Motorcycle Crashes

Motorbike AccidentWhat are the three best ways to crash and kill yourself on a motorcycle? Bear in mind that motorcyclists just you like you and I get killed every day. Some crash and die instantly and some endure severe, painful trauma before succumbing to their injuries.

A variety of factors can influence motorcycle crashes, including being inexperienced with one’s bike, insufficient riding skills, being fatigued, cold, hot, hungry, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But for those among us who want to die on a motorcycle in a more statistically popular fashion, here are three factors to consider:

1) Drink alcohol and go for a ride. 43% of riders killed in single-vehicle crashes were legally drunk. It’s kind of hard to blame anyone other than the rider in a single-vehicle crash.

2) The second is related. Motorcycle riders killed in night-time crashes are three times more likely to be drunk than those killed in day-time crashes. Alternatively, I guess you could say that if you don’t want to be three times more likely to get killed while drinking and riding, you’re better off maintaining the practice while the sun is shining.

3) More than 80% of all motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist. That’s probably not news to most riders. Personally, I’m surprised that there are 20% of riders who walk away from motorcycle crashes without an injury as a souvenir. Regardless, and more to the point, “head injury” is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Riders who don’t wear helmets and who experience a crash are 40% more likely to sustain a fatal head injury. OK, so you can reduce your chances of getting killed with a helmet, but you cannot eliminate it. Plenty of riders get killed while wearing helmets, too. Many crashes are so severe that getting killed was unavoidable. Having said that, or as the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, “No other piece of safety equipment can make as big a difference as the motorcycle helmet.” (By the way, is the source of the statistics in this article).

Numbers can be boring. But keep in mind that these numbers represent real riders, just like you and I. And if you think these numbers are still too abstract, just do an online news search for motorcycle fatalities right now and see who got killed in a motorcycle crash today.

Anyway, wishing you safe riding.

89 thoughts on “Motorcycle Crashes

  • So, Terry, when you say, “I am willing to bet that oblivious, reckless car drivers are way up there in the cause of motorcycle fatalities”………as with all statistical evidence, analysis and “postulations”……you have to be specific: are you talking about car drivers who are BOTH oblivious AND reckless…….or just ONE or the OTHER?

    Trying to determine cause and effect in bike crashes is a VERY inexact “science”. For example, take two different riders and place them in the exact same set of circumstances that MIGHT lead to a crash………ONE comes out unscathed…….the other comes out a fatality. In both cases, let’s say, it was a CAR driver who “caused the situation”……..but it was the rider who LIVED who was able to “un-cause” it.

    This speaks to one of MY long-held, personal theories about the relative danger of bike riding, and that is: SOME PEOPLE SHOULD JUST NOT RIDE……..IT’S NOT IN THEIR “GENETIC SAFETY ZONE”.

    We’ve all seen these people; they just NEVER look totally confident or in command of their equipment. Same with many car drivers. Shit happens……but to be a good driver, you need to have the ability to PREVENT shit from happening…or at least minimize it when it does!

  • Inebriated video crashed and burned and is unrecoverable. Somewhat of a transcript is posted above.

  • This is the third time I’ve gotten an email inviting me to watch a video and there’s no video. I’ve read some good articles on this sight but apparently it’s not maintained very well

  • Apparently nobody else is able to view the video either. I know I can’t. I’m not sure the guy who posted it even reads these notes.

  • Wish someone would take note of all the people who are unable to view this and in my case every other video that you send out. Have not had one of them play yet. Never get a reply either or any other type of confirmation that anything is being done to remedy the problem.

  • Video won’t load. It’d be nice for someone to rectify this issue.

  • Sounds like interesting subjects but none of the videos you have sent links to are loading

  • Video is not loading. Anyhow, quite a few bikers have lost their lives this summer in the Buffalo area for: FAILURE TO NEGOTIATE A CURVE. What does THAT tell you?

  • way to many bikers riding as if they want to die… extreme speeds in city streets, and city traffic I enjoy going fast but on the open road away from city traffic, but I see bikers wanting to prove something to someone about just how stupid fast they can go from one street light to the next.(whats their reasoning) with cars all around them….. Please enjoy, Be safe and go like hell(Safely) Keep them on the road.

  • I agree with Vern. There are many new bikers in South Africa. Could you please post a list of what NEVER to do on a bike that will cause you to fall or loose control.

  • hey drinking and riding means lots of used parts and cheap buys to repair.. do not knock it ..the guys dead or frozen for life = wife wants the $ for the party time ..while hubby is home with tubes and bags sticking out of him or just plain brain dead from the non DOT head rag … thats when you get the gret deals cash ..she hated the loud thing anyway..and what about donar body parts its bottoms up here’s to you mr. dunking weaving falling over bag ass ”biker ”dude … ya missed the worm ..

  • Vern Kehoss says “In the biker community a big thing is trying to be a cool dude or bad biker. This leads to a lot of drinking and riding.”

