What State Has the Most Motorcycle Accidents?

It’s no secret that motorcycle accidents happen frequently and cause many deaths and injuries. Riding a motorcycle presents many unique dangers, requiring riders to take additional safety precautions. Understanding motorcycle accident statistics is one way to address the growing number of accidents that occur each year. When looking at the states that have the most motorcycle accidents, Texas, Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and Ohio have emerged on top.

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Texas Motorcycle Accidents

total motorcycle crashes were recorded in Texas in 2015

When looking at data collected over the last few years, Texas is generally either first or second in the country for the highest total crashes per year. The state totaled 8,181 crashes in 2015 that led to 459 deaths. These numbers are startling, especially since Texas only had 386,938 motorcycles registered in 2017. One influencing factor could be that Texas does not have universal helmet laws in place. Individuals residing in Texas are not required to wear a helmet if they are over the age of 21, as long as they can show proof of adequate health insurance.

Protective gear can help prevent injuries and motorcycle deaths, but there are a variety of other reasons that motorcyclists get into life-threatening accidents, which could attest to the steep death rate on Texas roads. Other drivers could be responsible for an accident, there could be an issue with vehicle parts or the government could have failed to maintain the road for bikers. Motorcyclists experiencing any of these circumstances should seek legal assistance for help determining liability and potential compensation.

Florida Motorcycle Accidents

Another factor to consider when looking at how accident numbers vary from state to state is if the area is biker-friendly. Warmer states with many rural areas often attract motorcyclists, like Florida which had 595,946 motorcycles registered in 2017. Most states only offer a few months for riding, but bikers can ride year-round in Florida.

total motorcycle deaths occurred in Florida in 2016

Florida has competitively ranked with Texas as the state with the most accidents, recording 10,331 crashes and 459 deaths in 2016. The number of motorcycle fatalities in Florida is daunting, and studies continue to look into why exactly that number is so high. Helmet laws are one influencing factor, requiring individuals 20 and under to wear a helmet. Older individuals aren’t required to wear a helmet, contingent upon proof of valid health insurance. Florida roadways are often heavily populated as it is a motorcycle-friendly state, and more heavily populated roads lead to more head-on collisions and rear-ending crashes. Being aware of these statistics can help both bikers and the non-biking community to be on the lookout for motorcycles, increase their knowledge of bike safety, encourage training courses and bring awareness to highway safety concerns.

California Motorcycle Accidents

California has also landed on the list of states with the most motorcycle accidents, hitting a record high in 2013 with more than 11,780 riders involved in accidents that resulted in 480 fatalities.

motorcycles were registered in California in 2017

In terms of the amount of riders on the road, 955,293 motorcycles were registered in 2017. This state has more than two times the number of registered motorcycles than that of Texas, but still has lower accident statistics in the past couple of years. Again, the concern for helmet laws emerges. California has universal helmet laws, meaning every rider is required to wear a helmet, regardless of age. Recognizing this as an option for why California accident numbers are lower than those of Texas could help sway other states into instituting universal helmet laws and help encourage motorcycle riders over the ages of 18 and 20 to still wear protective headgear, even if not required in their state.

Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accidents

motorcycle crashes occurred in Pennsylvania in 2016

Pennsylvania is another state with a high number of motorcycle crashes, totaling 3,545 crashes in 2016 that led to 192 deaths. This number has fluctuated over the past few years and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has been looking at five-year trends with a concern specifically for the safety of young riders. As a precaution, Pennsylvania requires riders age 20 and under to wear a helmet, as long as they have at least two years of riding experience or have completed a safety course approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

Safety courses are an important component for motorcycle riders, lawmakers, and other important stakeholders to consider. For example, the influence and research of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can help improve highway safety and lower motorcycle death statistics. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has created a motorcycle safety program that is free for licensed motorcyclists and provides them with a better awareness of motorcycle risks and how to prevent them. State-focused programs could be a solution to helping prevent the growing number of motorcycle crashes.

Ohio Motorcycle Accidents

The Ohio Department of Public Safety keeps a running record of traffic crashes year over year. This allows state officials to monitor driving habits and make strides towards safer roadways. In 2017 there were 3,826 motorcycle crashes, resulting in 3,162 injuries and 157 deaths.

total injuries were caused by motorcycles in Ohio in 2017

The helmet law in Ohio requires individuals ages 17 and under to wear the protective headgear. Statistics have proven that riders are 40% more likely to die from a head injury when not wearing a helmet, which could attribute towards the 157 deaths that occurred last year.

Not wearing a helmet isn’t the only cause of motorcycle fatalities. The nature of accidents must also be taken into account Injury and death rates can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

  • Other drivers
  • Impairment due to alcohol or other substances
  • Animals
  • Foreign objects in the road
  • Loss of control
  • Poor road maintenance (potholes, uneven roadways)
  • Vehicle defects
  • Part defects
  • Lack of protective gear

How Does Helmet Use Impact Death Rates?

With head injuries playing such an important role in motorcycle fatalities, helmet laws come into question from state to state. Our motorcycle accidents page covers helmet laws by state, which should be taken into consideration when looking at the percentage of individuals wearing a helmet and not wearing a helmet when looking at fatality statistics.

Additional ResourcePercentage of Unhelmeted Deaths, by State (2016)
Expand Resource
State# Motorcycle Deaths% Not Wearing Helmets
District of Columbia60%
New Hampshire1942%
New Jersey715%
New Mexico4747%
New York1347%
North Carolina1858%
North Dakota1283%
Rhode Island4100%
South Carolina18572%
South Dakota2271%
West Virginia2934%
Total U.S.5,28640%
Source: NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts: Motorcycles (2016 Data)

States such as Alabama, California and Georgia have universal helmet laws, and the unhelmeted fatality numbers are relatively low at 10%, 5% and 6%, respectively. Unhelmeted death percentages were much higher for states that had no helmet laws or partial helmet laws with 75% unhelmeted deaths in Iowa and Illinois, but with no laws in place.

Understanding the Statistics

Motorcycles are a popular choice of transportation, especially in states where the weather is warm and rider-friendly all year long. However, it’s a choice that involves an array of additional hazards that need to be addressed. Analyzing motorcycle accident statistics by state can help us better understand driver behavior, risks and potential moves to be made in an effort to improve safety and lower the amount of motorcycle fatalities and injuries that happen each year.

For those that have been involved in such accidents, find your own personal injury lawyer to understand all of the resources that may be available to you.