According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), 2021 marked the deadliest year on Massachusetts roads in over a decade. And the data on motorcycle riders was even more shocking: motorcyclist deaths in the state reached a 25-year high. In fact, the MA Highway Safety Division noted motorcycle fatalities as one of the main reasons for 2021’s high overall numbers — along with excessive speed and lack of seatbelt use.
Is Riding a Motorcycle Really Dangerous?
Although many people find the excitement and freedom of riding a motorcycle attractive, motorcycles do have downsides. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are overrepresented in fatal traffic crashes. Below are a few statistics about motorcycle accidents from NHTSA and the National Safety Council:
- In 2020, 5,579 motorcyclists died on American roadways.
- Although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2020.
- Per vehicle miles in 2020, motorcyclists were around 28 times more likely to die in a crash than passenger vehicle occupants and four times more likely to suffer injuries.
- Motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were more likely to have alcohol impairment than drivers of any other type of motor vehicle: 27% for motorcyclists, 23% for passenger cars, 19% for light trucks, and 3% for trucks.
- From 2011-2020, motorcyclist death rates increased by 27%.
What Makes Motorcycles Dangerous?
Motorcyclists face the same dangers as everyone else on the road — impaired or aggressive drivers, excessive speed, bad weather, mechanical failures, and more — but motorcycles also have unique safety considerations.
- Less structural protection: Unlike cars and other vehicles, motorcycles offer minimal protection to drivers and passengers in the event of a crash. Although personal protective equipment — such as helmets, padded gloves, reinforced boots, and special jackets — can help reduce injuries in a motorcycle crash, they are no substitute for the bumpers, seat belts, and airbags in cars.
- Lower visibility: Motorcycles tend to have a smaller size and lower profile than many other vehicles on the road, which makes them more difficult for other drivers to see. In bad weather conditions or around distracted drivers, high visibility can be the difference between life and death. To help prevent motorcycle accidents, riders can increase their visibility by wearing bright clothing, adding reflective stickers, and installing LED auxiliary lights.
- Roadway hazards: Motorcycles are especially vulnerable to hazards such as potholes, debris, gravel, water, and roadkill on the road. Even a driver opening his car door in traffic or on the side of the road can cause a dangerous motorcycle crash.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcycle crashes can cause serious injuries resulting in expensive medical treatments, time away from work, and sometimes even death. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you protect your rights and seek financial compensation for your injuries. The Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at Altman & Altman LLP have over 50 years of experience advocating for accident victims and their families. Contact us for a free consultation on your motorcycle injury case today.