Fatality Facts 2018Motorcycles 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 2017, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 27 times the number in cars. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2019. Traffic safety facts, 2017: motorcycles. Report no. DOT HS-812-785. 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 2019.

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 37 percent in 2018. In contrast, 28 percent of the fatally injured motorcyclists in 2018 were younger than 30, compared with 80 percent in 1975.

Percentage of motorcyclist deaths by age, 1975-2018

Motorcyclist deaths by age, 1975-2018
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 1,276 30 725 17 747 17 1,553 36 4,302 100
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 1,481 28 964 18 892 17 1,889 36 5,229 100
2018 1,372 28 928 19 854 17 1,829 37 4,985 100

Ninety-one percent of motorcyclists killed in 2018 were males.

Motorcyclist deaths by age and gender, 2018
Age Male Female Total*
Number % Number % Number %
<16 17 85 3 15 20 100
16-19 119 88 17 12 136 100
20-24 548 94 34 6 582 100
25-29 581 92 51 8 634 100
30-34 463 93 33 7 496 100
35-39 398 92 34 8 432 100
40-44 353 89 44 11 397 100
45-49 402 88 55 12 457 100
50-54 418 90 48 10 466 100
55-59 442 90 51 10 493 100
60-69 599 91 60 9 659 100
≥70 195 92 16 8 211 100
Total* 4,537 91 446 9 4,985 100

Sixty-five percent of the female motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2018 were passengers, and their deaths represented 93 percent of the passenger deaths. The vast majority of male motorcyclists who died were drivers.

Motorcyclist deaths by person type and gender, 2018
Person type Male Female
Number % Number %
Driver 4,515 100 158 35
Passenger 22 <1 288 65
Total* 4,537 100 446 100

Helmet use

In 2018, 60 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers were helmeted. Helmet use was lower, at 51 percent, for people killed as passengers on motorcycles.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcycle drivers and passengers, 2018
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 2,842 60 1,686 36 147 3 4,675 100
Passenger 160 51 141 46 9 3 310 100
Total* 3,002 60 1,827 37 156 3 4,985 100

In 2018, 89 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted in states with helmet laws that cover all riders, in contrast to only 26 percent in states with no helmet law. In states with helmet laws that cover only some riders, 41 percent of fatally injured motorcyclists were helmeted.

Helmet use of fatally injured motorcyclists by helmet law status, 2018
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
No law 51 26 137 72 2 2 190 100
Partial law 1,143 41 1,528 55 91 3 2,762 100
Universal law 1,808 89 162 8 63 3 2,033 100
Total 3,002 60 1,827 37 156 3 4,985 100

Motorcycle type and engine size

Engine sizes of motorcycles whose drivers were killed in crashes have gone up dramatically. Among motorcycle drivers killed in 2018, 34 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, 1985-2018

Motorcycle driver deaths by motorcycle engine size, 1985-2018
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
2018 2,081 45 669 14 1,582 34 4,675

Among the motorcycles whose drivers were killed in 2018, 93 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, 2018
0-1,000 cc 1,001-1,400 cc >1,400 cc Total *
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 393 27 369 25 709 48 1,472 100
Touring 2 <1 65 7 843 93 910 100
Sport-touring 22 39 35 61 0 0 57 100
Sport/unclad sport 402 72 147 26 11 2 561 100
Supersport 991 98 18 2 0 0 1,009 100
Off-road 74 100 0 0 0 0 74 100
Other/unknown 198 33 35 6 19 3 592 100
Total 2,082 45 669 14 1,582 34 4,675 100

Among fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2018, 84 percent of cruiser or standard motorcycle drivers were 30 or older, as were 95 percent of touring bike drivers. In contrast, 55 percent of fatally injured supersport drivers in 2018 were younger than 30.

Fatally injured motorcycle drivers by age and motorcycle type, 2018
<30 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50+ years Total *
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 236 16 243 17 263 18 730 50 1,472 100
Touring 45 5 99 11 186 20 580 64 910 100
Sport-touring 2 4 3 5 11 19 41 72 57 100
Sport/unclad sport 258 46 129 23 100 18 74 13 561 100
Supersport 555 55 290 29 120 12 44 4 1,009 100
Off-road 51 69 12 16 5 7 6 8 74 100
Other/unknown 141 24 109 18 100 17 240 41 592 100
Total 1,288 28 885 19 785 17 1,715 37 4,675 100

At 81 percent, helmet use was highest among fatally injured drivers of sport/unclad sport motorcycles in 2018, followed closely by supersport at 80 percent and sport-touring at 77 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, 2018
Helmet No helmet Unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Cruiser/standard 817 56 618 42 37 3 1,472 100
Touring 431 47 449 49 30 4 910 100
Sport-touring 44 77 11 19 2 4 57 100
Sport/unclad sport 451 81 93 17 17 3 561 100
Supersport 809 80 175 17 25 2 1,009 100
Off-road 26 35 48 65 0 0 74 100
Other 251 89 282 98 33 12 566 200
Unknown 13 50 10 38 3 12 26 100
Total 2,842 60 1,686 36 147 3 4,675 100

When and where they died

Sixty-one percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2018 occurred during May-September. Fatalities peaked in June and were lowest in December.