    Whose biker community would that be, Vern? (Cool first name, by the way.) I have been riding motorcycles since 1965 and have never ridden a bike after drinking…not once. Idiots might believe they can handle a bike after spending time at the local watering hole, but that makes them neither cool nor “bad”, it simply reinforces how ignorant they are.

  • In the biker community a big thing is trying to be a cool dude or bad biker. This leads to a lot of drinking and riding . A sure recipe for disaster. I know i went through the growing up scene. But a large amount of the accidents are cager drivers not paying attention,esp.with the cell phone introduction..Watch out,be attentive.!!! Lost nine fellow riders in 48 yrs. of riding. Nuff said!!!

  • All across Europe new laws have come in to force regarding training for riders. There’s little doubt that it will save lives, after all an educated rider will can choose to ride in a particular fashion where as one that hasn’t been educated hasn’t got as many options.
    But there is resistance from those who believe that motorcycles will be legislated out of existence and there are merits for their views – with the EU planning a host of other reforms.

  • Can I get permission to re post in our club web site, i tried to copy and past. did not work.

  • I live in South Africa recently bought a bike and enjoying it, I really appreciate these emails as I am learning a lot from them. What I have observed in South Africa motorists this side doesn’t care about bikers and that upsets me.

  • MCG, I know you did the video to inform people of potential causes of M/C rider fatalities but seriously, three reasons and two of them are alcohol? Stupid people will drink then drive (cagers and bikers alike). Your video will not change anyone’s attitude. If you want to do PSA-type safety videos, put some more creativity and thought into them. Tell riders (especially new or less experienced riders) safety tips that they may not be aware of. Example: Don’t use your front brake to slow down quickly when your front wheel is turned.

  • Scott Russell, instructor at the Yahama Champions Riding School relates the following.
    “The four reasons we crash represent the most common bad habits: not paying attention to what is going on around us: ham-fisted stabbing, grabbing, and flicking the controls or handle bar: trying to make up time in the wrong place: and doing the same foolish things over and over again.” Your are master of your own destiny, live to ride as long as possible, make riding a mind game.

  • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink! The same applies where the legislation is applied. I’m afraid that you will not be very successful in legislating good sense to an idiot. Some. People just refuse to listen or learn from others whom have more experience. IMHO

  • Thanks for the reminder, I was just about to put my leathers and helmet on and go for a putt – it’s a nice day here in Taos NM. Always appreciate the informative emails and videos!

  • Vern Congress is legislating stupidity every day. That being said safety can not be legislated.

  • I’ve ridden since 1958, had close calls almost every year.To many inattenative car jerks.And now the cell phone thing adds to complete spaced out drivers. Yes i’ve lost a few freinds due to alcohol.,, and it’s their mistake.I think a big part of the current fatality’s is the sport bikes, namely 600 cc are quiker than our 1000cc were ten yrs ago and by young guys callenging each other , namely longer wheelies, nosey’s or front brake stand ups. Iguess we all have to learn by ourselves,our mistakes. They can’t legistate stupidity…

  • Thank you to the responder who pointed out that these statistics make no sense; the 45% without/55% with factor. I understand that a helmet is a safety item, but it doesn’t help our cause to spew out statistics that indicate ignorance. I have only been signed up for this newsletter for a short time and I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I am disappointed with the inflammatory information in this video.

  • The sad truth is that educated and dedicated individuals can impart their wisdom to other riders, but is is the responsibility of the rider to use it.

  • I’ve had my bike license since 1976, aged 21. Had car license from 17. I live in South Australia. Back then it was just apply to have a bike license added to my car license. Put L plate on rear or bike and go teach your self and learn from your mistakes. I made a few but nothing painful.
    These days they want you to know it all before you get on the road. But even with all the rider safe courses that we now there is still an increase in bike accidents resulting in injury or death.
    But like vane says “Statistics is a powerful tool, but used by unskilled people just wishing to impress, it’s a crap”

    But so called professional safety experts do it as well.

    e.g. Get a front page headline in the paper “25 more people died on bikes this year than last year” Sounds bad, yes it is, one person is to many but it’s used to bring in stricter laws. What they won’t look at is the overall percentage.
    E.g. Last year their was 1000 bikes on the road. 100 people died. (terrible) 10 percent
    This year 1500 bikes on the road and 125 deaths. 8 percent or 2 percent decrease.

    Theirs lots of ways you can play with numbers, that’s just one.

    We have an add campaign on TV at the moment telling us that the worst place to be on a bike is in an intersection. Somewhat true, but I would have thought danger to limb and life would come from just about anywhere on any road where there is more than just you on the road.

    As far as I’m concerned there’s only one person responsible for my safety and that’s me.

  • Good website and interesting reading/listening/videos. But, PLEASE learn the difference between “me” and “I” in sentence construction. It hurts my ears to hear them used incorrectly.

