Although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities, 17% of all occupant fatalities, and 3% of all occupant injuries in 2017. A factor that directly influences motorcycle fatality trends is helmet use. (Explore helmet use trends.)

Fatalities among motorcycle riders and passengers decreased 3% from 2016 to 2017, while the rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased 2%. Longer term trends show virtually no change in the number of deaths from 2007 to 2017, but a 6% increase in the death rate, from 24.18 to 25.67. The number of motorcycle fatalities now stands at 5,172. Over the last 10 years, motorcycle fatalities peaked in 2008 (5,312), and reached a low point in 2009 (4,469).

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The number and rate of nonfatal injuries both decreased 14% from 2016 to 2017.  Longer term nonfatal injury trends cannot be assessed. Starting in 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) transitioned from the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) General Estimates System (GES) estimate system to Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS) estimate system. CRSS estimates and NASS GES estimates are not comparable due to different sample designs, so 2016 and 2017 injury estimates should not be compared to earlier years.

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*2016 and 2017 injury estimates are not comparable to previous years.

Motorcycle exposure or use trends have been mixed from 2007 to 2017. Although the number of registered motorcycles has increased 22% since 2007, the number of vehicle miles driven has decreased 6%. This decrease in miles traveled explains how the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles has increased since 2007, while the number of deaths showed little change.

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The infographic highlights a few key motorcycle fatality trends for 2017. The majority of motorcyclist fatalities occurred:

  • On urban roads (60%),
  • In good weather (97%),
  • During daylight conditions (58%)
  • In crashes involving two vehicles (53%)
  • When wearing helmets (61%)
  • When NOT alcohol-impaired (72%)
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How to Use Injury Facts® Charts and Tables

Sources: National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2019, July). Motorcycles: 2017 data (Updated, Traffic Safety Facts. Report N. DOT HS 812 785). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

NSC analysis of NHTSA FARS data.

See data details