Fatality Facts 2016Motorcycles and ATVs

Motorcycles and ATVs

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 2015, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 29 times the number in cars. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2017. Traffic safety facts, 2015: motorcycles. Report no. DOT HS-812-353. 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 more than 300 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 2017.

Age and gender

In the early 1980s the proportion of fatally injured motorcyclists who were 50 and older started to increase, rising from 3 percent of all rider deaths in 1982 to 13 percent in 1997 and 36 percent in 2016. In contrast, 29 percent of the fatally injured motorcyclists in 2016 were younger than 30, compared with 80 percent in 1975.

Percentage of motorcyclist deaths by age, 1975-2016

Motorcyclist deaths by age, 1975-2016
Year ≤29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years ≥50 years Total*
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
1975 2,475 80 419 13 129 4 79 3 3,106 100
1976 2,565 79 426 13 142 4 97 3 3,232 100
1977 3,211 80 529 13 147 4 112 3 4,004 100
1978 3,557 80 603 14 177 4 104 2 4,448 100
1979 3,627 77 729 15 212 4 138 3 4,712 100
1980 3,641 73 896 18 265 5 149 3 4,955 100
1981 3,487 74 840 18 255 5 146 3 4,737 100
1982 3,082 72 790 19 247 6 138 3 4,267 100
1983 2,959 72 765 19 234 6 135 3 4,099 100
1984 3,171 72 813 18 263 6 165 4 4,425 100
1985 3,160 72 849 19 238 5 163 4 4,415 100
1986 3,034 70 877 20 257 6 131 3 4,309 100
1987 2,588 68 831 22 275 7 138 4 3,832 100
1988 2,309 66 757 22 278 8 146 4 3,491 100
1989 1,873 62 735 24 283 9 136 4 3,030 100
1990 1,885 60 805 26 265 8 173 6 3,128 100
1991 1,580 58 711 26 283 10 127 5 2,702 100
1992 1,242 54 638 28 268 12 143 6 2,291 100
1993 1,229 52 647 28 324 14 145 6 2,346 100
1994 1,121 51 584 26 338 15 171 8 2,215 100
1995 1,057 49 562 26 347 16 172 8 2,138 100
1996 932 45 541 26 408 20 196 9 2,077 100
1997 837 41 547 27 396 19 276 13 2,056 100
1998 897 40 599 27 465 21 265 12 2,227 100
1999 878 36 601 25 564 23 376 16 2,419 100
2000 986 35 696 25 666 24 476 17 2,829 100
2001 1,108 35 789 25 715 23 509 16 3,123 100
2002 1,022 32 767 24 758 24 638 20 3,187 100
2003 1,161 32 829 23 887 24 763 21 3,641 100
2004 1,256 32 853 22 946 24 849 22 3,904 100
2005 1,405 32 963 22 1,003 22 1,088 24 4,460 100
2006 1,495 32 984 21 1,085 23 1,134 24 4,699 100
2007 1,547 31 1,033 20 1,148 23 1,317 26 5,050 100
2008 1,580 31 964 19 1,135 22 1,431 28 5,112 100
2009 1,139 27 830 19 983 23 1,332 31 4,286 100
2010 1,121 26 787 18 968 22 1,447 33 4,324 100
2011 1,177 27 800 18 888 20 1,537 35 4,403 100
2012 1,219 26 883 19 930 20 1,662 35 4,695 100
2013 1,206 27 774 18 907 21 1,515 34 4,402 100
2014 1,276 30 725 17 747 17 1,553 36 4,302 100
2015 1,410 30 815 17 842 18 1,668 35 4,736 100
2016 1,429 29 921 19 852 17 1,769 36 4,976 100

Ninety-one percent of motorcyclists killed in 2016 were males.

Motorcyclist deaths by age and gender, 2016
Age Male Female Total*
Number % Number % Number %
<16 20 100 0 0 20 100
16-19 142 92 12 8 154 100
20-24 557 92 51 8 608 100
25-29 612 95 35 5 647 100
30-34 445 90 48 10 494 100
35-39 396 93 31 7 427 100
40-44 353 90 41 10 394 100
45-49 395 86 63 14 458 100
50-54 444 88 59 12 503 100
55-59 444 92 37 8 482 100
60-69 573 92 47 8 620 100
≥70 155 95 9 5 164 100
Total* 4,539 91 434 9 4,976 100

Sixty-eight percent of the female motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2016 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, 2016
Person type Male Female
Number % Number %
Driver 4,511 99 139 32
Passenger 26 1 294 68
Total* 4,539 100 434 100

