What Are the Safest States for Motorcycle Riding?

Dec 9, 2023

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Two people on motorcycles riding on a scenic road through the wilderness on a sunny day

Although safety is always key to avoiding accidents or mishaps while riding a motorcycle, certain states are better than others for motorcycle riders. According to recent statistics and the qualities that constitute “safe states,” Minnesota, California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Arizona, and Colorado are some of the safest states to ride motorcycles. 

It’s essential to remember that much of the current online information determines the safest states to ride in based on the number of accidents in those given states. However, it’s necessary to consider other factors, such as weather, riding season, motorcycle laws, and the number of registered motorcycles. If you’re obeying traffic laws, riding safely, and wearing proper gear, the most important factor in safe riding is your brain. Being conscious of your surroundings and acting smart is key to maintaining safety. 

The top 8 causes of motorcycle accidents in the United States are:

  1. Alcohol and drug impairment
  2. Distracted driving
  3. Reckless driving
  4. Speeding
  5. Road rage
  6. Poor or impaired visibility
  7. Drowsy or sleepy
  8. Improper lane use, including lane splitting

Driving safely and legally is necessary to avoid the likelihood of getting into a motorcycle accident. 

What makes a state safe and great for riding?

While certain variables weigh heavier than others, the level at which a state is safe for riding a motorcycle depends on these factors. 

  • Well-maintained roads
  • Tourism & traffic density
  • Traffic laws & enforcement: 
  • Helmet/Gear laws
  • Licensing requirements
  • Attitude towards motorcyclists
  • Climate & weather conditions
  • Geographical layout
  • Motorcycle infrastructure (lanes, parking, road design)
  • Emergency response
  • Community & culture
  • Statistics on motorcycle accidents

Colorado

Riding on a well maintained road in Colorado going through the mountains

Colorado's well-maintained roads significantly improve motorcycle safety, especially in urban and scenic areas. The state's traffic laws are well-enforced, and while it lacks mandatory helmet laws for adults, there's a strong culture of safety among its motorcycling community. 

Colorado's diverse climate and geographical layout offer exhilarating but safe riding experiences, complemented by adequate motorcycle infrastructure. The state's emergency response system is expansive, and the motorcycling community is active and supportive, fostering a safe environment for riders. These factors and relatively low motorcycle accident statistics make Colorado one of the safer states for motorcyclists.

  • Roads: Colorado's roads are generally well-maintained, especially the highways and popular scenic routes. However, roads can be challenging in mountainous areas, with steep inclines and sharp turns.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 6.3

Arizona

Beautiful sunset view while riding on well maintained road in Arizona

Arizona's good road conditions and relatively low traffic density, especially in rural and desert areas, make for safe motorcycling conditions. The state's enforcement of traffic laws and a warm, dry climate create ideal riding conditions for most of the year. Although Arizona's helmet laws are less stringent, the motorcycling community promotes safety. The state's geographical layout provides long, open stretches perfect for motorcycling, and the community and culture welcome riders. All of these factors together make Arizona a safe state to ride in. 

  • Roads: Arizona's roads are known for being in good condition, particularly in urban areas. The state's desert landscapes offer long, open stretches of road.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 6.5

North Dakota

Riding on a beautiful sunny day on a straight well maintained road in North Dakota

North Dakota's road network, characterized by long, straight stretches and minimal congestion, provides an ideal environment for motorcyclists seeking a relaxed and safe riding experience. The state's traffic laws are effectively enforced, improving road safety. While helmet and gear laws are more relaxed, the riding community consciously prioritizes safety. The licensing requirements ensure that riders are adequately trained. North Dakota's flat geographical layout and clear, open roads enhance rider safety. In 2021, 62.5% of ND’s motorcycle fatalities were due to not wearing a helmet, so it’s essential always to wear your gear. 

The state's extreme seasonal variations, with pleasant summers and harsh winters, shape the motorcycling calendar. Motorcycle infrastructure is functional, supporting rider needs. Emergency response systems are robust, and the state's motorcycle community, though not as large as some other states, is close-knit and promotes a safety culture. The relatively low statistics on motorcycle accidents in North Dakota reflect the safe riding environment fostered by these combined factors.

