Fatality Facts 2017Motorcycles and ATVs

Overview

Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high performance capabilities. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they're more likely to be injured or killed. The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2016, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 28 times the number in cars. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2018. Traffic safety facts, 2016: motorcycles. Report no. DOT HS-812-492. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.

Because serious head injury is common among fatally injured motorcyclists, helmet use is important. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths Deutermann, W. 2004. Motorcycle helmet effectiveness revisited. Report no. DOT HS-809-715. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2008. Traffic safety facts, laws: motorcycle helmet use laws. Report no. DOT HS-810-887W. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation.Yet only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders.

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not designed for on-highway use, but in recent years 300 or more riders died in crashes on public roads annually.

The following facts are based on analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Posted December 2018.

Age and gender

In the late 1970s the proportion of fatally injured motorcyclists who were 50 and older started to increase, rising from 3 percent of all rider deaths in 1978 to 14 percent in 1997 and 36 percent in 2017. In contrast, 28 percent of the fatally injured motorcyclists in 2017 were younger than 30, compared with 80 percent in 1975.

Percentage of motorcyclist deaths by age, 1975-2017

Motorcyclist deaths by age, 1975-2017
Year ≤29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years ≥50 years Total*
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
1975 2,538 80 428 13 129 4 81 3 3,180 100
1976 2,631 80 429 13 143 4 101 3 3,306 100
1977 3,279 80 537 13 149 4 129 3 4,099 100
1978 3,639 80 613 13 185 4 130 3 4,574 100
1979 3,732 76 747 15 233 5 173 4 4,892 100
1980 3,756 73 918 18 278 5 182 4 5,138 100
1981 3,594 73 850 17 262 5 181 4 4,896 100
1982 3,210 72 808 18 253 6 167 4 4,449 100
1983 3,074 72 776 18 239 6 165 4 4,260 100
1984 3,285 71 833 18 275 6 195 4 4,602 100
1985 3,265 72 861 19 247 5 184 4 4,562 100
1986 3,218 70 913 20 268 6 156 3 4,566 100
1987 2,727 68 853 21 286 7 168 4 4,034 100
1988 2,426 66 774 21 290 8 170 5 3,661 100
1989 1,927 61 760 24 288 9 157 5 3,135 100
1990 1,961 60 816 25 277 9 188 6 3,243 100
1991 1,629 58 728 26 296 11 151 5 2,805 100
1992 1,299 54 652 27 280 12 164 7 2,395 100
1993 1,267 52 665 27 335 14 176 7 2,445 100
1994 1,168 50 607 26 346 15 195 8 2,317 100
1995 1,103 50 576 26 359 16 188 8 2,226 100
1996 965 45 555 26 420 19 221 10 2,161 100
1997 860 41 556 26 405 19 294 14 2,116 100
1998 921 40 612 27 475 21 285 12 2,294 100
1999 898 36 612 25 570 23 403 16 2,483 100
2000 1,006 35 706 24 677 23 501 17 2,895 100
2001 1,134 35 798 25 729 23 532 17 3,195 100
2002 1,042 32 780 24 769 24 674 21 3,267 100
2003 1,179 32 837 23 903 24 789 21 3,710 100
2004 1,297 32 875 22 971 24 883 22 4,026 100
2005 1,441 31 975 21 1,027 22 1,131 25 4,575 100
2006 1,524 32 1,000 21 1,107 23 1,178 24 4,810 100
2007 1,581 31 1,043 20 1,173 23 1,372 27 5,174 100
2008 1,620 31 989 19 1,178 22 1,518 29 5,307 100
2009 1,186 27 851 19 1,016 23 1,411 32 4,467 100
2010 1,171 26 814 18 996 22 1,535 34 4,517 100
2011 1,228 27 827 18 944 20 1,630 35 4,630 100
2012 1,290 26 913 18 990 20 1,792 36 4,986 100
2013 1,281 27 817 17 953 20 1,640 35 4,691 100
2014 1,344 29 769 17 798 17 1,682 37 4,594 100
2015 1,477 29 855 17 884 18 1,808 36 5,026 100
2016 1,508 28 963 18 905 17 1,955 37 5,337 100
2017 1,462 28 950 18 889 17 1,868 36 5,172 100

Ninety-one percent of motorcyclists killed in 2017 were males.

Motorcyclist deaths by age and gender, 2017
Age Male Female Total*
Number % Number % Number %
<16 11 79 3 21 14 100
16-19 170 92 15 8 185 100
20-24 572 95 33 5 605 100
25-29 613 93 45 7 658 100
30-34 474 92 39 8 513 100
35-39 403 92 34 8 437 100
40-44 378 89 48 11 426 100
45-49 412 89 51 11 463 100
50-54 427 86 69 14 496 100
55-59 494 92 42 8 537 100
60-69 547 90 58 10 605 100
≥70 222 97 8 3 230 100
Total* 4,724 91 446 9 5,172 100

Fifty-nine percent of the female motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2017 were passengers, and their deaths represented 92 percent of the passenger deaths. The vast majority of male motorcyclists who died were drivers.