Motorcyclist deaths by month, 2018
Month Deaths %
January 197 4
February 208 4
March 283 6
April 375 8
May 564 11
June 659 13
July 633 13
August 648 13
September 560 11
October 440 9
November 235 5
December 183 4
Total 4,985 100

Forty-eight percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2018 occurred on weekends, and those deaths were more likely to occur after 6 p.m. compared with weekdays.

Motorcyclist deaths by time of day, 2018
Weekend (6 p.m. Friday - 6 a.m. Monday) Other times Total
Number % Number %
Midnight - 3 a.m. 251 11 145 6 396
3 a.m. - 6 a.m. 110 4 82 4 192
6 a.m. - 9 a.m. 66 3 221 9 287
9 a.m. - noon 187 8 258 10 445
Noon - 3 p.m. 359 16 428 16 787
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 426 18 641 25 1,067
6 p.m. - 9 p.m. 568 24 482 19 1,050
9 p.m. - midnight 415 18 310 12 725
Total* 2,397 100 2,588 100 4,985

Fifty-three percent of motorcyclist deaths in 2018 occurred on major roads other than interstates and freeways. Deaths were more likely to occur in urban than rural areas (60 percent vs. 38 percent).

Motorcyclist deaths by location of crash, 2018
Road Type Urban Rural Total*
Number % Number % Number %
Interstates and freeways 514 10 113 2 627 13
Non-interstate major roads 1,719 34 932 19 2,651 53
Minor roads 751 15 832 17 1,583 32
Total* 2,986 60 1,879 38 4,985 100

Alcohol involvement

Twenty-six percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers in 2018 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent; in single-vehicle crashes this was 39 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with high BACs by crash type, 2018
Crash type Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 1,753 681 39 446 25
Multiple-vehicle 2,922 532 18 309 11
All crashes 4,675 1,213 26 754 16

Forty-six percent of motorcycle drivers killed at night (9 p.m.-6 a.m.) in 2018 had BACs at or above 0.08 percent.

Estimated number and percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers with high BACs by time of day, 2018
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.) 1,223 558 46 362 30
Other times 3,452 655 19 392 11
Total 4,675 1,213 26 754 16

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 47 percent in 2018. The proportion younger than age 20 decreased from 54 percent in 1982 to 17 percent in 2018. These data focus on straddle-type ATVs, as opposed to side-by-side models that have increased in popularity recently. 

Deaths of ATV rider on public roads by age, 1982-2018
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 70 23 44 15 36 12 88 29 303 100
2018 15 5 35 12 57 19 54 18 50 17 92 30 303 100

Eight percent of fatally injured ATV riders wore helmets in 2018.

Helmet use among fatally injured ATV riders on public roads, 2018
No helmet Helmet Other/unknown Total
Number % Number % Number % Number %
Driver 206 80 24 9 29 11 259 100
Passenger 35 90 0 0 4 10 39 100
Unknown 1 20 0 0 4 80 5 100
Total 242 80 24 8 37 12 303 100

Seventy-eight percent of fatally injured ATV riders were killed in crashes involving no other vehicles in 2018, compared with 45 percent of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes.

Crash deaths by number of involved vehicles and vehicle type, 2018
Crash type ATV riders Motorcyclists Passenger vehicle occupants
Number % Number % Number %
Single-vehicle 235 78 1,866 37 10,302 45
Multiple-vehicle 68 22 3,119 63 12,589 55
All crashes 303 100 4,985 100 22,891 100

Among ATV riders killed in single-vehicle crashes in 2018, 63 percent involved the ATV rolling over during the crash. This was comparable with SUVs and large trucks, but higher than cars (41 percent).

Occupant deaths in single-vehicle crashes by rollover, 2018
Rollover No rollover Total
Number % Number % Number %
ATV 148 63 87 37 235 100
Car 2,102 41 2,987 59 5,089 100
SUV 1,580 60 1,033 40 2,613 100
Pickup 1,336 54 1,124 46 2,460 100
Large trucks 227 57 174 43 401 100

ATV rider deaths on public roads in 2018 were highest in June. Sixty-five percent of the deaths in 2018 occurred during May-September.

ATV rider deaths on public roads by month, 2018
Deaths %
January 10 3
February 11 4
March 20 7
April 18 6
May 40 13
June 46 15
July 37 12
August 34 11
September 39 13
October 27 9
November 12 4
December 9 3
Total 303 100

Eighty-four percent of ATV riders killed on public roads in 2018 were on rural roads. Of those, 91 percent were on minor roads.

ATV rider deaths by road type and land use, 2018
Road type Urban Rural Total*
Number % Number % Number %
Interstates and freeways 0 <1 1 0 1 0
Non-interstate major roads 15 5 23 8 38 13
Minor roads 25 8 232 77 257 85
Total* 40 13 256 84 303 100

In 2018, 46 percent of fatally injured ATV drivers on public roads had BACs at or above 0.08 percent. Impairment was highest at 68 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, 2018
Age Deaths Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.08 Estimated deaths with BACs ≥ 0.15
Number Number % Number %
<20 32 5 17 4 12
20-29 48 25 52 20 42
30-39 46 31 68 23 49
40-49 47 24 51 16 33
50+ 86 35 41 24 28
Total 259 120 46 86 33