  • Roads: The roads in North Dakota are generally straight and flat, suitable for long-distance riding. Conditions are good in urban areas but can be less maintained in rural areas.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 1.1

New Hampshire

Riding through the back roads of New Hampshire on a sunny fall day with fall colors

With its scenic routes and excellent roads, New Hampshire provides a safe riding environment for motorcyclists. The state's relaxed traffic density and efficient emergency response further enhance safety. New Hampshire’s lack of helmet laws is offset by its responsible riding culture and supportive motorcycle community. The varied climate and beautiful geographical layout contribute to a pleasant riding experience, and the state's commitment to enforcing traffic laws adds to its safety credentials for motorcyclists.

  • Roads: New Hampshire offers well-maintained highways with scenic routes, especially in the White Mountains region. Rural roads may vary in condition.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 2.6

Vermont

Riding through the mountains on a well maintained road through Vermont

Vermont is a safe state for motorcycle riding due to its well-maintained roads, low traffic density, and supportive attitude towards motorcyclists. The state's geographical layout offers enjoyable and safe routes for riders. The motorcycle infrastructure in Vermont is good, and the community and culture welcome motorcyclists. Despite variable climate conditions, the state boasts a low number of motorcycle accidents and a good overall safety record.

  • Roads: Vermont's road network includes scenic byways popular among motorcyclists. Road conditions are generally good but can be tricky in rural and mountainous areas.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 6.6

Utah

Riding on a scenic route through an arch in a Utah National Park

Utah is a fantastic destination for motorcyclists, thanks to its diverse and picturesque roads and unique geographical layout. The state's traffic density is low, and its traffic laws are effective, which contribute to the safety of riders. Utah's climate is generally favorable for motorcycling, and the state's motorcycle infrastructure, including lanes and parking, is well-developed. Besides, the motorcycle community in Utah is thriving and promotes a safety culture, making it an even safer state for motorcyclists.

  • Roads: Utah's roads are known for their scenic beauty, mainly through national parks. The roads are generally in good condition.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 3.9

California

Riding through the Avenue of the Giants in California on a well maintain road on a sunny day in

California has a well-maintained network of roads and strict helmet and gear laws that contribute to the safety of motorcycle riders. Moreover, the state's diverse climate and geographical layout offer motorcyclists a variety of safe riding experiences. Although California's heavy traffic density is a concern, it is mitigated by the state's strong traffic law enforcement and well-developed motorcycle infrastructure. California has one of the most active and culturally rich motorcycle communities in the country, which contributes to creating a safe and supportive environment for riders.

  • Roads: California offers diverse road conditions, from well-maintained highways to scenic coastal and mountain routes. Traffic congestion in urban areas can be a challenge.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 5.8

Oregon

Riding on a beautiful well maintained scenic route on the historic Rowena Crest Road by Columbia Gorge Oregon

Oregon can be a haven for motorcyclists due to its effective traffic regulations. The state values the safety of riders and ensures that they have a pleasant experience with the variety in Oregon's climate and the beauty of its landscapes. The motorcycle-specific infrastructure in Oregon is thoughtfully designed, reflecting a genuine consideration for the needs of riders. Additionally, the warmth and inclusivity of the motorcycling community in the state are evident. With well-balanced traffic flow and reliable emergency services, riders can feel secure and experience a sense of camaraderie on the road.

  • Roads: Oregon's roads, which provide beautiful coastal and forested routes, are mostly well-maintained. However, some rural areas might have less ideal highways.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 6.0

Washington

Riding on a beautiful well maintained road through Washington

Washington stands out for its quality roads and strong helmet laws, which significantly enhance safety for motorcyclists. The state's varied climate and terrain mean that rides are safe and scenic. The motorcycle infrastructure is well-cared-for, showing a genuine commitment to riders. The community of motorcyclists in Washington is supportive, and with strict traffic law enforcement and efficient emergency services, the state makes for a reliably safe riding experience.

  • Roads: Washington offers a mix of urban and scenic routes with generally good road conditions. However, weather can affect road quality, especially in the rainy season.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 3.5

Minnesota

Riding on a scenic route through Minnesota on a well maintained road on a beautiful Autumn day

Minnesota's well-maintained roads and strict traffic law enforcement provide a secure environment for motorcyclists. The state's climate is mild, and its terrain is mostly flat, making for comfortable riding conditions. Minnesota's motorcycle infrastructure, including lanes and parking, is designed with riders in mind. The local motorcycle community is friendly and safety-conscious, which, along with the state's low motorcycle accident rates, adds to the overall sense of safety and community for riders.

