Motorcycles - CrashStats
TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS
2012 Data
DOT HS 812 035
June 2014
Motorcycles
In 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an
increase of 7 percent from the 4,630 motorcyclists killed in 2011. There were 93,000
motorcyclists injured during 2012, a 15-percent increase from 81,000 in 2011.
The following definitions apply to terms used throughout this fact sheet: The
motorcycle rider is the person operating the motorcycle; the passenger is a person
seated on, but not operating, the motorcycle; the motorcyclist is a general term
referring to either the rider or passenger. NHTSA publications prior to 2007 may
not reflect this terminology. The following vehicles are defined as motorcycles:
mopeds, two- or three-wheeled motorcycles, off-road motorcycles, scooters, mini
bikes, and pocket bikes. In 2012, two-wheeled motorcycles accounted for 93 percent
of all motorcycles in fatal crashes.
In 2012, 4,957
motorcyclists were
killed—a 7-percent
increase from the 4,630
motorcyclists killed
in 2011.
Table 1
Motorcyclist Fatalities and Injuries, and Fatality and Injury Rates, 2003–2012
Year
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Fatalities
3,714
4,028
4,576
4,837
5,174
5,312
4,469
4,518
4,630
4,957
Year
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Injured
67,000
76,000
87,000
88,000
103,000
96,000
90,000
82,000
81,000
93,000
Registered
Vehicles
5,370,035
5,767,934
6,227,146
6,678,958
7,138,476
7,752,926
7,929,724
8,009,503
8,437,502
8,454,939
Registered
Vehicles
5,370,035
5,767,934
6,227,146
6,678,958
7,138,476
7,752,926
7,929,724
8,009,503
8,437,502
8,454,939
Fatality
Rate*
69.16
69.83
73.48
72.42
72.48
68.52
56.36
56.41
54.87
58.63
Injury Rate*
1,250
1,324
1,402
1,312
1,443
1,238
1,130
1,024
965
1,099
Vehicle Miles ­Traveled
(millions)
Fatality Rate**
9,576
38.78
10,122
39.79
10,454
43.77
12,049
40.14
21,396
24.18
20,811
25.52
20,822
21.46
18,513
24.40
18,542
24.97
21,298
23.27
Vehicle Miles Traveled
(millions)
Injury Rate**
9,576
701
10,222
755
10,454
835
12,049
727
21,396
481
20,811
461
20,822
430
18,513
443
18,542
439
21,298
436
*Rate per 100,000 registered vehicles **Rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
Source: V
ehicle miles traveled and registered vehicles—Federal Highway Administration
Traffic deaths—Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS),
NHTSA traffic injuries—General Estimates System (GES), NHTSA
Note: In 2011, the Federal Highway Administration implemented an enhanced methodology for estimating registered
vehicles and vehicle miles traveled by vehicle type. These revisions were applied to data after 2006. In some cases
the changes were significant and should be taken into account when comparing registered vehicle counts and/or
vehicle miles traveled for 2006 and earlier years with the numbers for 2007 and later years.
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
2
Per vehicle mile
traveled, motorcyclists
were more than 26
times more likely
than passenger car
occupants to die in
a traffic crash.
In 2012, motorcyclists accounted for 15 percent of all traffic fatalities, 18 percent
of all occupant (driver and passenger) fatalities, and 4 percent of all occupants
injured. Of the 4,957 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes, 93 percent (4,625) were
riders and 7 percent (332) were passengers.
Motorcycles made up 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in
2012 and accounted for only 0.7 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. Per vehicle
mile traveled in 2012, motorcyclists were more than 26 times likely than passenger
car occupants to die in motor vehicle traffic crashes and 5 times more likely to be
injured (Table 2).
Per registered vehicle, the fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2012 was 6 times the
fatality rate for passenger car occupants. The injury rate for motorcyclists was
about the same as the injury rate for passenger car occupants.
Table 2
Occupant Fatality Rates by Vehicle Type, 2012
Fatality Rate
2012
Motorcycles
Passenger Cars
Light Trucks
Per 100,000
Registered Vehicles
58.63
9.66
7.92
Per 100 Million
Vehicle Miles Traveled
23.27
0.89
0.73
Motorcycle Involvement in Crashes
In 2012, 2,624 of all motorcycles (52%) involved in fatal crashes collided with
another type of motor vehicle in transport. In two-vehicle crashes, 75 percent of the
motorcycles involved in motor vehicle traffic crashes collided with the vehicles in
the front of them. Only 7 percent were struck in the rear.