Motorcyclist deaths by person type and gender, 2017
Person type Male Female
Number % Number %
Driver 4,701 100 182 41
Passenger 22 <1 262 59
Total* 4,724 100 446 100

Helmet use

In 2017, 61 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers were helmeted. Helmet use was lower, at 39 percent, for people killed as passengers on motorcycles.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcycle drivers and passengers, 2017
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 2,992 61 1,747 36 146 3 4,885 100
Passenger 110 39 161 57 13 4 284 100
Total* 3,104 60 1,908 37 160 3 5,172 100

In 2017, 89 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted in states with helmet laws that cover all riders, in contrast to only 31 percent in states with no helmet law. In states with helmet laws that cover only some riders, 42 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcyclists by helmet law status, 2017
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
No law 71 31 149 66 5 2 225 100
Partial law 1,206 42 1,605 56 79 2 2,890 100
Universal law 1,827 89 154 7 76 3 2,057 100
Total 3,104 60 1,908 37 160 3 5,172 100

Motorcycle type and engine size

Engine sizes of motorcycles whose drivers were killed in crashes have gone up dramatically. Among motorcycle drivers killed in 2017, 33 percent drove motorcycles with engine sizes larger than 1,400 cc, compared with 9 percent in 2000 and less than 1 percent in 1990.

Percentage of motorcycle driver deaths by motorcycle engine size, 1985-2017

Motorcycle driver deaths by motorcycle engine size, 1985-2017
Year 0-1,000 cc 1,001-1,400 cc >1,400 cc Total*
Number % Number % Number % Number
1985 2,682 67 614 15 0 0 4,021
1986 2,822 70 625 16 0 0 4,019
1987 2,515 70 602 17 0 0 3,590
1988 2,219 68 617 19 6 <1 3,281
1989 1,879 68 539 19 3 <1 2,780
1990 1,937 67 620 21 5 <1 2,895
1991 1,672 67 556 22 13 1 2,496
1992 1,389 64 522 24 8 <1 2,172
1993 1,371 62 586 26 11 <1 2,212
1994 1,244 59 540 26 15 1 2,092
1995 1,215 60 568 28 22 1 2,020
1996 1,135 58 552 28 38 2 1,962
1997 1,079 56 618 32 33 2 1,937
1998 1,169 56 650 31 46 2 2,089
1999 1,099 48 644 28 99 4 2,286
2000 1,371 52 779 29 234 9 2,651
2001 1,553 53 781 26 309 10 2,953
2002 1,506 50 737 24 482 16 3,031
2003 1,641 48 830 24 614 18 3,423
2004 1,797 48 813 22 724 20 3,711
2005 2,092 49 932 22 865 20 4,253
2006 2,200 49 862 19 1,018 23 4,492
2007 2,425 50 917 19 1,120 23 4,853
2008 2,360 47 877 18 1,245 25 4,970
2009 1,847 44 736 18 1,144 27 4,163
2010 1,772 42 731 17 1,182 28 4,207
2011 1,980 46 755 17 1,183 27 4,341
2012 2,027 44 791 17 1,316 28 4,652
2013 1,951 47 692 17 1,276 31 4,126
2014 1,888 47 679 17 1,290 32 4,035
2015 2,065 47 727 16 1,384 31 4,415
2016 2,131 46 765 16 1,548 33 4,653
2017 2,178 45 730 15 1,595 33 4,885

Among the motorcycles whose drivers were killed in 2017, 92 percent of touring bikes had engines larger than 1,400 cc, while virtually all supersport bikes had engines of sizes 1,000 cc or smaller.

Fatally injured motorcycle drivers by motorcycle type and engine size, 2017
0-1,000 cc 1,001-1,400 cc >1,400 cc Total *
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 419 27 430 27 720 46 1,570 100
Touring 0 0 74 8 848 92 922 100
Sport-touring 17 33 31 61 3 6 51 100
Sport/unclad sport 386 71 146 27 10 2 542 100
Supersport 1,073 98 14 1 0 0 1,090 100
Off-road 91 100 0 0 0 0 91 100
Other/unknown 195 32 35 6 14 2 619 100
Total 2,181 45 730 15 1,595 33 4,885 100

Among fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2017, 84 percent of cruiser or standard motorcycle drivers were 30 or older, as were 94 percent of touring bike drivers. In contrast, 56 percent of fatally injured supersport drivers in 2017 were younger than 30.

