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Motorcycle Accident Statistics: How Dangerous is Riding a Motorcycle?



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Riding a motorbike is an exciting and enjoyable hobby for many. It’s also really convenient in certain sectors – delivery riders can be more nimble and agile than other drivers, which means deliveries can be more efficient and timely. But motorcyclists are vulnerable road users, which means that riding a bike comes with its hazards too.  

Over 18,000 motorcyclists were injured on the roads in the last full recorded year (2022), and 350 unfortunately lost their lives. For motorcyclists and car drivers, the risks they face are statistically similar to the dangers they faced throughout the 2010s.  

In this article, we review the latest statistics on motorcycle accidents and compare them to car accidents and cycling accidents. We also share why wearing a helmet is as important as ever and tell you what to do if you’re involved in an accident. 

Data on UK motorcycling accidents 2022 

The motorcycle accident statistics for 2022 were posted by the UK government on 28th September 2023. 

The statistics in this document are directly sourced from the government’s road traffic collision databases. 

Motorcycle injury statistics  

Let’s examine the databases released by the Department of Transport to reveal the level of risks on the road faced by motorcyclists, car drivers and pedal cyclists. 

Motorcycle vs car accidents   

Of the 16,943 motorcyclists involved in a road accident in 2022, 350 died. In comparison, there were 788 fatal road accidents involving car drivers and occupants out of 74,379 casualties. 

According to those statistics, motorcyclists are four times more likely to die when they’re involved in a road collision. 

Much of this can be explained by the unique challenges motorcyclists face. They’re far less visible to other road users. There’s also less physical protection for the riders, and motorbikes are more vulnerable to road surface hazards. 

Speed is an important factor here. 

7% of motorcyclist casualties reported in 2022 were involved in a collision where one or more vehicles exceeded the speed limit. In 4% of cases, one or more of the vehicles were going too fast for the road conditions at the time. 

The statistics show that speed is 50% more likely to be a factor in an accident where a motorcyclist is killed or injured than for car drivers. 

Motorcycling vs bicycle accidents  

Compared with the 350 motorcyclist deaths on the road in 2022, the number of pedal cyclist deaths is a lot lower at 91. 

You might believe this is because motorcyclists use the motorway network while pedal cyclists don’t. It might surprise you to discover that in 2022, motorways only accounted for 1% of motorcyclist casualties. 

Most accidents for motorcyclists and pedal cyclists occur on built-up roads in towns and cities or non-built-up roads like those found in rural and semi-rural locations. 

81% of motorcycle casualties happened in accidents on built-up roads, with 18% occurring on non-built-up roads. 

The figures are different for pedal cyclists. They’re nearly four times more likely to be involved in a collision on a non-built-up road. Safety experts believe that more cycling accidents occur on non-built-up roads because of their higher speed limits, harsher road surfaces, and limited visibility, especially in country areas. 

Main causes of motorcycle accidents  

According to the government’s statistics about motorcycle accidents, where a contributory factor towards an accident involving a motorcycle was recorded, these were the top ten factors: 

  • Rider error or reaction (5,347 casualties, 19.1% of the total recorded) 
  • Behaviour or inexperience (2,543, 9.1%) 
  • Rider failed to look properly (1,949, 7.0%) 
  • Injudicious action (1,947, 6.9%) 
  • Rider failed to judge other person’s path or speed (1,619, 5.8%) 
  • Rider was careless, reckless, or in a hurry (1,540, 5.5%) 
  • Road environment contributed (1,288, 4.6%) 
  • Loss of control (1,272, 4.5%) 
  • Poor turn or manoeuvre (1,057, 3.8%) 
  • Exceeding speed limit (881, 3.1%) 

Head injury statistics  

The UK government does not record the types of injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents. However, many studies demonstrate just how vulnerable motorcyclists are to head injuries in accidents and collisions. 

Wearing helmets in the UK has been compulsory for decades, and most bikers welcome that. We can look to other countries for evidence to understand just how much protection helmets provide. 

A study analysed 400 cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in motorbike riders at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center, Karachi, Pakistan, from July 2017 to December 2020. All 400 patients were divided into two groups: those wearing a helmet at the time of their accident and those not wearing a helmet. 

The researchers found that 51% of non-helmet wearers needed ICU treatment compared with 35% of helmet wearers. Non-helmet wearers stayed in the hospital for twice as long. The mortality rate among non-helmet wearers was more than three times higher. 

Not wearing a helmet can make a difference to the amount of compensation you receive after an accident too. That’s because the failure to wear a helmet will be seen as contributory negligence on your part. 

The causes of motorcycle accident statistics and how to avoid them 

In 2022, 18,180 motorcyclists were involved in a collision, 16,943, which resulted in a casualty or fatality. The manoeuvre made by the motorcyclist or the vehicle’s driver that collided with a motorcyclist, which led to the accidents, was recorded in 15,195 cases. 

In descending order, here are the manoeuvres responsible for these collisions: 

  • Going ahead other (8,675 cases, 57.1% of manoeuvres) 
  • Overtaking moving vehicle – offside (1,124, 7.4%) 
  • Going ahead left-hand bend (719, 4.7%) 
  • Slowing or stopping (716, 4.7%) 
  • Going ahead right-hand bend (647, 4.3%) 
  • Turning right (611, 4.0%) 
  • Overtaking static vehicle – offside (522, 3.4%) 
  • Waiting to go – held up (505, 3.3%) 
  • Moving off (465, 3.1%) 
  • Overtaking – nearside (363, 2.4%) 
  • Turning left (349, 2.3%) 
  • Waiting to turn right (115, 0.8%) 
  • Changing lane to the left (98, 0.6%) 
  • Parked (90, 0.6%) 
  • Changing lane to the right (89, 0.6%) 
  • Waiting to turn left (56, 0.4%) 
  • U-turn (46, 0.3%) 
  • Reversing (5, 0.0%) 

Many of these accidents can be avoided with the following actions: 

General riding and forward movement 

  • Manoeuvres: Going ahead (other), going ahead left-hand bend, going ahead right-hand bend 
  • Responsible for: 66.1% of all accidents 
  • Experts’ Advice: Keep left unless you’re overtaking, and be careful at roundabouts. Keep your speed steady and appropriate for road conditions. Be vigilant of the road ahead and anticipate other road users’ actions. Slow down before bends. Ensure your headlight is working correctly so you can see and others can see you. Reduce speeds, particularly on country roads. 

