Motorcycle Crash Studies and Statistics
Research to Prevent Crashes and Reduce Injuries
The findings of the Hurt Report referenced below, published over three decades ago, are still relevant today. To briefly summarize the report’s conclusions regarding helmet use, Hurt found that
- using a safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention or reduction of head injury;
- that the safety helmet is a significantly effective injury countermeasure; and
- that helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all level of injury severity.
Motorcycle Crash Causation Studies
- Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors & Countermeasures - the full "Hurt Report"
The Hurt Report published in 1981 identified several factors involved in motorcycle crashes. A comprehensive study of Michigan’s serious motorcycle crashes shows that nearly thirty years later, those same factors are still present in today’s crashes. Successfully reducing Michigan’s motorcycle crashes will require serious, dedicated, and undoubtedly controversial measures.
—Michigan Motorcycle Safety Action Plan - 2009-2012
- NHTSA Alphabetical Index of Motorcycle Safety Documents
- Motorcycle Crash Causes & Outcome: Pilot Study - a comprehensive, in-depth motorcycle crash causation study (MCCS) designed to provide a better understanding of motorcycle crashes in order to develop more appropriate countermeasures, the likes of which has not been conducted or sponsored by the U.S. DOT in over 30 years
- Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes - a NHTSA report released September 2007 that analyzed fatal two-vehicle motorcycle crashes for trends and crash characteristics using FARS data of crashes in 2005, with these and other eye-opening findings as to the role motorcycle operators played in crash causation:
- In nearly three-fourths of the two-vehicle motorcycle crashes involving passenger vehicles, the role of the motorcycle was recorded as the striking vehicle.
- Alcohol involvement among motorcycle operators killed was almost 2.5 times the alcohol involvement of the passenger vehicle drivers involved in these crashes. Of the alcohol involved (BAC .01+) motorcycle operators killed in these crashes 69 percent had BACs of .08+, which is above the illegal limit in all States.
- Twenty-four percent of the motorcycle operators killed in two-vehicle crashes involving passenger vehicles in 2005 had an invalid license compared to 8 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers involved in these crashes.
- Of the motorcycle operators who were killed in two-vehicle motorcycle crashes involving passenger vehicles 27 percent were speeding at the time of the crash compared to 4 percent of the passenger vehicle drivers who were involved in these crashes.
- In 55 percent of the head-on two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles, the role of the motorcycle was recorded as the striking vehicle and in 68 percent of the rear-end crashes the role of the motorcycle was recorded as the striking vehicle.
- Motorcycle Accidents In Depth Study (MAIDS) - the first complete European in-depth study of motorcycle accidents
- An In-Depth Study of Motorcycle Crashes - London 1994
Motorcycle Crash Injury Outcome
Injury Severity and Causation Factors of Motorcyclists in Traffic Accidents in comparing Drivers of Motorcycle and All Kinds of Motorized Two-wheelers. Accident Research Unit and Biometric Institute, Hannover Medical School.
This study describes the injury frequency and injuries in detail for motorcycle drivers on German roads involved in traffic accidents including the influence of helmets on injury severity.
- An Analysis of Hospitalized Motorcyclists in the State of Maryland Based on Helmet Use and Outcome - a study that gathered data on injured motorcyclists involved in crashes in Maryland who were either killed or transported to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (STC) in Baltimore, Maryland, with six-month and one-year post-crash assessments of survivors
By analyzing riders who were injured, this project has shown that the likelihood of sustaining a brain injury increases when wearing a noncompliant helmet.
This study has provided further evidence regarding the effectiveness of use of DOT-certified helmets to reduce and prevent the severity of head injuries.
- Youth Motorcycle-Related Hospitalizations and Traumatic Brain Injuries in the United States in 2006 - an article appearing in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published online November 2010
- Motorcycle Helmets Associated with Lower Risk of Cervical Spine Injury: Debunking the Myth - the study
- Motorcycle helmets reduce spine injuries after collisions - the news release wherein study leader Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., stated:
We are debunking a popular myth that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle can be detrimental during a motorcycle crash. Using this new evidence, legislators should revisit the need for mandatory helmet laws.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics
- NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts - click on your state for quick and easy access to its traffic safety facts, including estimates of motorcyclists' lives saved by helmet use
- Comparative Analysis of Motorcycle Accident Data from OTS and MAIDS - a study commissioned by the Department for Transport, Road User Safety Division, released April 2007, to compare the findings of the European Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study with data from the UK On The Spot study, which collected all road accident "on-the-spot" data from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands
- Motorcycle Helmet Fact Sheet by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety - a July 2007 fact sheet that contains fatality and injury statistics related to helmet use and helmet laws
- Risky Ride: More motorcycle deaths fuel new debate over helmet laws - Gannett News Special Report with a U.S. map of states you can mouse over to view quick statistics of an individual state's motorcycle accidents and then click on to access county-by-county details