Helmet use

In 2016, 61 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers were helmeted. Helmet use was lower, at 44 percent, for people killed as passengers on motorcycles.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcycle drivers and passengers, 2016
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 2,829 61 1,700 37 124 3 4,653 100
Passenger 140 44 173 54 7 2 320 100
Total* 2,969 60 1,876 38 131 3 4,976 100

In 2016, 91 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted in states with helmet laws that cover all riders, in contrast to only 27 percent in states with no helmet law. In states with helmet laws that cover only some riders, 40 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcyclists by helmet law status, 2016
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
No law 61 27 161 72 1 0 223 100
Partial law 1,097 40 1,596 58 64 2 2,757 100
Universal law 1,811 91 119 6 66 3 1,996 100
Total 2,969 60 1,876 38 131 3 4,976 100

Motorcycle type and engine size

Engine sizes of motorcycles whose drivers were killed in crashes have gone up dramatically. Among motorcycle drivers killed in 2016, 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, 1985-2016

Motorcycle driver deaths by motorcycle engine size, 1985-2016
Year 0-1,000 cc 1,001-1,400 cc >1,400 cc Total*
Number % Number % Number % Number
1985 2,649 68 613 16 0 0 3,896
1986 2,734 72 620 16 0 0 3,790
1987 2,441 72 601 18 0 0 3,409
1988 2,149 68 615 20 6 <1 3,139
1989 1,831 68 539 20 3 <1 2,682
1990 1,895 68 619 22 5 <1 2,790
1991 1,632 68 545 23 13 1 2,404
1992 1,351 65 517 25 7 <1 2,079
1993 1,330 63 582 27 11 1 2,120
1994 1,199 60 533 27 15 1 1,995
1995 1,174 61 564 29 22 1 1,939
1996 1,102 59 546 29 36 2 1,881
1997 1,053 56 612 33 33 2 1,878
1998 1,140 56 648 32 46 2 2,026
1999 1,073 48 644 29 98 4 2,223
2000 1,341 52 779 30 234 9 2,591
2001 1,540 53 780 27 309 11 2,886
2002 1,475 50 737 25 482 16 2,952
2003 1,620 48 829 25 612 18 3,358
2004 1,775 49 813 23 721 20 3,593
2005 2,069 50 928 22 861 21 4,142
2006 2,179 50 860 20 1,014 23 4,387
2007 2,395 51 917 19 1,117 24 4,740
2008 2,319 48 874 18 1,238 26 4,782
2009 1,805 45 735 18 1,137 29 3,987
2010 1,741 43 731 18 1,178 29 4,022
2011 1,928 47 752 18 1,180 29 4,120
2012 1,978 45 784 18 1,307 30 4,381
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

Among the motorcycles whose drivers were killed in 2016, 90 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, 2016
0-1,000 cc 1,001-1,400 cc >1,400 cc Total *
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 451 28 453 28 716 44 1,620 100
Touring 5 1 83 9 799 90 887 100
Sport-touring 14 36 24 62 1 3 39 100
Sport/unclad sport 379 71 144 27 12 2 536 100
Supersport 1,102 99 13 1 0 0 1,115 100
Off-road 59 100 0 0 0 0 59 100
Other/unknown 122 31 48 12 20 5 397 100
Total 2,132 46 765 16 1,548 33 4,653 100

Among fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2016, 84 percent of cruiser or standard motorcycle drivers were 30 or older, as were 96 percent of touring bike drivers. In contrast, 59 percent of fatally injured supersport drivers in 2016 were younger than 30.

Fatally injured motorcycle drivers by age and motorcycle type, 2016
<30 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50+ years Total *
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 255 16 273 17 315 19 777 48 1,620 100
Touring 33 4 93 10 179 20 582 66 887 100
Sport-touring 3 8 3 8 8 21 25 64 39 100
Sport/unclad sport 264 49 131 24 79 15 62 12 536 100
Supersport 662 59 294 26 114 10 44 4 1,115 100
Off-road 41 69 5 8 8 14 4 7 59 100
Other/unknown 81 20 73 18 69 17 172 43 397 100
Total 1,339 29 872 19 772 17 1,666 36 4,653 100

At 79 percent, helmet use was highest among fatally injured drivers of supersport motorcycles in 2016. 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, 2016
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 848 52 736 45 36 2 1,620 100
Touring 439 50 428 48 20 2 887 100
Sport-touring 28 72 8 21 3 8 39 100
Sport/unclad sport 414 77 112 21 10 2 536 100
Supersport 873 79 207 19 35 3 1,115 100
Off-road 16 27 41 69 2 4 59 100
Other 155 55 120 42 8 3 283 100
Unknown 56 50 48 42 10 9 114 100
Total 2,829 61 1,700 37 124 3 4,653 100

When and where they died

Fifty-eight percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2016 occurred during May-September. Fatalities peaked in July and were lowest in January.

