Many people will say that if you are riding a motorcycle, it is only a matter of time before you crash. Fear is a good deterrent, and many people may reconsider riding a motorcycle.
However, is it true that you will eventually crash if you ride a motorcycle for long enough?
If you ride a motorcycle, will you eventually crash? If you ride a motorcycle, it does not mean that you will eventually crash. There are many motorcyclists that have been riding for many years without crashing. However, many motorcyclists may crash eventually. Whether a motorcyclist will crash depends on many factors like their skill, weather and traffic conditions, and more.
That was a topic that interested me as well, so I decided to get into the nitty-gritty stuff and pull out what the statistics and data say about motorcycles and how likely motorcyclists are to crash.
To find out more, continue reading below.
Is it guaranteed that you will crash if you ride a motorcycle?
To paint the whole picture, we should first examine what the national statistics say.
Motorcyclists injury rates
Let’s start with the injury rates, and later we will go over the more serious consequences.
It may interest you to know that while the fatality rates do follow certain trends and move up and down, the injury rates have remained overall the same over the past decade.
Motorcyclists’ injury rates remain within certain percentages compared to the total number of registered motorcycles. Per 100,000 registered motorcycles, there are between 965 and 1,433 injuries. The trend is all over the place; however, a slight decrease in injuries can be observed over the past several years.
Experts estimate that motorcyclists fatalities happen 26 times more frequently than car fatalities, and they are 5 times more likely to be injured.
Overall, 78.3% of motorcycle crashes result in an injury. However, those injuries do vary in their severity.
Motorcyclists fatality rates
The data between 1997 and 2001 shows that motorcycle fatalities accounted for anywhere between 5% and 7.6% of the total vehicle fatalities. In numbers, this would translate into 2,116 to 3,181 fatalities per each year.
There was an increasing trend in the crashes and fatalities back then.
However, that is relatively old data. What does the more recent data suggest? Unfortunately, it does seem the trend has been continuing to increase.
In 2013, motorcycles accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities. During that year, the total number of fatalities was 4,668, with 94% being the riders and 6% the passengers.
However, those percentages do not give us the whole picture. When we compare those numbers to the total number of motorcycles being registered, we will see that the fatality rates per motorcycles registered have been slowly but steadily decreasing between 2004 and 2013. (With 2009 and 2014 being some of the lowest numbers overall.) Almost the same trend is observed if we consider the fatality rates compared to the miles traveled on a motorcycle.
The majority of motorcycle fatalities usually occur during the day and particularly between 3 pm and 9 pm.
Unfortunately, after 2014 the number of crashes has been somewhat increasing according to the recent data.
Overall, 4.24% of motorcycle crashes result in a fatality.
Will you eventually crash your motorcycle?
One of the things numbers and tables are always good at is to keep track of trends. So far, you have seen that motorcyclists are significantly more likely to be injured during a motorcycle crash and that fatality rates among them are also a lot more common.
Injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists are always higher than car drivers because cars are way more secure, and the driver is not exposed to the outside.
However, the overall higher rates do not mean that you will crash if you get on a motorcycle. Many other factors play an important role here (I will talk about these a good bit in a moment.). The injury rates per registered 100,000 registered motorcycles are roughly around 1,000, and the fatality rates are around 60.
The data also suggests that there are around 450 injuries per 100,000,000 miles traveled and roughly 25 fatalities.
Whether or not those numbers will be significant for you will depend on your personal opinion
Overall just because you are riding a motorcycle does not automatically mean you are guaranteed to crash. A lot more cars are involved in crashes every day; however, crashing with a motorcycle is simply more dangerous. This brings us nicely to the next question.
What are the odds of getting in a motorcycle crash?
While riding a motorcycle, some estimates suggest that your overall lifetime odds of getting in a motorcycle crash are 1 in 770. In comparison, the lifetime odds of getting in a car crash are 1 in 303.
For comparison, the lifetime odds of getting in a pedestrian accident are similar to those of a motorcycle 1 in 649.
What increases your odds of crashing while riding a motorcycle?
First, it is important to establish what is a crash. Different people may consider different things a crash. However, I will be talking strictly about accidents and not, for example, dropping your motorcycle at the driveway.
Lack of experience
I know people that crashed after just a few years of riding while others have more than a few decades of experience and have never crashed a single time.
A lot of motorcyclists simply do not ride within their skill and ability range. Motorcycles are an outstanding way to experience freedom, and people want to feel the rush of riding their motorcycle fast, but as it stands, this proves to be extremely dangerous.
To get good at riding a motorcycle takes a lifetime of learning. I talk more about this in my article about how long it takes to get good at riding a motorcycle.
Looking at the statistics from 2013, we can see that 25% of the motorcycle riders involved in a fatal crash did not have a valid motorcycle license.