Motorcycles are more likely to be involved in fatal collisions with fixed objects than
are other vehicles. In 2012, 22 percent of the motorcycles involved in fatal crashes
collided with fixed objects, compared to 18 percent for passenger cars, 14 percent
for light trucks, and 4 percent for large trucks.
In 2012, there were 2,317 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and
another type of vehicle. In 41 percent (953) of these crashes, the other vehicles were
turning left while the motorcycles were going straight, passing, or overtaking other
vehicles. Both vehicles were going straight in 524 crashes (23%).
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 speed limit was a contributing factor in the
crash. In 2012, 34 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were
speeding, compared to 22 percent for passenger car drivers, 18 percent for lighttruck drivers, and 8 percent for large-truck drivers.
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
3
Table 3
Motorcyclist Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes, by Age, Year, and Day
of the Week, 2003 and 2012
Weekday
(6 a.m. Monday to
5:59 p.m. Friday)
Number
Percent
Age
<30
30–39
40+
Total*
586
367
802
1,755
50
44
47
47
<30
30–39
40+
Total*
716
472
1,422
2,610
56
52
51
53
Weekend
(6 p.m. Friday to
5:59 a.m. Monday)
Number
Percent
2003
587
50
470
56
882
52
1,941
52
2012
564
44
430
47
1,340
48
2,335
47
Total
Number
Percent
1,179
839
1,694
3,714
100
100
100
100
1,283
906
2,767
4,957
100
100
100
100
*Totals include unknown age and unknown time of day.
From 2003 to 2012, motorcyclist fatalities increased by 33 percent (Table 3). Among
those increases, the 40-and-older age group made up 46 percent of motorcyclists
killed in 2003 as compared to 56 percent in 2012. Within the 40 and older age
group, fatalities increased by 63 percent over a 10-year period. In 2003, the average
age of motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes was 38 whereas in
2012 the average age was 43.
Table 4
Motorcycle Rider (Operator) Fatalities by Engine Size (cc), 2003 and 2012
Year
2003
2012
Up to 500
Number Percent
196
6
251
5
501–1,000
Number Percent
1,445
42
1,756
38
Engine Displacement
1,001–1,500
1,501 & Higher
Number Percent
Number Percent
1,350
39
94
3
1,342
29
747
16
Forty-five percent of motorcycle riders were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes
while riding motorcycles with engine sizes of 1,001 cubic centimeters (cc) or higher
in 2012, a 45-percent increase in fatalities from 2003 to 2012. Rider fatalities on
motorcycles with engine sizes of 1,000 cc or less showed an increase of 22 percent
during the same time period. (Table 4).
Licensing
Twenty-four percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2012 were
riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the collisions,
while only 12 percent of drivers of passenger vehicles in fatal crashes did not have
valid licenses. A valid motorcycle license includes a rider having a valid driver
license (Non-CDL License Status) with a motorcycle endorsement or a motorcycleonly license.
Unknown
Number Percent
342
10
529
11
Total
Number Percent
3,427
100
4,625
100
Twenty-four percent
of motorcycle riders
involved in fatal
crashes in 2012 were
riding their vehicles
without valid
motorcycle licenses.
Motorcycle riders involved in fatal traffic crashes were 1.3 times more likely than
passenger vehicle drivers to have previous license suspension or revocations (18%
and 14%, respectively).
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
4
In 2012, a higher
percentage of
motorcycle riders in
fatal crashes had BAC
levels of .08 g/dL or
higher than any other
type of driver.
Previous Driving Records
In Figure 1, motorcycle riders were shown to have the highest percentage of drivers
with previous driving convictions (DWI, speeding, and revocation) as compared to
other vehicle drivers.
