ClickCease Motorcycle Accident vs Car Accident Statistics | What The Numbers Tell Us

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Motorcycle Accidents vs Car Accidents

Just How Different Are Motorcycle and Car Accidents?

Motorcycles are far more dangerous to use in comparison to cars. Due to its lack of protection, built-in speed, and small size, it is a risk to ride a motorcycle on the road. A large portion of motorcycle accidents are caused by motorcyclists being under the influence of alcohol. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2019, about 4,733 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred with 1,383 of them involving motorcyclists who were intoxicated. 50 percent of these motorcyclists were drunk driving at night and had a BAC of over 0.08 percent.

Below, we will continue to discuss the similarities and differences between motorcycle and car accidents.

Common Causes for Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle Accident vs Car Accident Statistics

A lot of factors may contribute to the cause of a motorcycle accident. This includes:

  • Speeding. Riders may not have enough experience in handling the speed of their motorcycle, thus increasing the chances of getting into an accident. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the average speed of a motorcycle prior to an accident is 29.8 mph. The speed will change to 21.5 mph at the time of impact and only 1 out of 1,000 cases is speed approximately 86 mph during the accident.
  • Intoxication. Motorcyclists may negligently decide to consume alcohol before going out on the road. This will make it difficult for them to control their motorcycle properly. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report in 2019 stating that 29 percent of motorcyclists who were involved in a fatal accident had a BAC at or above 0.08 percent. In a single-vehicle crash, 42 percent were found to have a high BAC, as well. A majority of these accidents took place at night.
  • Left-hand turn. Since a car is much larger than a motorcycle, the driver may not be able to see the motorcyclist as they are attempting to make a left-hand turn. The NHTSA released a statement indicating that 41 percent of motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers who fail to see motorcyclists.
  • Lane splitting. Lane splitting may seem illegal due to the dangers of riding in between two vehicles, however, it is not. In 2016, California made lane splitting legal. Motorcyclists are expected to perform this action with caution to avoid getting into an accident. Unfortunately, due to the size of a motorcycle, it can be difficult for a driver to notice a motorcyclist nearby. Under this type of situation, a crash is likely to occur.
  • Road hazards. Motorcyclists and their passengers are vulnerable to road hazards. Motorcycles may become unstable when dealing with faulty pavement, potholes, puddles, and poor weather conditions.

Common Causes for Car Accidents

Common causes of car accidents include:

  • Speeding. Drivers who exceed the speed limit are putting themselves, along with others, in danger of getting into a collision. The NHTSA reported that in 2018, there were 9,378 car accident fatalities where at least one driver was speeding. This indicates that nearly 26 percent of total traffic fatalities were contributed by speeding drivers.
  • Intoxication. Drivers who consume alcohol prior to driving may experience blurry vision, which will make it difficult for them to properly control their vehicle. This will increase the chances of a driver getting into an accident. According to the NHTSA, in 2018,  37 percent of drivers who were involved in a crash due to speeding were under the influence of alcohol while 16 percent were sober.
  • Distraction. A variety of factors may contribute to a driver’s distraction while on the road. This includes, but is not limited to, cell phone usage, daydreaming, and eating in the vehicle. In 2019, 3,142 people were involved in a fatal crash with a distracted driver.
  • Fatigue. If a driver suffers from lack of sleep, it may affect their driving. The urge to close their eyes and go to sleep will distract them from paying attention to the road. In 2019, about 697 fatal accidents occurred in the United States due to drowsy driving.
  • Aggression. Aggressive drivers will get themselves into a bad situation when trying to start an argument with another driver. Instead of focusing on the road, they are more determined to start an argument. This could result in serious injuries or a fatal accident. The AAA Foundation’s Annual Traffic Safety Culture Index conducted a survey to gather information on what types of aggressive behavior drivers have been committing while out on the road. About 26 percent of respondents admitted that they were aggressively driving by switching lanes quickly and/or being very close behind another vehicle. 32 percent of survey takers confessed that they would make rude remarks and/or would honk at other drivers. 25 percent of individuals would speed up when another vehicle made an attempt at overtaking them. And finally, about 34 percent of participants revealed that they would follow a vehicle closely to prevent another vehicle from merging in front of them.

Driving Under the Influence

When it comes to alcohol consumption, a motorcyclist is far more likely to be intoxicated. One out of three motorcycle accidents involve alcohol compared to 25 percent of car accidents. Riders who get into a motorcycle crash late at night have been known to have a high BAC level of or above 0.08 percent.

Injuries and Death

When comparing the structure of both a motorcycle and a car, a car offers more protection. This is primarily why motorcyclists may endure greater injuries when they are involved in an accident.

Common injuries for motorcyclists include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI),
  • Broken bones,
  • Spinal cord injury,
  • Harsh cuts,
  • Back injury,
  • Bruises,
  • Internal bleeding,
  • Road rash, or
  • Neck injury.

Common injuries in car accidents include:

  • Cuts,
  • Bruises,
  • Whiplash,
  • Broken bones,
  • Internal bleeding,
  • Back injury,
  • Abdominal pain,
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or
  • Head injuries.

Both motorcycle accidents and car accidents may cause serious injuries and even death. Unfortunately, they occur frequently on California roads. Nearly 3,561 motor vehicles deaths have been recorded in 2018, with cars and motorcycles contributing to the total.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you are a victim of a motorcycle accident, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced personal injury attorneys that will work tirelessly to ensure that you are getting the maximum financial and medical compensation you deserve. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation with the attorneys at our firm. No financial risks are associated with our services. Fees are not charged until we win your case. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling  (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our caring and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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