Motorcycle Fatality Statistics in Pennsylvania

By studying motorcycle fatality statistics, researchers can identify trends and patterns in these accidents. This offers some information about how changes in helmet laws and other regulations affect the accident, injury and death rates. These statistics can also help identify the most common contributing factors that increase the risk of a motorcycle accident. In this way, this data may help prevent other riders from dying or suffering devastating injuries.

If your loved one passed away after a Northeast Philadelphia motorcycle crash, you should talk to a motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to review your options for filing a wrongful death claim. Cordisco & Saile LLC offers free case reviews to all motorcycle accident victims and the families of victims who died from their injuries. Call us today at (215) 791-8910 to schedule your initial consultation.

Motorcycle Death Statistics in Pennsylvania

According to reports published by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were more than 3,413 police-reported motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania during 2015. Of this number, 176 crashes resulted in fatal injuries for the motorcyclist or a passenger on the motorcycle.

In total, 179 motorcyclists or their passengers died in Pennsylvania in 2015. This was the lowest total number of fatalities statewide in the last ten years. Before 2005, Pennsylvania had mandatory helmet laws. The current laws allow bikers over the age of 21 and with two years of experience to opt out of wearing a helmet. The number of annual deaths rose after this change took effect.

While they now appear to be trending downward, there are still many more motorcyclist deaths on Pennsylvania roads than before the laws changed.

In 2015, more than 50 percent of those killed were wearing helmets:

  • 91 riders killed wore helmets
  • 86 wore no helmets

Bucks County alone lost seven motorcyclists in crashes during 2015.

Motorcycle Fatality Stats Nationwide

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiles statistics from police departments and other agencies nationwide to offer a “big picture” look at the number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities across the country. In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists died on the nation’s highways, interstates and rural roads. An additional 92,000 people suffered injuries in motorcycle accidents.

One of the important statistics tracked by the NHTSA is the age of the motorcyclists and their passengers killed in accidents nationwide. The totals for age groups include:

  • Less than 30 years old: 1,343
  • 30-39 years old: 770
  • 40-49 years old: 795
  • 50 or more years old: 1,677

When comparing the rate of motorcycle fatalities to the national average for all vehicles, it becomes apparent how risky riding a motorcycle can be. Based on the rate per vehicle miles traveled, a motorcyclist or motorcycle passenger is 27 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a passenger car. Motorcycle riders are also almost five times more likely to suffer injuries in a crash than a driver or passenger in a car.

Top Causes of Deadly Motorcycle Crashes

There are several contributing factors for a large number of these accidents based on the police reports about deadly motorcycle crashes. By understanding how these factors raise your risk of being involved in an accident, you can use this information to decrease your chances of a crash.

The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is poor driving behavior, either on the part of the motorcyclist or by the driver of another vehicle. Two of the top causes of fatal motorcycle crashes — both nationwide and in Pennsylvania — include speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to 2014 NHTSA statistics, about 33 percent of all motorcyclists killed on the nation’s roads were speeding at the time of the crash. For comparison, only about 20 percent of passenger car drivers in fatal accidents were driving above the speed limit when their crashes occurred.

The NHTSA also shows that 30 percent of motorcyclists who died in crashes during 2014 had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. Of the 4,311 motorcyclists killed nationwide in 2014, 1,287 were intoxicated at the time of the crash. Pennsylvania statistics held close to this nationwide total, with 29 percent of all motorcyclists who died testing over the legal limit.

Other crashes occur because of risky maneuvers such as lane-splitting. This particularly dangerous driving behavior occurs when riders drive up the painted lines between lanes rather than inside a lane like law requires. Usually drivers speed when they lane-split and they also are speeding in an area where other drivers do not expect to see motorcyclists. Since both of these actions increase risk, motorcyclists who lane-split are putting themselves in a precarious position.

Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is a lack of riding experience and/or training on how to avoid hazards. While these causes may seem minor, motorcyclists who do not have the skill necessary to handle their bikes at high speeds or successfully navigate around unexpected hazards may lose control and suffer serious injuries or even death.

Other Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

In addition to those factors under the motorcyclist’s control, there are also a number of other common causes of motorcycle accidents. Because motorcycles require balance and do not have the same stability as a car, obstacles that a car an easily pass over can cause a motorcyclist to wreck.

Potentially deadly obstacles for bikers include:

  • Potholes
  • Debris
  • Uneven pavement
  • Railroad tracks
  • Puddles
  • Patches of ice

Sometimes defective motorcycle design or defective parts lead to a failure in the bike and result in a crash. The risk of a crash is even greater if these defects involve tires, brakes or other essential parts.

Perhaps the most common cause of motorcycle accidents is carelessness or negligence on the part of other motorists. Some overlook motorcycles, pulling out in front of a bike or failing to yield to the motorcyclist. Texting and driving, distracted driving and drunk driving also lead to a number of motorcycle accidents each year. When another motorist is at fault in a crash, a Northeast Philadelphia injury lawyer can help establish liability and get you the compensation you deserve.

Getting Help for Your Bucks County Motorcycle Accident Case

Family members who lose a loved one in a fatal motorcycle crash may want to talk to a Pennsylvania injury lawyer about filing an insurance claim or wrongful death suit. Cordisco & Saile LLC can review your case, determine if you are eligible to recover compensation for your losses, and file a claim on your behalf. Call us today at 215-791-8910 to learn more.