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Motorcycle Crash-Related Data

Chart: Chart: Nonfatal Motorcyclist Injuries by Primary Body Part Injured, 2001-2008. Head/Neck 21.7%; Upper Trunk 19.5%; Lower Trunk 7.8%; Arm/Hand 17.8%; Leg/Foot 30.3%, Other/Unknown 3.0%.In 2008, motor vehicle crash-related deaths involving cars and light trucks reached an all-time low in the United States. At the same time, however, motorcyclist deaths reached an all-time high, more than doubling between 1999 and 2008.

A recent CDC study found that:

  • Between 2001 and 2008, more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed and an estimated 1,222,000 persons were treated in a U.S. emergency department (ED) for a non-fatal motorcycle-related injury.
  • The highest death and injury rates were among 20-24 year-olds, followed by 25-29 year-olds.
  • More than half of all nonfatal injuries treated in EDs were to the leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (22%).
  • Motorcyclist death rates increased 55% from 2001 to 2008 (1.12 per 100,000 persons in 2001 to 1.74 per 100,000 persons in 2008).
  • The number of nonfatal motorcyclist injuries that were treated in EDs also increased, from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008.

With more people in the United States riding motorcycles today than ever before, motorcyclist deaths and injuries are an important public health concern.

Chart: Fatal and Nonfatal Motorcyclist Injury Rates by Age Group, Fatality Analysis Reporting System and National Electronic Injury Surveillance System- All Injury Program, 2008

How Helmets and Helmet Laws Can Help

Helmets save motorcycle riders' lives.

The most effective way to get people to wear helmets is by passing and enforcing a universal helmet law. This type of law requires all motorcycle riders and passengers of all ages to wear helmets whenever they ride.

Each state decides its respective helmet law. As of May 2012, 19 states and the District of Columbia had universal helmet laws, 28 states had a partial helmet law, and 3 states had no helmet law.

Safety Tips for Riders

When you ride your motorcycle, follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Never ride your motorcycle after drinking. Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
  • Don't let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away.
  • Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection. Upper body clothing should also include bright colors or reflective materials, so that other motorists can more easily see you.
  • Avoid tailgating.
  • Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.

chart: Fatal and Nonfatal Motorcyclist Injury Rates by Year, Fatality Analysis Reporting System and National Electronic Injury Surveillance System- All Injury Program, 2001-2008

More Information

  • Page last reviewed: June 14, 2012
  • Page last updated: June 14, 2012
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