Overtaking 

  • Manoeuvres: Overtaking moving vehicle – offside, overtaking static vehicle – offside, overtaking – nearside 
  • Responsible for: 13.2% of all accidents 
  • Experts’ Advice: Check mirrors and blind spots, make your signal and be sure there’s enough room to overtake so that other road users don’t have to change speed or direction. Be particularly careful on single-carriageway roads. Always overtake on the right and take extra care when filtering. 

Stopping and slowing down 

  • Manoeuvres: Slowing or stopping, waiting to go – held up 
  • Responsible for: 8.0% of all accidents 
  • Experts’ Advice: Use your mirrors before you slow down and signal to let others know what you’re doing. When the traffic in front of you slows down, maintain a safe distance between your bike and the vehicles ahead. Always stop at “Stop” signs and be extra cautious at “Give Way” signs. 

Turning and changing lanes 

  • Manoeuvres: Turning right, turning left, waiting to turn right, waiting to turn left, changing lanes to the right, changing lanes to the left 
  • Responsible for: 12.2% of all accidents 
  • Experts’ Advice: Signal where you’re going, checking your mirrors and blind spots. Only turn or change lanes when it’s safe. Paying particular attention to the right depends on when there may be oncoming traffic. 

Starting and stopping 

  • Manoeuvres: Moving off, parking 
  • Responsible for: 3.7% of all accidents 
  • Experts’ Advice: Before moving off, check your mirrors, signal to let other road users know you’re setting off and look over your shoulder to check your blind spot. Be extra cautious if you’re moving out from between parked cars for other vehicles, pedestrians and car doors opening. Make sure your bike is safe and visible when you find a parking place. 

Special manoeuvres 

  • Manoeuvres: U-turns, reversing 
  • Responsible for: 0.3% of all accidents 
  • Experts’ Advice: Only perform U-turns where allowed, signal your intention to other road users, and ensure you have a clear view of traffic. Be cautious when reversing, and don’t reverse onto a main road. 

Key motorcycle accident statistics in the UK – FAQ 

Who publishes UK motorcycle accident statistics? 

Motorcycle and car accident statistics are published annually by the Department of Transport, a branch of the UK government. 

Previous motorcycle vs car accident statistics 

The number of accidents where a motorcyclist died went up in 2022. The figure was 350 people, compared to 285 in 2020 and 310 in 2021. This returned to the average figure seen each year in the 2010s. 

This same trend was mirrored among car drivers and occupants. In 2020, the number of fatalities on the road in that group was 618, rising to 682 in 2021 and to this year’s 788. 

Previous motorcycle vs bicycle accident statistics 

Unlike motorbikes, where fatalities from road accidents climbed from 285 in 2020 to 350 in 2022, the number of pedal cyclists dying as a result of an accident has decreased. In 2020, the figure was 141. This reduced to 111 in 2021 and 91 in 2023. 

What are the lesser-known statistics on motorcycle accidents? 

Men are 12 times more likely to be injured or killed on a bike than women. The figure for 30-39 year olds is even higher at 18. 

When a motorcyclist is involved in a collision with an HGV, there is a 9% fatality rate, according to figures from 2018 to 2022.  

Data on UK motorcycling accidents 2023 

The motorcycle road accident statistics for 2023 are expected in late September 2024. 

The Department of Transport publishes that and many other research and report papers

What to do immediately after a motorcycle accident  

Being involved in a road accident is upsetting and distressing. Even though you’ll feel disorientated and stressed, try your best to follow these steps after your collision. 

First, check yourself for injuries. Even if you feel OK, don’t remove your helmet, as this could make any head or neck injuries you’re unaware of even worse. If moving is too tricky, stay where you are and wait for help. Don’t try to retrieve your bike from the road, even if it looks undamaged. 

If you can, check the condition of other people involved in the accident. Everyone should move to a safe location out of the way of any oncoming traffic. Ask others involved in the accident for their names, addresses and other insurance information. If there are any eyewitnesses to the accident, try to get their details too. 

Call 999 and speak to the police. Request an ambulance for anyone who is injured. You’ll need the police report for insurance claims and legal purposes. You may also want to jot down notes about the accident while they’re fresh in your memory and take pictures of the accident scene and anything else that may have contributed to the accident. 

Err on the side of caution and go to A&E. Sometimes, it takes a while for symptoms to appear following an accident. The head, neck, spinal column and other vital organs can sustain severe injuries during a crash, so please get yourself thoroughly checked out. 

Keep the associated receipts and documents if you intend to make an insurance claim for any medical treatment expenses. You should also get a professional evaluation on how much repair your bike will cost, although this is more likely to be covered by your standard bike insurance policy. 

You have up to three years to make a compensation claim for a personal injury following the event. However, you should contact a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible if you intend to. 

If you’re looking for a personal injury solicitor experienced with motorcycle accident compensation claims, please call or email us. Our team will review what happened to you and then pass your case to the best-suited of the hand-selected solicitor firms within our network. They’ll represent you on a no-win, no-fee basis. Contact us today so we can put you in touch with the solicitor that’s best for you.