Figure 1
Previous Driving Records of Drivers Involved in Fatal Traffic Crashes, by Type
of Vehicle, 2012
11.9%
12.6%
11.9%
12.9%
Recorded
Crashes
DWI
Convictions
0.5%
3.9%
2.6%
2.9%
Speeding
Convictions
Recorded
Suspensions
or Revocations
Vehicle Type:
Motorcycles
Passenger Cars
Light Trucks
Large Trucks
16.7%
16.1%
17.7%
8.2%
14.9%
14.0%
20.9%
18.2%
Note: Excluding all drivers with unknown previous records.
Forty-three percent of
motorcycle riders who
died in single-vehicle
crashes in 2012 had
BAC levels of .08 g/dL
or higher.
Alcohol
In fatal crashes in 2012, a higher percentage of motorcycle riders had blood alcohol
concentrations (BACs) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher than any other
type of motor vehicle driver. The percentages for alcohol-impaired drivers involved
in fatal crashes were 27 percent for motorcycles, 23 percent for passenger cars,
22 percent for light trucks, and 2 percent for large trucks.
In 2012, there were 1,335 (29%) fatally injured motorcycle riders who had BACs of
.08 g/dL or higher. An additional 360 (8%) had lower alcohol levels (BACs of .01 to
.07 g/dL).
The highest percentage of fatally injured motorcycle riders with BAC of .08 g/dL or
higher was the 40-44 age group (37%) , followed by the 45-49 age group (36%) and
35-39 age group (35%).
Forty-three percent of the 2,030 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle
crashes in 2012 had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher. Sixty-four percent of those killed in
single-vehicle crashes on weekend nights had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
5
Table 5
Motorcycle Riders Killed With BACs of .08 or Higher, by Crash Type and Time
of Day, 2003 and 2012
2003
Crash Type and
Time of Day
All Crashes
Single-Vehicle
Time of Day
Total
Total
BAC=.08+
BAC=.08+
Motorcycle
Motorcycle
Riders Killed Number Percent Riders Killed Number Percent
Total*
3,427
1,026
30
4,625
1,335
29
Weekday
1,637
377
23
2,468
548
22
Weekend
1,773
636
36
2,145
782
36
Total*
1,521
669
44
2,030
874
43
Weekday
649
245
38
926
346
37
Weekend
855
411
48
1,092
523
48
1,906
357
19
2,595
461
18
Weekday
988
132
13
1,542
202
13
Weekend
918
225
25
1,053
259
25
Daytime
1,721
210
12
2,443
345
14
Nighttime
1,670
791
47
2,145
970
45
Total*
Multi-Vehicle
2012
Motorcycle riders
killed in traffic crashes
at night were over
3 times more likely to
have BACs of .08 g/dL
or higher than those
killed during the day.
*Includes riders involved in fatal crashes when time of day was unknown.
Daytime - 6 a.m. to 5:59 p.m.
Nighttime - 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.
Motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes at night were over 3 times more likely to
have BACs of .08 g/dL or higher than those killed during the day (45% and 14%,
respectively).
The reported helmet use rate for motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes was 45
percent for those with BACs of .08 g/dL or higher as compared to 66 percent for
those with no alcohol (BAC=.00 g/dL).
Among drivers and motorcycle riders, drinking and driving has always been a
concern. In 2012, there were 4,625 motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic
crashes. Twenty-nine percent of these riders were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 or
higher). As seen in Table 6, the proportion of motorcycle riders killed who were
alcohol-impaired ranged from a high of 63 percent (Rhode Island) to a low of
3 percent (Utah).
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
6
Table 6
Motorcycle Rider Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes by State and Rider’s BAC, 2012
State
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Dist of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
National
Puerto Rico
Total Motorcycle
Riders Killed
93
9
130
68
415
75
38
15
4
456
130
37
21
141
136
55
46
95
72
23
72
47
125
46
37
95
29
19
41
25
71
59
160
190
16
146
75
48
200
8
137
20
129
428
27
11
82
80
28
103
12
4,625
47
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
Percent of Motorcycle Riders Killed, by Their BAC
BAC=.08+
BAC=.01+
31
36
31
31
24
29
25
34
23
29
29
39
25
37
40
48
18
28
27
36
26
33
33
37
28
30
35
44
34
40
30
39
27
31
24
27
29
34
43
52
30
39
29
42
25
34
22
30
31
38
32
43
29
37
33
41
33
34
29
37
23
32
19
23
22
34
30
40
32
51
33
44
33
39
17
24
30
38
63
63
41
49
20
35
26
36
36
45
3
8
28
28
27
34
34
40
26
34
30
34
43
44
29
37
33
44
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
7
Helmet Use and Effectiveness
NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists in 2012. If all
motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 781 lives could have been saved.
