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Motorcycle Safety Guide: Summary of Motorcycle Safety Efforts

Motorcycle safety measures include motorcycle operator licensing and training, traffic laws and enforcement, and educational programs and campaigns. Considerable emphasis is placed on educating both motorcycle riders and car drivers that share the road with motorcyclists about safe driving. Additionally, education and outreach efforts often focus on alcohol. However, there is no consistent evidence that any of these measures reduce the number of motorcycle crashes or deaths.

How Effective Are the Measures?

This table displays the effectiveness of nine motorcycle safety measures.

[ View text version of the table ]

Unknown: Limited or no high-quality evidence.
Likely: Likely to be effective based on balance of evidence from high-quality evaluations.
Effective in Certain Situations: Demonstrated to be effective in certain situations.
Scientifically Proven: Demonstrated to be effective in several scientific evaluations with consistent results.

Adapted from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Countermeasures That Work, 20115

A few recent studies have shown that mechanical improvements such as antilock brakes can reduce the severity of crashes, and this may affect injuries and deaths.5, 21 Other motorcycle safety efforts include improving road conditions, reducing cultural support for rider-group alcohol use, and improving clothing and motorcycle visibility through bright or reflective colors. But again, no consistent evidence shows that any of these measures reduce the number of motorcycle crashes or deaths.5

Some traffic departments have reported successes in using cues to identify alcohol-impaired riders, however evaluation data is lacking, and while specific evaluation data on the effects of enforcement and sanctions on impaired motorcycle crashes is also lacking, enforcement strategies (e.g., sobriety checkpoints) exist, which have proven effective for reducing impaired driving and crashes generally.5

The only safety measure that costs little to initiate and reaches all riders is a state universal motorcycle helmet law. It is also the only measure proven to improve motorcycle safety.5


References are located on the Endnotes page.

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