Here Are The Most Common Motorcycle Accidents & Causes

Jun 11, 2024


broken motorcycle on the road accident site Here Are The Most Common Motorcycle Accidents & Causes

Riding your motorcycle brings a sense of freedom, yet it comes with significant risks. It's important for all riders to be aware of the common types of motorcycle accidents and their causes. By understanding these, motorcyclists can better protect themselves and ride more safely. And remember, whether you’re riding locally, traveling, or renting a motorcycle, these all still apply. 

What’s the Main Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

The most common cause of motorcycle accidents, particularly in multi-vehicle scenarios, is collisions caused by cars making left-hand turns. These accidents often occur when a car turns left at an intersection and either fails to see an oncoming motorcycle or misjudges its speed, leading to a collision​. 

List of Common Motorcycle Accidents:

  • Left-Turning Cars: The most perilous situation for motorcyclists, occurring in 42% of all accidents. These collisions typically happen when a car making a left turn at an intersection hits a motorcycle that is either going straight, passing, or overtaking the car.
  • Lane-Switching Accidents: Common on multi-lane roads when a car fails to see a motorcycle in its blind spot or does not pay adequate attention, leading to a collision.
  • Head-On Collisions: Responsible for 56% of motorcycle accident fatalities. Most often, these occur when a car strikes a motorcycle head-on, typically at high speeds, leading to severe outcomes for the motorcyclist.
  • Motorcycle Lane Splitting Accidents: Occur due to the close proximity of cars and motorcycles and limited maneuvering space. These accidents often happen in slow or stopped traffic, where cars are not expecting any vehicle to pass.
  • Accidents Caused by Intoxication: In solo motorcycle crashes, 43% involve alcohol. Social biking activities that include stops at bars or hangouts contribute to this high rate.
  • Corner-Turning Accidents: When motorcyclists encounter unexpected patches of sand, gravel, leaves, or water while cornering, causing the front tire to lose traction and potentially leading to a crash.
  • High-Speed Motorcycle Accidents: Though high-performance motorcycles make up a smaller fraction of the total on the road, they are frequently involved in high-speed accidents due to their capabilities and the tempting nature of speed.

motorcycle accident close up view broken parts laying on ashpalt Here Are The Most Common Motorcycle Accidents & Causes

Common Causes of Single-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes

  • Loss of Control: This is perhaps the most common cause of single motorcycle crashes. It can happen due to excessive speed, overbraking, or not handling curves properly.
  • Road Conditions: Slippery roads from rain, oil, or debris, as well as potholes and uneven surfaces, can cause a rider to lose control.
  • Rider Error: This includes errors such as misjudging corners, braking too hard causing the bike to skid, or not being attentive to the road.
  • Speeding: Traveling too fast for the road conditions or the rider’s skill level can lead to crashes, especially on curves where the bike might skid out or the rider fails to navigate the turn.
  • Alcohol and Drug Use: Impairment due to alcohol or drugs significantly affects a rider's judgment, balance, coordination, and reaction time.
  • Mechanical Failures: Issues like brake failure, tire blowouts, or unexpected mechanical malfunctions can lead to accidents.
  • Inexperience: Lack of experience can lead to poor decision-making on the road, inadequate handling of the bike, and overestimation of one's riding abilities.
  • Wildlife and Obstacles: Encounters with animals crossing roads, or unexpected obstacles like fallen branches, can startle a rider or force them to swerve quickly, often leading to crashes.

deer crossing road in arcadia national park Here Are The Most Common Motorcycle Accidents & Causes

Motorcyclist Fatalities and Injuries

In 2021, there were 5,932 motorcyclist fatalities, marking an 8% increase from 2020. Additionally, approximately 82,686 motorcyclists were injured, which is a 5% increase from the previous year.

Alcohol Impairment

A significant portion of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were found to be alcohol-impaired. Specifically, 28% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had alcohol levels above the legal limit, compared to lower percentages in other vehicle types.

Helmet Use and Effectiveness

Helmet use varies significantly across states, influenced by state laws. In states with universal helmet laws, only 9% of motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets, compared to 55% in states without such laws. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatalities among motorcycle riders.


Thirty-six percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were operating without a valid motorcycle license, which is notably higher compared to drivers of passenger vehicles.

Crash Characteristics and Risk Factors

The report discusses various characteristics and risk factors associated with motorcycle crashes including the role of engine size, speeding, and time of day. For example, speeding was a factor in 33% of fatal motorcycle crashes.

SOURCE: NHSTA Traffic Safety Facts, 2021

Motorcycle Accident Statistics in 2024 from Riders Share

We released our claims statistics, highlighting key insights for safer riding:

  • Age and Experience: Risk decreases with age; riders under 25 have the highest accident rate at 18.31 per 100,000 miles, while those over 65 have the lowest at 4.93.
  • Motorcycle Make and Type: Kawasaki has the highest claims rate at 14.42, while Indian has the lowest at 5.89. Scooters and sports bikes face higher risks in urban areas, and touring bikes the lowest at 4.35.
  • Improvements Over Time: Claims reduced from 11.86 in 2019 to 6.84 in 2023, indicating better safety measures.
  • Engine Displacement: Larger bikes (>1850 cc) have fewer accidents at a rate of 4.85, suggesting more experienced riders.
  • Local vs. Traveler: Local riders have a higher claims rate of 12.62 compared to travelers at 7.45.
  • Riding Experience: Accidents are highest among those with under 5 years of riding experience at 16.66, and decrease with more experience.

These statistics underline the importance of experience and cautious riding practices.

View more information statistics from Riders Share on motorcycle accidents HERE

Keep the Rubber Side Down, Keep Both Wheels on the Ground.

Motorcycle safety is a serious concern that demands attention from every rider. With more riders getting their license and motorcycle fatalities rising, familiarizing ourselves with the causes of accidents and adhering to safety practices, we can help reduce risks. Remember, responsible riding is not just about protecting yourself; it also contributes to the safety of everyone on the road. Stay informed, stay alert, and always prioritize safety.