  • I run the only school for advanced motorcycle training in Ontario Canada its based on the UK police system of motorcycle control. I really support MCG in what he is doing training and awareness saves lives. I use statistic’s and many other tools in my course and will use anything that gets the message across. All bikers need more training than they receive from the government that issues a licence to them. In Europe this is nothing new and advanced training is common place. Here its almost unheard of. If you want to further your skills check out my website or email me I’ll give you a rider assessment for free I am taking bookings for next year so don’t wait too long . All types of bikes and riders welcome maximum of 5 per class. hope to see you soon ride safe Mick

  • I have been riding since I was 15..I am now 66, still riding and never had a serious accident. Also, I”ve learned a heck of a lot in my riding career. !!!!

    Firstly…the statistics, Bikes have steadly been getting faster and more powerful. If something happens in front of you at high speed it gets mighty hard to stop or avoid the hazard.
    Now…a bit more on how to kill yourself real fast on a motorcycle…..daydream whilst riding and admire the scenery and please…don”t stop if you start yawning…guaranteed to work.
    Just think that someone has to pick up the pieces of your body….I”ve been there. Not nice.

    Be safe and use commonsense. You have people who love you..don”t hurt them as well….

  • I agree with your conclusions but you picked the wrong graphics. If you read the pie charts all that says is the percentage of motorcycle deaths vs. total deaths is rising. This may or may not be because a greater percentage of motorcycle riders are dying… but I doubt it. More likely is that cars and trucks are getting safer so there are fewer deaths in that group causing the motorcycle fraction to rise.

    I have heard that the increase of new riders due to rising fuel costs has also skewed the accident rate upwards.

    All that said, I agree 100% with your suggestions and the alcohol and lack of protective gear problem.

    Earlier this year I had my first accident, an oblivious driver turned left directly in front of me causing me to lay the bike down to avoid a collision. As always I had my Neon Yellow armored jacket, gloves, full helmet, leather armored pants, heavy boots and additional armored vest on. I got out of this one with only a broken rib… no cuts bruises or funeral.

    I am willing to bet that oblivious, reckless car drivers are way up there in the cause of motorcycle fatalities, maybe not the top three but I would be shocked if they weren’t in the top ten!

  • After riding for 38 yrs , my girlfriend and I established a Bikers Emergency Servives ICE here in South Africa, we have over 70,000 registered bikers in this country.

    The increase in accidents is amazing and mostly caused because of alcohol, high speed and in general riders with limited experience and very powerful bikes.

    At least 5 times a week I pick up fallen bikers on the highway I travel to work and back, what I have seen lately is a total lack of safety gear – no gloves, boots , trousers or even at times a jacket. riding at 260 to 300 kms will remove most skin on a body when hitting tar , split lane between congested traffic between 160 to 220 km yes that how we drive is just stupid.
    Anway to safe riding, a fallen brother and sister is always remembered , and its pointless

  • A recent article in MCN (medical motorcycling) pointed out why just one drink is dangerous. Even of you would blow under .08%, just one drink releases enough inhibitions that you would be inclined to take greater risks. I love a beer as much as anyone. But we just can’t drink any amount and ride. If you do, you are constantly entering the Darwin Awards competition.

  • Crashes , Ive had a few , but then again , too few to mention, Yes there were times , I’m sure you’d know , when I bit off more than I could chew, To think I did all that , I faced it all , the record shows I took the blows , And did it my way.
    ( thanks to Frank for the words)
    Just a lighthearted line on a serious subject

  • I believe in safety, wearing helamets, jackets, boots, gloves, etc. is being smart. but when unexpected have an accident due to machnicial failure, thats something that you cant avoid.
    See back in March of 2011, I had my first accident on my 2003 ultra classic. My front brakes suddenlly locked while running on the road, causing a serious accident.
    The insurance adjusters determined that is was my fault for appling the brakes, and for failing to repair them properly.
    Question here is why do I need insurance if its not going to cover for my accident.
    At the accident the bike landed on my leg, I ended up at the hospital, I had to use crouches, leg, and knee braces. for more then two months.
    I was haded to work which is about 17 miles away, the accident accurred about 3 miles from my work. No I did not have problems with my brakes, The witnesses where people in motor vehicles who almost hit my from behind due to my unexpected accident., and police officer. The person who had stopped to render aid, and police officer, where the ones who had picked up the bike trying to move of the road, when they noticed the bike wouldn’t move, even after being in neutral. The brake fluid had to be released, and bleed in order for them to move the bike off the road.
    I was taken to the hospital, in severe pain. I found out after doing some research, that the Harley front braking does lock up on many occations with out notice and unexplainable.
    I still looking to file a suit againts Harley Davidson and Gieco Insurance Co.
    Just for anyones information, I have being riding motorcycles for 35 years and never had a motorcycle accident on the road and I had never dropped my bike or anyother bike. See I grew up riding moto-cross bikes, which give me a great deal of experience. I respect riders who repect their motorcycles, and others.
    If you any question or concerns, you can contact my me for further information at

  • Statistics is a powerful tool, but used by unskilled people just wishing to impress, it’s a crap.
    What shall we understand: 45% were not wearing helmets while 55% had the helmet ON. You have better chances without one, right ? 🙂

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