Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the ‘Motorcycle Crash Causes and Outcomes: Pilot Study” is a detailed reporting on the causes and statistics regarding motorcycle crashes in the United States. The majority of accidents continue to involve automobiles, however the percentage of motorcycles involved has continued to rise since the late 90’s. Along with the rising in involvement, there has also been an increase in motorcycle fatalities. In two-vehicle accidents, one report found a staggering 85% fatality rate for motorcyclists. Among the causes for accidents, there are three major factors that have contributed to this trend.

A shift in the leading cause of vehicular accidents

While distracted driving has become the leading cause for automobile accidents, alcohol intoxication remains a major cause in motorcycle crashes. When operating a vehicle, such as a motorcycle, that requires a lot more focus and balance, the consumption of alcohol can result in more frequent operator failure than in a standard automobile. Nearly three-quarters of the riders in reported accidents involving just them and stationary vehicles or objects had blood alcohol levels above the national limit of .08 when tested. According to the NHTSA report, around 69% of motorcycle driver fatalities occurred when the driver was also intoxicated beyond the legal limits.

Age differentials are also playing a different factor in motorcycle accidents

Despite a long standing belief that seasoned riders are typically better drivers and thus less prone to accidents or vehicular fatalities, an emerging shift has been seen in the numbers. At the beginning of the 90’s the HURT report, a California and surrounding territories study, endorsed that younger riders were at greater risk. However, with the increased popularity and aging population, more seniors are taking up riding motorcycles. Lack of experience, frailer bodies and a preference to heavier bikes have contributed to an increase in fatalities among riders aged around 40 and above. Younger riders carry the least number of accidents and fatalities because of the popularity of lighter-framed bikes and better reflexes.

A typical factor that has long been a contributor to accidents

From the compilation of NHTSA’s report on two-vehicle crashes that was released a few years ago, an increasing percentage of motorcycle drivers were speeding. Nearly 30% of motorcycle drivers were going over the limit at the time of the accident. In comparison, only 4% of automobile drivers were speeding. Alone, or combined with other factors, speeding increases the risk of accidental injury and death for riders significantly more than those in standard vehicles.