Fatally injured motorcycle drivers by age and motorcycle type, 2017
<30 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50+ years Total *
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 244 16 245 16 288 18 793 51 1,570 100
Touring 54 6 90 10 195 21 583 63 922 100
Sport-touring 7 14 9 18 7 14 28 55 51 100
Sport/unclad sport 263 49 134 25 86 16 58 11 542 100
Supersport 607 56 316 29 129 12 38 3 1,090 100
Off-road 56 62 20 22 11 12 4 4 91 100
Other/unknown 160 26 92 15 104 17 262 42 619 100
Total 1,391 28 906 19 820 17 1,766 36 4,885 100

At 83 percent, helmet use was highest among fatally injured drivers of sport-touring motorcycles in 2017, followed closely by sport/unclad sport at 82 percent and supersport at 81 percent. About half of fatally injured drivers of touring motorcycles and of cruisers or standard motorcycles were helmeted.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcycle drivers by motorcycle type, 2017
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 844 53 690 44 36 2 1,570 100
Touring 468 50 429 47 25 3 922 100
Sport-touring 42 83 8 16 1 2 51 100
Sport/unclad sport 444 82 82 15 16 2 542 100
Supersport 879 81 177 16 34 3 1,090 100
Off-road 22 24 67 74 2 2 91 100
Other 222 100 195 91 18 9 435 200
Unknown 71 39 99 54 14 8 184 100
Total 2,992 61 1,747 36 146 3 4,885 100

When and where they died

Fifty-eight percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2017 occurred during May-September. Fatalities peaked in July and were lowest in January.

Motorcyclist deaths by month, 2017
Month Deaths %
January 191 4
February 261 5
March 320 6
April 494 10
May 506 10
June 616 12
July 707 14
August 564 11
September 610 12
October 431 8
November 270 5
December 202 4
Total 5,172 100

Forty-eight percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2017 occurred on weekends, and those deaths were more likely to occur after 6 p.m. compared with weekdays.

Motorcyclist deaths by time of day, 2017
Weekend (6 p.m. Friday - 6 a.m. Monday) Other times Total
Number % Number %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 264 10 173 7 437
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 100 3 100 4 200
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 66 3 210 8 276
9 a.m. - noon 170 6 257 9 427
Noon - 3 p.m. 392 16 435 17 827
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 447 18 632 24 1,079
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 609 24 500 18 1,109
9 p.m. - midnight 434 18 344 13 778
Total* 2,492 100 2,680 100 5,172

Fifty-three percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2017 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. Deaths were more likely to occur in urban than rural areas (58 percent vs. 38 percent).

Motorcyclist deaths by location of crash, 2017
Road Type Urban Rural Total*
Number % Number % Number %
Interstates and freeways 494 10 121 2 615 12
Non-interstate major roads 1,801 35 925 18 2,726 53
Minor roads 727 14 939 18 1,666 32
Total* 3,025 58 1,986 38 5,172 100

Alcohol involvement

Twenty-eight percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2017 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent; in single-vehicle crashes this was 42 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with high BACs by crash type, 2017
Crash type Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 1,853 786 42 522 28
Multiple-vehicle 3,032 571 19 313 10
All crashes 4,885 1,357 28 835 17

Forty-nine percent of motorcycle drivers killed at night (9 p.m.-6 a.m.) in 2017 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with high BACs by time of day, 2017
Time of day Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
Nighttime (9 p.m. - 6 a.m.) 1,338 661 49 423 32
Other times 3,547 696 20 412 12
Total 4,885 1,357 28 835 17

ATVs

Deaths of ATV riders on public roads have increased nearly ninefold since 1982, the first year they were explicitly identified in FARS. The proportion of fatally injured ATV riders who were 40 and older increased from 9 percent in 1982 to 41 percent in 2017. The proportion younger than age 20 decreased from 54 percent in 1982 to 22 percent in 2017.

