additionally, motorcycle gloves protect your hands, and a sturdy pair of motorcycle boots will reduce the risk of foot and ankle injuries.
A motorcycle accident can happen quickly and potentially cause serious injury, even if you take all precautions.
Call 911 to report the crash and get help for any injuries. Always let the paramedics check you out, even if you feel fine – sometimes, the shock or adrenaline rush following an accident can initially suppress pain and other symptoms.
Or, you may initially have little to no pain but wake up a day or two later with serious neck, back, or joint pain. If you develop new or worsening symptoms after your accident, don’t hesitate to see a doctor and let them know about your accident.
Many people are concerned about paying their medical bills after a motorcycle crash, and this is only one of the damages you might sustain. You could also lose time at work because of injuries, have to pay for bike repairs, or suffer a permanent disability or disfigurement.
For these reasons, we recommend calling a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Due to North Carolina laws, you must provide evidence that the other driver was 100 percent responsible for the accident to collect damages from that driver or their insurance carrier. Your attorney will help you build a strong case and ensure that you seek compensation for all possible damages.
At Tatum & Atkinson, we have an experienced legal team who will work relentlessly to secure the compensation you deserve. That’s why we’ve recovered more than $100 million in compensation for our clients.
Please call us at 800-LAW-0804 for a free consultation about your bike accident. We’ll answer your questions and explain the options you can take.
If we take your case, you won’t owe us anything until we win or settle it.