Motorcycles continue to be in high demand, despite increasing fatalities and a safety record that is demonstrably less than their four-wheeled counterparts, according to an article in Forbes.
The pandemic fueled an interest in motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and off-road bikes, as people searched for new types of recreation. Originally, motorcycle sales were expected to grow by 3.7% annually from 2014-25. Now they are projected to increase by 5.4% per year.
Yet motorcycle safety lags behind automobile safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a motorcycle driver is more than 22 times more likely at risk for a fatal accident than car and truck drivers. Motorcycle deaths were 15-21% higher in 2015-18 when compared to 2009. By contrast, car fatalities have dropped every year since the 1950s and have even reached historic lows.
Studies have sought to explain the difference in safety records by analyzing the cause of motorcycle accidents. Most—98%— are not caused by weather. Two-thirds of motorcycle accidents are caused by a vehicle infringing on a motorcycle’s right-of-way. A majority—62%–had fuel leaks or spills after the crash, which posed a fire hazard. There also are a number of recalls for safety issues.
In a 2021 report to Congress, the National Transportation Safety Board asked NHTSA to address motorcycle safety. This includes meeting performance standards for passenger vehicle crash warning systems, equipping motorcycles with antilock brakes, and creating standards for stability control systems.