Motorcyclist deaths by month, 2016
Month Deaths %
January 139 3
February 226 5
March 311 6
April 429 9
May 558 11
June 581 12
July 589 12
August 580 12
September 583 12
October 499 10
November 317 6
December 164 3
Total 4,976 100

Forty-eight percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2016 occurred on weekends, and those deaths were more likely to occur after 6 p.m. compared with weekdays.

Motorcyclist deaths by time of day, 2016
Weekend (6 p.m. Friday - 6 a.m. Monday) Other times Total
Number % Number %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 302 12 165 7 467
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 89 4 75 3 164
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 67 3 243 9 310
9 a.m. - noon 188 8 234 9 422
Noon - 3 p.m. 364 16 417 16 781
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 468 20 626 25 1,094
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 541 22 480 19 1,021
9 p.m. - midnight 352 15 332 13 684
Total* 2,386 100 2,590 100 4,976

Sixty-two percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2016 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. Deaths were more likely to occur in urban than rural areas (55 percent vs. 41 percent).

Motorcyclist deaths by location of crash, 2016
Road Type Urban Rural Total*
Number % Number % Number %
Interstates and freeways 481 10 133 3 614 12
Non-interstate major roads 1,558 31 1,537 31 3,095 62
Minor roads 673 14 385 8 1,058 21
Total* 2,720 55 2,059 41 4,976 100

Alcohol involvement

Twenty-six percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2016 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent; in single-vehicle crashes this was 37 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with high BACs by crash type, 2016
Crash type Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 1,846 688 37 438 24
Multiple-vehicle 2,807 502 18 260 9
All crashes 4,653 1,190 26 698 15

Forty-seven percent of motorcycle drivers killed at night (9 p.m.-6 a.m.) in 2016 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with high BACs by time of day, 2016
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.) 1,222 571 47 346 28
Other times 3,431 619 18 352 10
Total 4,653 1,190 26 698 15

ATVs

Deaths of ATV riders on public roads have increased more than 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 2016. The proportion younger than age 20 decreased from 54 percent in 1982 to 19 percent in 2016.

Deaths of ATV rider on public roads by age, 1982-2016
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 15 81 23 60 17 48 14 96 27 351 100

Seven percent of fatally injured ATV riders wore helmets in 2016.

Helmet use among fatally injured ATV riders on public roads, 2016
No helmet Helmet Other/unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 256 86 24 8 17 6 297 100
Passenger 46 94 2 4 1 2 49 100
Unknown 3 60 0 0 2 40 5 100
Total 305 87 26 7 20 6 351 100
Seventy-five percent of fatally injured ATV riders were killed in crashes involving no other vehicles in 2016, compared with 48 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes.
Crash deaths by number of involved vehicles and vehicle type, 2016
Crash type ATV riders Passenger vehicle occupants All motor vehicle deaths*
Number % Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 264 75 11,365 48 20,617 55
Multiple-vehicle 87 25 12,428 52 16,844 45
All crashes 351 100 23,793 100 37,461 100
Among ATV riders killed in single-vehicle crashes in 2016, 67 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, 2016
Rollover No rollover Total
Number % Number % Number %
ATV 178 67 86 33 264 100
Car 2,483 43 3,278 57 5,761 100
SUV 1,751 65 959 35 2,710 100
Pickup 1,560 57 1,175 43 2,735 100
Large trucks 277 68 132 32 409 100

ATV rider deaths on public roads in 2016 were highest in July. Fifty-three percent of the deaths in 2016 occurred during May-September.

ATV rider deaths on public roads by month, 2016
Deaths %
January 17 5
February 21 6
March 25 7
April 35 10
May 37 11
June 39 11
July 40 11
August 31 9
September 38 11
October 33 9
November 22 6
December 13 4
Total 351 100
Eighty percent of ATV riders killed on public roads in 2016 were on rural roads. Of those, 72 percent were on minor roads.
ATV rider deaths by road type and land use, 2016
Road type Urban Rural Total*
Number % Number % Number %
Interstates and freeways 0 <1 1 0 1 0
Non-interstate major roads 9 3 73 21 82 23
Minor roads 40 11 203 58 243 69
Total* 49 14 280 80 351 100

In 2016, 50 percent of fatally injured ATV drivers on public roads had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. Impairment was highest, at 63 percent, among fatally injured ATV drivers ages 40-49.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured ATV drivers with high BACs on public roads by age, 2016
Age Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
<20 32 5 16 3 8
20-29 69 41 60 24 35
30-39 50 26 52 14 27
40-49 50 32 63 26 53
50+ 56 24 42 21 37
Total 257 128 50 88 34