Motorcyclist Safety

Motorcyclist

Motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities. In 2016, 5,286 motorcyclists lost their lives on America's roads. In states without universal helmet laws, 11.5 times as many motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets.Based on preliminary, state-reported data, GHSA projects a 5.6% decline in motorcyclist fatalities in 2017.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides these statistics on motorcycle safety in the United States:

  • Helmet Use
    NHTSA estimates that motorcycle helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 802 lives could have been saved.2
  • Licensing Issues
    Twenty-seven percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the collisions.2
  • Impaired Riding
    In 2016, there were 4,950 motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,259 (25%) were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 or higher).2
  • Speeding
    In 2016, 33 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding.2

States use both national and statewide data to find the right mix of rider education, enforcement and laws to decrease deaths and injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes.

1 National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2017, October). 2016 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview (Traffic Safety Facts Crash•Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 456). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812456

National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2018, February). 2016 Data: Motorcycles (Traffic Safety Facts Crash•Stats. Report No. DOT HS 812 492). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812492

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Laws

Currently, about half the states require helmets for all motorcyclists. Most other states require helmets for certain riders, and a few have no helmet law. 

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