Motorcycle Accidents Up—and Riders Are 28X More Likely to Be Killed in a Crash

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Julian de Sevilla
Updated on Jun 27, 2022 · 2 min read
The rate of fatal motorcycle crashes across the country increased 11% from 2019 to 2020, after decreasing consistently since 2016. Motorcycle deaths increased at over twice the rate of all vehicular deaths, which increased as well. 
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and ValuePenguin’s analysis of recent accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells a sobering story: It’s dangerous to be a motorcyclist in the United States. 
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Motorcycles are more dangerous by design

Much of what is appealing to riders about motorcycles is exactly what makes them so deadly. They’re fast and nimble, and there’s very little between riders and the fresh air and open road. 
With that freedom comes tremendous risk. In 2020, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to die in an accident than people in passenger vehicles.

Key findings from motorcycle accident statistics

Weekends in the summer are by far the most dangerous time to be out on a motorcycle. 
  •  49% of all motorcycle fatalities between 2016 and 2020 took place between 6 pm Friday and 6 am Monday. 
  • Fatalities involving all other types of vehicles are more common on weekdays, possibly due to increased commuter traffic.
  • 49% of all fatalities happened between June and September. This makes sense, especially in states with harsh winters.
  • 13% of all fatalities happen in July, more than in any other month.
  • 79% of fatal motorcycle accidents since 2016 took place in clear conditions, suggesting human error may be to blame.
  • About a third of all fatal motorcycle crashes from 2016 to 2020 involved speeding.

Which states had the most motorcycle fatalities?

Texas, Louisiana, Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Arkansas had the highest rates of fatal crashes per 1,000 motorcycles, making them the deadliest states for riders. Alaska, Iowa, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Wisconsin had the lowest rates.

Do motorcycle helmet laws protect riders?

Only 18 states and D.C. legally require all motorcyclists to wear helmets regardless of age, but helmet laws don’t necessarily guarantee more safety. Washington, D.C. has a universal helmet law for all riders, yet the nation’s capital still sees some of the country’s highest fatality rates.
Conversely, Minnesota and Wisconsin had the lowest rates of motorcycle fatalities in the country, and both states only require riders under 18 to wear helmets. 

Get the best price for motorcycle or car insurance

Every state except Florida requires motorcyclists to carry motorcycle insurance, and of course, car insurance is required in almost every state. Good coverage is always a safe bet—riding a motorcycle is risky enough as it is. 
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