Per mile driven, are motorcycle riders more likely to die, more likely to get in an accident, or more likely to get in a severe accident, than the average driver of a four-wheel car?
Wikipedia's Motorcycle safety: Accident rates article starts with,
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2006, 13.10 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 72.34 per 100,000 registered motorcycles. Motorcycles also have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance travelled when compared with automobiles. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists' risk of a fatal crash is 35 times greater than a passenger car. In 2004, figures from the UK Department for Transport indicated that motorcycles have 16 times the rate of serious injuries compared to cars, and double the rate of bicycles.
Another worthwhile question may ask whether helmets reduce the risk of a fatal accident.
Concussion and brain damage, as the head violently contacts other vehicles or objects. Riders wearing an approved helmet reduce the risk of death by 37 percent.
See also gloves, boots, goggles, jacket, pants, etc.
If you choose to get a motorcycle I would suggest you carefully research:
- What the consequence of an accident are, from a motorcycle, if you have one
How easy it is to get in an accident, for example:
- 75% of accidents were found to involve a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle
- In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.
How to avoid becoming part of the accident statistics (careful training etc.).
Some people claim that motorcycling can become relatively safe for you:
David Edwards of Cycle World wrote, "Here's the thing: motorcycles are not dangerous," saying that if a rider has a license, attends riding schools, wears all the gear all the time (ATGATT), and develops an accident avoidance sixth sense, motorcycling can become safe; "... do all of these things, become really serious about your roadcraft, and you'll be so under-represented in accident statistics as to become almost bulletproof."
The List of findings in the Hurt Report is quite interesting. Although (as stated above) it shows that, more often than not, it's the car driver's fault, that (it's being the driver's fault) doesn't help you to avoid accidents. Fortunately the list also gives many ways in which motorcyclists contribute to accidents, for example:
Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced
by the use of motorcycle headlamps-on In daylight and the wearing of
high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.
Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly Overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30
and 50 are significantly underrepresented.
The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends.
Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and
is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.
More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the
total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Motorcycle riders
with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the
Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear
wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision
avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was
The likelihood of injury is extremely high in these motorcycle accidents; 98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the
single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the
motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.
(subsequent item talk about protective gear like gloves and boots and
crash bars etc)
Seventy-three percent of the accident-involved motorcycle riders used no eye protection, and it is likely that the wind on the
unprotected eyes contributed an impairment of vision which delayed
So apparently there are things you can do to make it less dangerous for you in particular: perhaps starting with getting professional training, safety gear, communicating with other road users, learning what you can and cannot do with brakes and steering in an emergency, refraining from emergencies, etc.