  • Roads: Minnesota's highways are well-maintained, especially in urban and popular areas. Rural roads are also in good condition but can be affected by harsh winters.
  • Deaths per 10k motorcycles: 3.3

So, what makes these states actually safe?

It’s important to note that while these states are generally safe for motorcycle riding, it doesn’t mean that others aren’t as well. With the majority of motorcycle accidents related to unsafe riding, it can be challenging to determine why the state itself may be responsible for being safe or unsafe. It’s important to use this guide for information only. Driving in the city versus rural areas with the potential for tourism density also significantly contributes to the safety of any particular area. Additionally, states with large rural areas with lessened emergency response availability were considered. Where states may lack potential helmet laws, the culture of encouraging safety gear was also considered. 

Comparing the Safest States for Motorcycle Riding

While some states statistically rank higher in terms of motorcycle safety, it's important to recognize that every state presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for riders. This comparison aims to provide a balanced view of the listed states, highlighting both their strengths and areas where caution may be necessary.

Motorcycle Accident Rates:

  • Minnesota and North Dakota boast the lowest motorcycle accident rates per capita (3.3 and 1.1, respectively), setting the benchmark for safety.
  • California, Utah, and Colorado follow closely with relatively low accident rates, offering a secure riding environment.
  • Arizona, Washington, and Oregon experience moderately higher accident rates, requiring vigilance and awareness from riders.
  • New Hampshire and Vermont fall within the higher range of accident rates, suggesting the need for heightened caution and defensive riding skills.

Helmet Laws:

  • California, Minnesota, Utah, and Washington prioritize safety with universal helmet laws for all riders.
  • Colorado, Oregon, and Arizona take a partially protective approach, requiring helmets only for young riders.
  • North Dakota, New Hampshire, and Vermont leave the decision to wear a helmet to individual riders, placing greater responsibility on their safety awareness.

Motorcycle Infrastructure:

  • California, Minnesota, and Washington lead the way with extensive motorcycle infrastructure, including dedicated lanes, ample parking, and roadside amenities, enhancing rider comfort and safety.
  • Utah, Colorado, and Oregon offer a good balance of infrastructure, providing a comfortable riding experience with some areas requiring additional development.
  • Arizona, North Dakota, and New Hampshire have less developed infrastructure, especially in rural regions, demanding extra caution and awareness from riders.
  • Vermont's infrastructure varies depending on the location, with well-maintained roads and facilities in urban areas and limited options in rural areas, requiring careful planning and route selection.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Weather: States with extreme or unpredictable weather, such as snow, ice, or heavy rain, require additional precautions and adjustments in riding style.
  • Traffic density: High traffic volume can significantly increase accident risks. Riders should be extra cautious and defensive in such areas.
  • Emergency response times: Rural areas may have slower emergency response times, emphasizing the importance of preventative measures and responsible riding practices.

Remember, regardless of the state you choose, personal responsibility remains the cornerstone of safe motorcycle riding. By staying alert, obeying traffic laws, wearing appropriate gear, and adapting your riding style to specific conditions, you can maximize your safety and enjoy a fulfilling riding experience in any state.

Motorcycle Rentals Across the USA

Riders Share is a peer-to-peer motorcycle rental platform that offers thousands of bikes for rent across thousands of locations. Riders Share firmly encourages safe driving behavior to minimize the risk of accidents. We are part of a community of riders who stand by All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT), ensuring you always make smart decisions when on the road. If you’re interested in riding in any of the safest states listed above or anywhere else across the country, visit our rental page to find your dream bike. Stay safe and enjoy the open road. 

Conclusion

While these states offer a safe environment for riding, the responsibility ultimately lies with you. Always obey traffic laws, wear appropriate gear, and ride defensively. By prioritizing these practices, you can turn every ride into an unforgettable adventure, safe and sound.

So, gear up, fellow riders, and get ready to explore the wonders that await on the open road. Choose a state that resonates with your spirit, prioritize your safety, and experience the freedom and exhilaration that only a motorcycle can offer. Let the journey begin!

Disclaimer: Riders Share requires that all riders follow the legal requirements of the state in which you are renting. Regardless of state, we maintain a strict recommendation to wear proper gear while riding motorcycles you may not be as familiar with. We prohibit unsafe behavior, such as reckless or distracted riding. For more information on our Rider’s Terms, visit this page.