Of the more than 8 million motorcycles being ridden in 2013, statistics indicate that, per mile, those riding motorcycles were approximately 26 times more likely to have a fatal accident that those in automobiles. Their rate of injury was also five times higher than their counterparts in four-wheelers.
But despite those sobering stats from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the same year, motorcycle deaths actually declined. The fatality rate dropped over 6 percent to 4,668 from 2012, when the total deaths were 4,986.
The injury rate also declined during 2013, down to 5.3 percent, with 88,000 injuries compared to the 93,000 in 2012.
However, that is still quite high, when you consider that out of every 100,000 registered motorcycles in the United States, there were 56 fatal collisions in 2013. Compared to automobiles, only nine out of 100,000 were involved in a fatal accident.
But it is not likely that those figures will dissuade true aficionados from climbing astride their cycles and riding off into the sunset.
Those upwards of 40 seemed to fare the worst, as during the nine years between 2004 and 2013, the death rate actually rose by 39 percent, in comparison to the overall rate of 16 percent. In fact, data supplied by the NHTSA shows that in 2013, 55 percent of those killed in wrecks on motorcycles were 40 or older.
Part of the reason for the higher fatality rate in older riders is their tendency to suffer more critical injuries than younger motorcyclists. Studies done at Brown University attribute this to slower reaction times, age-related visual changes and the physical fragility that comes with aging. Older riders also tend to favor larger bikes that often tip over and injure the riders.
Those 60 and older were at 2.5 times the risk of suffering serious injuries than the youngest riders. The older groups had more dislocations, broken bones and traumatic brain injuries as well.
Alcohol played a big role in fatal crashes, to no one's surprise. An impaired driver of an automobile at least has an armor of metal surrounding him, whereas a biker has nothing but leathers and hopefully a helmet.
The biggest risk of all is the other drivers, however. Those struck by cars while riding may have to pursue legal action in order to get compensation.
Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Motorcycle Crashes," accessed June 12, 2015