Helmets are estimated to be 37-percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to
motorcycle riders and 41 percent for motorcycle passengers. In other words, for
every 100 motorcycle riders killed in crashes while not wearing helmets, 37 of them
could have been saved had all 100 worn helmets.
Helmets are estimated
to be 37-percent
effective in preventing
fatal injuries to
motorcycle riders.
According to NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey, a nationally
representative observational survey of motorcycle helmet, seat belt, and child
safety seat use, use of DOT-compliant helmets in 2012 stood at 60 percent, a
decrease from 66 percent in 2011.
Reported helmet use rates for fatally injured motorcyclists in 2012 were 59
percent for riders and 48 percent for passengers, compared with 60 percent and
49 percent, respectively, in 2011. Conversely, 42 percent of the 4,957 motorcyclists
killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes were not helmeted. Table 7 shows that these
percentages ranged from a high of 84 percent (South Dakota) to a low of 5 percent
(Washington, Nebraska, and Louisiana).
All motorcycle helmets sold in the United States are required to meet Federal
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, the performance standard which establishes the
minimum level of protection for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists.
In 2012, 19 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico required helmet use
by all motorcyclists. Whereas 28 States only required helmet use by a subset of
motorcyclists (typically motorcyclists under age 18) and 3 States (Illinois, Iowa, and
New Hampshire) do not require helmet use by motorcyclists of any age.
In States without universal helmet laws, 62 percent of motorcyclists killed in
2012 were not wearing helmets, as compared to 9 percent in States with universal
helmet laws.
NHTSA estimates
that helmets saved
1,699 motorcyclists’
lives in 2012, and
that 781 more could
have been saved if
all motorcyclists had
worn helmets.
For more information:
Information on traffic fatalities is available from the National Center for Statistics
and Analysis (NCSA), NVS-424, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC
20590. NCSA can be contacted at 800-934-8517 or via the following e-mail address:
ncsaweb@dot.gov. General information on highway traffic safety can be accessed
by Internet users at www.nhtsa.gov/NCSA. To report a safety-related problem or to
inquire about motor vehicle safety information, contact the Vehicle Safety Hotline at
888-327-4236.
Other fact sheets available from the National Center for Statistics and Analysis are
Alcohol-Impaired Driving, Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, Children, Large Trucks, Occupant
Protection, Older Population, Overview, Passenger Vehicles, Pedestrians, Race and Ethnicity,
Rural/Urban Comparisons, School Transportation-Related Crashes, Speeding, State Alcohol
Estimates, State Traffic Data, and Young Drivers. Detailed data on motor vehicle traffic
crashes are published annually in Traffic Safety Facts: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle
Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System.
The fact sheets and annual Traffic Safety Facts report can be accessed online at
www‑nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/CATS/index.aspx.
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
8
Table 7
Motorcyclist Fatalities, by State and Helmet Use, 2012
State
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Dist of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
National
Puerto Rico
Total Motorcyclists Killed
Number
97
9
141
71
435
79
40
17
4
491
134
41
22
148
152
59
48
106
78
24
77
51
138
55
39
104
30
22
42
29
77
64
170
198
16
162
84
52
210
8
146
25
139
452
32
11
85
83
31
117
12
4,957
50
Helmeted
Percent
90
44
50
36
93
31
32
76
75
47
94
29
55
20
21
19
26
36
95
42
90
93
52
25
87
91
30
95
74
34
89
36
91
88
27
23
23
92
50
25
30
16
93
40
65
82
92
95
55
24
17
58
32
Not Helmeted
Percent
10
56
50
64
7
69
68
24
25
53
6
71
45
80
79
81
74
64
5
58
10
7
48
75
13
9
70
5
26
66
11
64
9
12
73
77
77
8
50
75
70
84
7
60
35
18
8
5
45
76
83
42
68
Shading indicates States requiring helmet use for all motorcyclists.
NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590
10710-060914-v2a
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