Motorcycle Deaths: How Many Motorcyclists Die Each Year? Worldwide

Fatal motorcycle accident

In the year ending April 30, 2021, 229 motorcycle-related deaths were reported in Australia. As reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 5014 people died in motorcycle accidents in the USA. According to WHO, India has the highest death rate due to bike crashes.

When it comes to motorcycle injuries, most developing nations keep it underreported. Globally, motorcycle accidents are responsible for a significant proportion of overall road traffic injuries and fatalities. Amongst all accidents, most occur in developing nations. Sadly, deaths from motorcycle crashes are dramatically increasing EVERY YEAR! 

When compared with cars, motorcycles are much less stable due to their high-performance capabilities. As its rider lacks the protection of an enclosed vehicle, when it crashes, they are more likely to get injured. According to a report, motorbikes account for around 0.6% of all vehicle national miles driven but account for more than 14% of road fatalities in the US. Though there are many reasons for this high rate of fatalities with motorcycle crashes, the most common one is that the other colliding vehicle didn’t see the bike until it was too late. 

Are Motorcycle Deaths Rising Or Falling?

In Australia, 210 motorcycle crash deaths were reported in 2019. Though the overall death rate was higher than 2018,  2016 was the peak as in that year the death rate from motorcycle accidents reached 249. Amongst all accidents on Australian roads, motorcyclists account for 27% of serious injuries. 50% of such injuries are due to multi-vehicle crashes and thus, are more fatal than single-vehicle crashes. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), head injuries are the primary cause of deaths in motorcycle crashes. 

Presently, the rate of death due to motorcycle accidents is around 4.5 per 100,000 individuals. According to the data, people of the age group between 40–64 have the highest fatalities. In Australia, both 2014 and 2018 had the lowest death cases (192 fatalities) due to motorcycle crashes. 

Just like Australia, in other parts of the world like in America, around 5014 motorcyclists died in motorcycle accidents in 2019. Though after 1980, deaths due to bike crashes significantly declined, it again started increasing from 1998 and continued through 2008. According to a report, in 2019, fatality due to motorcycle crashes accounts for 14% of all road accident deaths, which is more than double the number of motorcyclists’ deaths in 1997. 

In developing nations like India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and many more, the number of motorcycle-related death cases is staggering. The number is running into the millions in total. For example, in the year 2001, the number of motorcycles in Vietnam increased by 29%. This growth percentage increased the number of road traffic deaths by 37%. 

What Causes Most Motorcycle Deaths?

Though there is a number of reasons that can cause motorcycle crashes, some of the common ones are as follows: 

  • One of the important causes of motorcycle crashes is unsafe lane changes. In most cases, a driver collides their vehicle with a motorcycle when they fail to understand their blind spot. Many times, they also miss out on signals while changing lanes that result in collisions. 
  • Speeding is one of the leading causes of road traffic accidents, especially motorcycle crashes. As a motorcycle is a more high-performance vehicle than a car, speeding might reduce the driver’s control over it. Speeding also reduces the chances of seeing and reacting to obstacles and other vehicles in time. Thus, it is always advised to maintain a controlled speed while riding a bike. Remember, the higher the speed of the motorcycle, the more severe the impact and the consequences. 
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be fatal. Also, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal and social offence. Thus, always drop the idea of drinking while driving, as it can be life-threatening.
  • Riding a motorcycle is fun. However, if you are breaking the rules of driving to make the ride more adventurous, it can be fatal. One of such adventurous practises that many motorcyclists practise is lane splitting. Lane splitting is about driving between two lanes. The practice is not only illegal in most countries but also increases the chances of head-on collisions. 
  • The helmet is one of the most important gears that every motorcyclist must wear while riding. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes, 37 die because of not wearing helmets. A good helmet decreases the chances of head injury due to crashes. 
  • Collisions between vehicles taking left turns and motorbikes are very common. Driver’s distraction, low visibility, speeding, etc. are the causes of left-turn accidents. To avoid such situations, it’s important for both the motorcyclist and the car driver to obey the traffic rules. 
  • Lack of motorcycle maintenance is another factor that might cause road accidents. Thus, before hitting the roads, it is important for riders to check if their bikes are in good condition. Check engine performance, tyre pressures, and other technicalities before starting off your journey. Consider taking your motorcycle to professionals for regular services. 
  • Potholes, crumbling roads, lack of necessary signs and signals can make a motorcycle ride dangerous. It can increase a rider’s chance of losing control of their vehicles and might cause serious accidents and even deaths. 

Which Countries Have The Highest Number Of Deaths?

Compared to other road accidents, motorcycle crashes account for the highest death rate around the world. Every year, it runs into the millions in total. Though it is a global concern, there are a few countries in which deaths due to motorcycle crashes are higher than the rest. Here’s the list:

  • India is the country with the highest number of deaths due to bike crashes. According to WHO, 33% of total traffic-related deaths are attributed to bikes. Though the percentage is low, in terms of mere numbers, it is 98,700 every year
  • Thailand has dangerous roads and here,  motorcyclists are known for their harsh riding. The country accounts for a 74.4% death rate amongst all road traffic death cases. 
  • Indonesia has the largest motorcycle market in the world. More than half of the population here owns a vehicle, especially motorcycles. However, only 71% of motorcyclists in Indonesia wear helmets. The country accounts for 73.6% of death cases due to motorcycle accidents. 

Countries, where motorcycles make a large proportion of traffic, have the highest motorcycle-related death cases. For example, in the UK, motorcycles or scooters constitute a small section of road traffic and thus, it has only 20.5% of death cases due to motorcycle crashes. Here’s the list of the top 10 countries with the highest proportion of death cases due to motorcycle accidents. 

  1. Thailand- 74.4%
  2. Indonesia- 73.6%
  3. Cambodia- 73.5%
  4. Republic of Togo – 71.6%
  5. Dominican Republic – 67%
  6. Myanmar – 64.8%
  7. Malaysia – 60%
  8. The Republic of Benin 56.5%
  9. Colombia – 52.5%
  10. Paraguay – 52.2%

Unlike car accidents, motorcycle accidents are much more dangerous and fatal. If we just consider the United States, bikes and scooters account for 3% of all the registered vehicles, yet they have a high number of traffic fatalities and injuries. Motorcyclists have the risk of fatal crashes that is almost 35 times greater than any other vehicle. 

However, the fatality rate across the globe can be reduced with better motorist awareness. Safe riding practices, along with cooperation from road maintenance authorities, pedestrians and other vehicle drivers, can bring down the fatalities and injuries significantly. Vehicle drivers should also be aware of the safety challenges of motorcyclists to avoid crashes. At the end of the day, a sound awareness on the part of motorists, both riders and drivers, can make the experience much safer. 

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

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