NHTSA Reminds Drivers and Riders That May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
Motorcyclist Safety Is Everyone’s Safety
Kansas City, MO — This May, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Region 7, which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, would like to remind all motorists that Motorcyclist Safety Is Everyone’s Safety. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and the end of May ushers in the unofficial start of the summer road-travel season. Safe riding and driving practices will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. It’s everyone’s responsibility — both the motor vehicle driver and the motorcyclist — to practice safe habits on the road and, ultimately, to Share the Road.
“There were 5,932 motorcyclists killed in traffic crashes in 2021, a 7.7% increase from 2020 (5,506),” said NHTSA Regional Administrator Susan DeCourcy. She continued, “Motorcyclist deaths accounted for 14% of the total highway fatalities in 2021 Sadly, motorcyclists are significantly overrepresented in traffic crashes and fatalities each year. In fact, motorcyclists were about 28 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and were 4 times more likely to be injured. We want to change that, and it starts with everyone on the road understanding that motorcyclist safety is everyone’s safety.”
One of the primary contributing factors to motorcyclist fatalities is speeding. According to NHTSA, 34% of all motorcycle riders involved (killed or survived) in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding, compared to 22% for passenger car drivers, 16% for light-truck drivers, and 7% for large-truck drivers. Motorcycle riders 25 to 29 years old involved in fatal crashes had the highest speeding involvement at 45%.
Alcohol impairment also plays a significant role in motorcycle-involved crash fatalities: 41% of the 2,158 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2020 were alcohol-impaired. In 2020, motorcycle riders involved (killed or survived) in fatal crashes had higher percentages of alcohol impairment than any other type of motor vehicle driver (27% for motorcycle riders, 23% for passenger car drivers, 19% for light-truck drivers, and 3% for large-truck drivers), and those killed were almost three times more frequently found to be alcohol-impaired at night than during the day (40% and 14%, respectively).
Like seat belts, helmets are a simple and effective way to reduce the likelihood of injury or death during a crash. However, helmet use has declined from 69% in 2020 to 64.9% in 2021. In contrast, helmet use continues to improve in states that require all motorcyclists to be helmeted. Additionally, it’s important to understand that both motorcyclists and their passengers should always wear a helmet. Among riders with passengers, helmet use among riders with passengers continued a sharp decrease at 52.1% in 2021, down from 65% in 2020 and 79.7% in 2019. In contrast, riders wearing DOT-compliant helmets saw their passengers’ helmet use increase significantly from 84.5% in 2020 to 91.1% in 2021.
Safe driving and riding practices by all road users — drivers and riders alike — will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our nation’s highways. Motor vehicle drivers and motorcyclists should keep the following tips in mind when on the road:
- Observe all traffic laws and always obey the speed limit.
- Drive and ride alcohol- and drug-free.
- Avoid distractions that place other road users at risk.
- Yield to motorcyclists, especially while turning at intersections.
- Wear high-visibility personal protective gear and DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets. NHTSA data estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn their helmets. Learn how to identify a safe, DOT-compliant helmet at nhtsa.gov/motorcycle-safety/choose-right-motorcycle-helmet
This May, let’s commit to safe driving and riding, and to our role in ensuring a safe motorcycle-riding environment. To ensure a safer riding experience, NHTSA recommends that all riders complete a rider education and training course. For more information on motorcycle safety, visit www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycles. For additional statistics please visit https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/ and search “motorcycle” under Crash Data Publications.