Are There More Motorcycle Crashes Than Car Crashes?

September 20, 2021

When the weather is good, motorcyclists hop on their bikes, eager to enjoy the thrill of the open road. But any time you climb on a motorcycle, you are statistically more likely to get into an accident than someone in a motor vehicle.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash, the Louisiana motorcycle injury lawyers at Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers can help you navigate your claim.

Overview of Motorcycle Crash Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States are motorcycles. Yet, they are involved in fatal accidents 6 times more often than passenger cars. When accounting for vehicle miles traveled (VMT), motorcycles are 29 times more likely to be in an accident. In 2019, this meant 5,014 fatalities and 84,000 injuries.

22% of fatal motorcycle crashes involve a rider over 55, an increase of 40% over the last 10 years. Additionally, 91% of motorcycle fatalities are male. Louisiana saw 1,589 motorcycle crashes in 2019, with 85 deaths.

Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

Speed plays a role in the higher number of motorcycle crashes than car crashes. 33% of motorcycle fatalities involve speeding, while only 22% of passenger car fatalities were related to speeding in 2019.

Alcohol is another factor in these crashes. 29% of motorcycle riders killed in an accident in 2019 were considered alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 g/dL or higher) at the time of the crash.

Time of day and location also contribute to motorcycle accidents. Only 9% of motorcycle crashes occur on the interstate, with 61% occurring in urban areas. However, 38% of fatal motorcycle crashes occur at night.

Surprisingly, inclement weather is not a factor in motorcycle accidents, with 97% occurring during clear or cloudy conditions. This may help explain why warmer, southern states like Louisiana have more motorcycle crashes than northern states. Places with warmer weather have a longer riding season (generally considered May-September), and people are more likely to ride frequently.

Unsurprisingly, 61% of motorcycle fatalities in 2019 involved multi-vehicle crashes. Often, those crashes involved a left-hand turn by a passenger car.

Common Nonfatal Injuries Resulting from a Motorcycle Crash

When you are in a car crash, layers of metal, plastic, and safety features like airbags protect you, limiting your injuries. However, you lack those safety precautions when riding a motorcycle, especially if you aren’t wearing the appropriate safety gear like a helmet or boots. Helmets protect your head from forceful contact with the pavement or other objects, and boots provide a structure, protecting the toes, feet, and ankles from fractures or breaks when a rider is thrown from their motorcycle or hit by another vehicle.

There is also no seatbelt on a motorcycle, meaning you are more likely to be thrown in a collision. The most common nonfatal injuries sustained during a motorcycle crash include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI): TBIs account for 15% of all motorcycle-related injuries. A TBI occurs when the head is hit with any excessive force, which causes swelling and other issues that impact brain function. TBIs include anything from a mild concussion to severe brain bleeds resulting in disability.
  • Road Rash: Road rash is a painful friction injury to the skin caused by sliding across the pavement when thrown from a motorcycle. It can be relatively minor (a few cuts and scrapes) or severe enough to require skin grafts to heal. Treatment usually involves disinfectants and antibiotics but can be more aggressive in extreme cases depending on whether the injury becomes infected or if there’s damage to deeper layers of tissue.
  • Fractures/Broken Bones: On average, motorcycles weigh about 400 pounds, so a broken bone is possible if one falls on you in a crash. The same is true if you are thrown from your motorcycle, as the force of impact can break bones. The CDC estimates that 30% of nonfatal injuries involve fractures and broken bones in the legs and feet.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Motorcycle and other vehicle accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries. These can be relatively minor or lead to permanent paralysis. The prevalence of spinal cord injuries in motorcycle crashes is due to the many ways a spine can be injured in a motorcycle accident. It may be pinned or crushed by the motorcycle or another vehicle, pierced by debris, or broken when the rider is thrown from the motorcycle.

Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers Can Help

The motorcycle injury lawyers at Dudley DeBosier can offer legal counsel if you are dealing with a personal injury case in Louisiana. If your motorcycle accident is the result of another driver’s negligence, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Contact us today for a free review of your case.

At Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers, we treat you like family, which means we offer a No Fee Guarantee, so you don’t pay us until you’ve received your settlement.