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Motorcycle Accidents

According to Insurance Information Institute, Motorcycle purchases, riding and consequently fatalities are at an all time high.

Brief Data

Fatalities and Injuries Break Down

According to NHTSA:5,154 motorcyclists died in crashes, up 6.6 percent from 4,837 in 2006, marking the tenth consecutive year of higher motorcycle deaths in 2007. Motorcycle fatalities are at their highest level since NHTSA began collecting data in 1975. From 1997, a historic low, to 2007 motorcycle fatalities rose 144 percent. In 2007, 103,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents, 15,000 more than in 2006 and up 94 percent from 53,000 in 1997.

In 2007 motorcyclists accounted for 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, 14 percent of all occupant fatalities and 4 percent of all occupants injured.

In 2007, 49 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes were age 40 or over, compared with 33 percent 10 years earlier. In contrast, fatalities among young motorcyclists have declined in the past 10 years, relative to other age groups. In 2007 fatalities in the under 30-year-old group dropped to 31 percent of total motorcyclists killed in crashes from 41 percent in 1997. Fatalities among motorcyclists in the 30-to 39-year-old group fell to 20 percent in 2007 from 26 percent ten years earlier.

Speeding: In 2007, 36 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 24 percent for drivers of passenger cars, 19 percent for light truck drivers and 8 percent for large truck drivers.

Licensing: Twenty-six percent of motorcycle riders who were involved in fatal crashes were riding without a valid license in 2007, compared with 13 percent of passenger vehicle drivers. Motorcycle operators were also 1.3 times more likely than passenger vehicle drivers to have a prior license suspension or revocation.

By Type of Motorcycle

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

Riders of “supersports” motorcycles have driver death rates per 10,000 registered vehicles nearly four times higher than for drivers of other types of motorcycles. Supersports have more horsepower than conventional motorcycles and can reach speeds of up to 190 mph. They are built on racing platforms and are modified for street use. The bikes are popular with riders under the age of 30. The bikes are light-weight and aerodynamically styled. In 2005, these bikes registered 22.5 driver deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles compared with 10.7 deaths for other sport models (related to supersports but do not have the acceleration, stability and handling of supersports). Standards and cruisers and touring bikes, with upright handlebars, have rates of 5.7 and 6.5 per 10,000 vehicles. In 2005, supersports accounted for 9 percent of registrations, and standards and cruisers made up 51 percent of registrations. Among fatally injured drivers, the IIHS says that drivers of supersports were the youngest—with an average age of 27. Touring motorcycle drivers were the oldest, 51 years old. Fatally injured drivers of other sports models were 34, on average; standard and cruiser drivers were 44 years old. Speeding and driver error were bigger factors in supersport and sport fatal crashes. Speed was cited in 57 percent of supersport riders’ fatal crashes in 2005 and in 46 percent for sport model riders. Speed was a factor in 27 of fatal crashes of riders of cruisers and standards, and for 22 percent of riders of touring models.

Supersports have the overall highest insurance losses under collision coverage among the motorcycle classes, almost four times higher than for touring models and more than six times higher than for cruisers. Nine of the ten motorcycles with the highest losses were supersports. Claim frequency is driving the high losses for supersports, meaning that they are involved in more collisions than other types of motorcycles—there were 9 claims per 100 insured vehicle years for supersports models, compared with 2.3 for all models. The models surveyed were all 2002-2006 models. Touring motorcycles had the most expensive claims because they are the most expensive to purchase. Supersport models are the most popular with thieves—with average loss payments for theft losses per insured vehicle years of $246 for 2002-2006 models, seven times higher than the average for all motorcycles. Supersport models had the highest frequency of thefts—31.8 per insured vehicle year, compared with cruisers and touring models which had the lowest at 1.1 claims per insured vehicle year. However, touring models had the highest average loss payments—$15,696, reflecting their high purchase price and upgrades.


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation

The Motorcycle Industry Council

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Insurance Information Institute

The DiBella Law Firm, P.C.
22 W. Washington St., Suite 1500
Chicago, IL 60602
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