Get yourself the necessary motorcycle license. This is the beginning. However, things do not stop here.
People say that learning starts once you graduate from university. And the same thing applies to motorcycles. Your learning has just started. You will constantly be learning. This is why passing the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) courses is also recommended and well worth your while.
See article: Is passing the MSF course worth it?
Always strive to improve your riding skill. Enroll in different courses, read books, watch videos, etc. Becoming a good rider takes time, and it is a slow process.
Oftentimes due to lack of experience, you may be positioning yourself in the worst possible spots on the line where other drivers may not see you. Many beginners will have trouble knowing when and if they are moving fast enough, too.
In the beginning, you still don’t know when the hazards will happen, so you have to be extremely careful. Cars turning left (or right depending on where you live), drivers pulling out in front of you, and more are the beginner’s worst nightmare.
Motorcyclists, especially more experienced and seasoned ones, will tell you that you should ride your motorcycle defensively in order to minimize the risks as much as possible.
In other words, you should ride your motorcycle as if everyone on the road is either trying to run you over or simply does not see you or care about you.
Do not expect drivers to respect your right of way or even to see you. Not all drivers are competent or able to react as quickly as possible. The consequences for them may be minimal, but not so much for you.
It is not that car drivers hate motorcyclists. Of course, there are some drivers who do not care at all regardless of whether you are riding a motorcycle or a pedestrian, but motorcycles are just put at a disadvantage while on the road.
They can easily squeeze into the blind spot of a driver, and since they are smaller than other cars, they can sometimes be easily missed, or the distance and speed of the motorcycle underestimated.
Have the right mentality. You are not at the top of the food chain; instead, you are a minnow just trying to survive.
Not being focused and concentrated
The worst time to be unfocused and unconcentrated is while you are driving your motorcycle. Avoid distractions and focus on the cars, road, and the environment around you.
Don’t get distracted by women; we all know what can happen.
Lack of proper gear
Every now and then, you would see somebody riding their motorcycle with a t-shirt, shorts, or even without a helmet.
Riding without a helmet may not be illegal, depending on where you live, but this does not mean helmets are obsolete.
Experts believe that helmets can reduce the fatal outcome of motorcycle crashes by as much as 37%.
The same applies to jackets, gloves, pants, etc. The right motorcycle gear can literally be a lifesaver.
Driving under influence
I think this is very obvious, but it needs to be mentioned nonetheless.
If you have been drinking, you should not be riding or driving any type of vehicle. Period.
According to the data from 2013, motorcyclists were holding the first place when it comes to fatal crashes while DIY. 27% of the fatal crashes due to an alcohol-impaired driver were motorcyclists compared to 23% for car drivers.
About 40% of the motorcyclists that died in a single-vehicle crash were also drinking.
However, this does not apply only to alcohol, drugs, medications, and other substances that can severely impair your reaction time, and the ability to control your motorcycle should be avoided.
We all have heard the stories about drives falling asleep behind the wheel. And we all know how those stories usually end.
Well, the same thing applies to motorcyclists.
If you are extremely tired or have been doing night shifts, you can, too, fall asleep while riding your motorcycle. Just because you are on a motorcycle does not mean you cannot fall asleep and crash.
Not following the traffic rules
Follow the traffic rules, they are there for a reason, and it is to keep people as safe as possible.
Some motorcyclists do not adhere to the speed limits, which is undeniably very dangerous. The same thing applies to other practices like line splitting. All of these increase your risk of crashing.
A motorcycle in poor condition
A motorcycle that is kept in good condition will be safer and more reliable. Make sure to follow all the recommended cleaning and maintenance procedures.
If you are leaving your motorcycle sitting for a long period of time, make sure to inspect it thoroughly each time before hopping on it and riding it. More information can be found in my article about how long you can leave a motorcycle sitting.
Depending on where you have stored it and for how long some repairs or part replacements may be required.
Looking up to the wrong people
We are social creatures, and hanging with the wrong people is sometimes the fastest way to get in trouble.
Many beginner motorcyclists may want to find a mentor. Somebody, they can look up to for advice and help. This is good. In fact, it is recommended. However, it is absolutely vital that you find the right person.
You want a mature person. Somebody who rides for fun and does not care about showing off or knee dragging. Somebody who does not feel a need to speed up and test the speed limit of their motorcycle.
Does every motorcycle rider crash?
We all have heard the horror stories. I am sure you have had a good deal of the “There are two types of riders; those who have crashed, and those who will.” or the “It is not if you crash, it’s WHEN you crash,” type of talk.
The simple truth is that not every motorcycle rider will crash. Although the odds of crashing your motorcycle are high, they are not as high as crashing with a car. It is not guaranteed that you will crash. However, it can happen, and the odds of getting injured or even killed are high.