Deaths of ATV rider on public roads by age, 1982-2017
Year <13 years 13-19 years 20-29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50+ years Total*
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
1982 6 17 13 37 7 20 6 17 0 0 3 9 35 100
1983 2 5 18 43 12 29 5 12 2 5 3 7 42 100
1984 4 9 17 36 14 30 6 13 5 11 1 2 47 100
1985 9 20 20 43 12 26 1 2 1 2 3 7 46 100
1986 11 18 20 33 21 34 6 10 1 2 2 3 61 100
1987 12 16 18 24 23 31 10 14 6 8 5 7 74 100
1988 14 18 26 34 21 27 7 9 5 6 4 5 77 100
1989 13 14 39 41 21 22 10 11 6 6 6 6 95 100
1990 12 10 44 36 37 31 13 11 8 7 7 6 121 100
1991 10 8 34 29 42 36 18 15 6 5 8 7 118 100
1992 8 7 44 37 39 33 12 10 4 3 12 10 119 100
1993 11 11 42 41 23 23 20 20 2 2 4 4 102 100
1994 10 9 42 37 31 27 12 11 8 7 10 9 113 100
1995 9 9 34 33 32 31 12 12 4 4 11 11 102 100
1996 16 11 44 30 43 29 23 16 6 4 16 11 148 100
1997 10 8 47 36 33 25 18 14 5 4 17 13 130 100
1998 17 12 55 37 29 20 23 16 12 8 11 7 147 100
1999 13 8 60 35 46 27 26 15 11 6 17 10 173 100
2000 12 6 73 34 63 30 30 14 18 8 17 8 213 100
2001 19 8 69 31 51 23 46 21 19 8 20 9 224 100
2002 21 8 69 28 69 28 39 16 21 8 31 12 250 100
2003 22 7 83 28 73 24 49 16 43 14 31 10 301 100
2004 22 7 99 29 101 30 39 12 33 10 43 13 337 100
2005 29 9 87 26 89 26 46 14 40 12 46 14 337 100
2006 16 4 95 26 102 28 61 17 41 11 47 13 362 100
2007 17 5 79 21 116 32 60 16 60 16 36 10 368 100
2008 24 6 83 22 98 26 65 17 46 12 61 16 377 100
2009 16 5 70 21 81 24 54 16 61 18 53 16 335 100
2010 16 5 51 16 66 21 47 15 56 18 80 25 316 100
2011 10 3 47 15 74 24 54 18 54 18 66 22 305 100
2012 15 5 40 13 79 26 56 18 53 17 61 20 304 100
2013 14 4 48 15 73 23 61 19 48 15 76 24 320 100
2014 18 6 37 11 81 25 64 20 46 14 79 24 325 100
2015 19 6 42 13 73 22 53 16 50 15 97 29 334 100
2016 15 4 51 14 81 23 60 17 49 14 98 28 354 100
2017 14 5 51 17 69 23 43 14 36 12 87 29 300 100

Nine percent of fatally injured ATV riders wore helmets in 2017.

Helmet use among fatally injured ATV riders on public roads, 2017
No helmet Helmet Other/unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 218 83 25 10 19 7 262 100
Passenger 26 84 1 3 4 13 31 100
Unknown 5 71 0 0 2 29 7 100
Total 249 83 26 9 25 8 300 100

Seventy-one percent of fatally injured ATV riders were killed in crashes involving no other vehicles in 2017, compared with 46 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes.

Crash deaths by number of involved vehicles and vehicle type, 2017
Crash type ATV riders Passenger vehicle occupants All motor vehicle deaths*
Number % Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 214 71 11,019 46 19,969 54
Multiple-vehicle 86 29 12,689 54 17,164 46
All crashes 300 100 23,708 100 37,133 100

Among ATV riders killed in single-vehicle crashes in 2017, 60 percent involved the ATV rolling over during the crash. This was comparable with SUVs and large trucks, but higher than cars (43 percent).

Occupant deaths in single-vehicle crashes by rollover, 2017
Rollover No rollover Total
Number % Number % Number %
ATV 129 60 85 40 214 100
Car 2,398 43 3,169 57 5,567 100
SUV 1,722 62 1,037 38 2,759 100
Pickup 1,420 55 1,140 45 2,560 100
Large trucks 251 63 147 37 398 100

ATV rider deaths on public roads in 2017 were highest in June. Fifty-eight percent of the deaths in 2017 occurred during May-September.

ATV rider deaths on public roads by month, 2017
Deaths %
January 11 4
February 12 4
March 16 5
April 29 10
May 28 9
June 40 13
July 39 13
August 32 11
September 34 11
October 24 8
November 15 5
December 20 7
Total 300 100

Seventy-nine percent of ATV riders killed on public roads in 2017 were on rural roads. Of those, 90 percent were on minor roads.

ATV rider deaths by road type and land use, 2017
Road type Urban Rural Total*
Number % Number % Number %
Interstates and freeways 1 0 1 0 2 1
Non-interstate major roads 8 3 22 7 30 10
Minor roads 42 14 214 71 256 85
Total* 51 17 237 79 300 100

In 2017, 40 percent of fatally injured ATV drivers on public roads had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. Impairment was highest at 67 percent among fatally injured ATV drivers ages 30-39.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured ATV drivers with high BACs on public roads by age, 2017
Age Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
<20 48 2 5 2 4
20-29 56 19 34 14 24
30-39 41 28 67 19 47
40-49 35 20 57 14 39
50+ 82 36 45 25 30
Total 262 106 40 73 28