Motorcycle accidents cause injuries and death more so than do accidents involving cars. Motorcycle drivers and passengers are not protected by the external metal of a car and they often do not wear a protective helmet. Motorcycles can crash by losing control, by having the motorcycle strike a moving vehicle or by striking a fixed object like a guardrail, tree or concrete barrier. These latter types of collisions are considered the most dangerous, yielding the highest mortality rate.
The direct costs in the US from motorcycle crashes were $16 billion in 2010, but the full cost is likely more than that because it is tough to measure all of the possible medical expenses. Motorcycle drivers are involved in fatalities more often than drivers of other types of vehicles, up to thirty times the rate of death when compared to other vehicle collisions.
In 2010, 82,000 motorcyclists suffered injuries and 4,502 were killed in motorcycle crashes in the US. The average cost of a single fatal crash was about $1.2 million USD. Injury accidents cost between $2500 and $1.4 million, depending on the severity of the accident.
Treating injuries can be long and expensive and the actual expenses are only tallied for a couple of years. There are disability costs that need to be considered and follow up costs related to injuries and chances in employment that can be long-lasting.
The only thing that seems to cut down on fatalities and injuries include helmet laws that restrict drivers from driving without a helmet. This can reduce the rate of death by about 39 percent. Helmets were believed to save 1550 motorcyclists’ lives in 2010. Only 19 states have universal helmet laws and another twenty eight states have partial laws, requiring helmets in people aged 21 or younger, or sometimes 18 and under. Three states have no helmet laws whatsoever. Some states are repealing their helmet laws and changing them to partial helmet laws due to motorcyclists not wanting to wear helmets.
Many motorcycle groups agree with the use of helmets but feel it infringes on personal liberty to mandate the use of helmets. They feel the rider has a right to decide whether or not to wear a helmet. They feel that education of motorcyclists to look out for motorcycles and teaching the drivers to drive more carefully is a better solution for making sure drivers of motorcyclists are safe.
One study looked at motorcycle fatalities in the US, which are increasing. It looked at the number of fatalities between 2003 and 2008 in the state of Indiana. Over six years, there were 18,000 motorcycle accidents and 601 fatalities. There were several reasons why the motorcycles who died suffered the injuries that they did. The major reasons behind the fatalities were the objects of impact, high speed and doing risky behaviors. Hitting poles, sign posts, bridge guardrails, trees and other motor vehicles were associated with the highest risk of death. There were various types of risky behaviors that were associated with death due to motorcycle crashes.