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July 15th 2021

Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accident statistics show bikers 50 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than car drivers

Becci Ashfield

Becci Ashfield

Legal Executive, Personal Injury

Motorcycle accident statistics show bikers 50 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than car drivers

It is often said that you can make statistics back up any trend you want, but when it comes to motorcycle accident statistics, the figures need no help in painting a stark picture of the dangers faced by riders every time they get in the saddle.

It is often said that you can make statistics back up any trend you want, but when it comes to motorcycle accident statistics, the figures need no help in painting a stark picture of the dangers faced by riders every time they get in the saddle.

As part of a motorcycle accident awareness campaign this summer, our expert personal injury team at Hudgell Solicitors is highlighting the risks faced by motorcyclists and how they are more vulnerable to serious injury, which the statistics more than back up.

Recent trends in reported road casualties have been affected by the national restrictions in place since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Provisional motorcycle accident statistics for 2020 show a decrease of 16 per cent in both deaths and casualties from the previous year – both of which were in line with a 14 per cent fall in traffic volumes over the same period.

But as traffic levels start to return to normal, looking back at pre-pandemic trends helps us better understand how vulnerable bikers are – with more than 50 motorcyclists being injured in an accident every day in the UK on average.

Here is what the Department of Transport’s 2019 annual report, which was published in September 2020, revealed:

Do cars or motorcyclists have the highest road traffic accident rate?

Motorcyclists make up less than one per cent of traffic each year and yet they accounted for 19 per cent of road deaths in 2019.

Motorcyclists made up 10 per cent (16,224) of the 153,158 road casualties in Great Britain in 2019 – although that was a decrease of four per cent from the previous year.

Furthermore, motorcyclists have the highest accident and injury rates per mile travelled of all road users.

In 2019, 108 motorcycle riders were killed per billion miles travelled, compared to just two car drivers, 29 cyclists and 35 pedestrians.

In total, 1,894 motorcyclists were seriously injured and 3,276 slightly hurt per billion miles travelled, which were significantly higher than the car driver figures of 29 and 192 respectively.

Motorcycle accident statistics showing motorcyclists have a higher accident rate than cars

What percentage of motorcycle accidents are fatal?

The number of motorcycle deaths in the UK dropped five per cent between 2018 and 2019, from 354 to 336.

The percentage of fatal accidents for both years was around 2.1 per cent, after 16,818 motorcycle casualties were reported in 2018 and 16,224 in 2019.

Before this, you have to go back to 2010 for the last time the figure was above two per cent for the percentage of motorcycle casualties that were fatal.

From 2011 to 2017, the number of road deaths fluctuated between 319 and 365, with the percentage between 1.65 and 1.93 per cent.

The number of casualties and deaths has declined on the whole since a recent high when the 472 deaths in 2009 made up 2.28 per cent of the 20,703 motorcycle casualties.

Motorcycle accident statistics showing motorcyclists have a higher fatality rate than cars

In comparison, the percentage of car accidents that were fatal in the last 10 years has never gone above 0.8 per cent – with the most recent figure showing that 736 car occupants were killed out of 89,331 casualties in 2019.

This once again highlights the fact that motorcyclists are more likely to die if they are involved in an accident than car drivers.

What percentage of motorbike accidents result in a serious injury?

Motorcyclists are also more likely to suffer a serious injury than car occupants when hurt in an accident.

Of the 16,224 motorcycle casualties in 2019, more than a third (36 per cent) suffered a serious injury (5,862). The percentage of motorcycle casualties suffering a serious injury has been between 35 and 37 per cent for the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, between 2009 and 2017, the percentage of car occupants that were seriously injured after an accident was just 11 per cent.

That figure rose in the last two years, but was still only 12 and then 13 per cent – with 11,887 car occupants suffering a serious injury in 2019 out of 89,331 casualties.

Motorcycle accident statistics showing more motorcycle accidents result in serious injuries than cars

How have the motorcycle accident figures changed in the last 40 years?

While motorcyclists remain at a high risk of injury or worse if involved in an accident, this is not to say that the figures around road deaths and motorbike accidents have not improved over the four decades leading up to the latest full report.

Motorcycle safety and protective equipment has significantly improved over the years and the numbers show clear evidence of this – which also shows the value in all riders investing in a good quality helmet, clothing and boots.

Back in 1979, there were 1,160 motorcyclists killed in 69,173 road accidents. These figures dropped rapidly in the next 15 years before fluctuating in the 1990s and 2000s, as shown below:

  • 1984: 967 deaths and 65,340 accidents
  • 1989: 683 deaths and 43,995 accidents
  • 1994: 444 deaths and 25,127 accidents
  • 1999: 547 deaths and 27,122 accidents
  • 2004: 585 deaths and 26,857 accidents
  • 2009: 472 deaths and 21,590 accidents
  • 2014: 339 deaths and 21,378 accidents

What types of manoeuvre result in the most motorcycle accidents?

Motorcyclists are most vulnerable to being involved in an accident at a junction, where two thirds of all incidents take place.

There were 11,137 motorcycles involved in an accident at a junction in 2019, which made up 64 per cent of all reported incidents – with this being the trend for the last seven years when the percentage has always been between 64 and 68 per cent.

Motorcycle accident statistics showing motorcyclists are most vulnerable at a junction

A closer look at the statistics shows that 806 of these accidents occurred when a motorbike was either slowing down or stopping, while 662 happened when a rider was turning right or waiting to turn right – in comparison to 396 for a left turn.

Other notable figures highlight that 1,264 motorcycles had accidents when overtaking a moving vehicle, 13 when reversing and 34 doing a U-turn.

Click here to find out more about making a motorcycle accident claim >>

Do men or women have the most motorcycle accidents in the UK?

According to the Department of Transport’s latest National Travel Survey, 86 per cent of all motorcyclists are male – so it is no surprise that men are involved in the majority of motorbike accidents in the UK.

In accidents when the gender of the rider was known, 15,631 were male and 1,143 were female in 2019.

This figure was 16,209 and 17,431 men involved in a motorcycle accident in the two years prior to this, when the figure for women was 1,171 and 1,280 respectively.

Motorcycle accident statistics showing men have more accidents than women in the UK

What else do the motorcycle statistics reveal?

  • More than half of motorcycle accidents (55 per cent) involved motorcycles of 125cc or under and made up 62 per cent of all ‘slight accidents’.
  • However, almost three quarters of all fatalities (72 per cent) and four in 10 (40 per cent) serious accidents involved motorbikes over 500cc.
  • Almost half of all motorcyclists in the UK (46 per cent) are aged between 30 and 49, with around a fifth (19 per cent) aged 50-59.
  • The average motorcyclist spends 176 hours riding a year, makes around 400 trips annually, and rides approximately 4,000 miles a year, according to the National Travel Survey.

Becci Ashfield is a legal executive in the personal injury team at Hudgell Solicitors. She is using her passion for helping her clients and her work volunteering with the paraplegic riders in the Talan Racing motorcycle team to raise awareness this summer of what to do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Read more here 

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