Motorcycle Accident Statistics in Massachusetts

September 14, 2021

Riding motorcycles is fun, thrilling, and somewhat more convenient than driving a car. After all, nothing beats the satisfaction of cutting through the traffic without any sweat and letting the cool night-time breezes brush against you as your ride roars forward.

However, biking is not all fun and games.

Driving, in all of its forms, is a duty demanding not only eternal vigilance from the driver but also a general sense of responsibility for their safety and that of others around them. Motorcyclists, however, seem to get in trouble more frequently than other drivers.

This does not mean that they’re any less skilled than the rest of the crowd, it is only a reflection of the fact that despite their many admirable features, motorcycles are far from being perfect in the safety department when compared to other types of vehicles.

Motorcycle accidents are quite frequent, throughout the USA and the same also applies in Massachusetts, however, this is not just an empty statement. We have documented evidence to prove that being a motorcyclist in Massachusetts poses an inflated risk.

man riding a motorcycle on a massachusetts road

Some Important Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Here are some documented stats to give you a rough idea of how motorcyclists are at a greater danger on the road when compared to other drivers:

  • The year 2016 witnessed 2,017 motorcycle crashes which resulted in 1,635 people getting seriously injured.
  • The fatalities for the same year were 42, a smaller figure compared to 46 from the previous year, but still an alarming revelation.
  • The previous number, 46, had been the average for motorcycle accident deaths for the past five years.
  • Of all the motorcycle accidents that happen every year, 80% result in either a serious bodily injury or a wrongful death.
  • In Massachusetts, motorcycle accident deaths account for 1/7 of all traffic fatalities.
  • In almost 30% of all motorcycle crashes, alcohol was a factor.
  • Motorcyclists, on average have a 36% higher death risk due to traffic accidents than other drivers.

This trend is nothing new, the risk of motorcycle wreck deaths and sustaining serious injuries has existed for years now. Between 2005 and 2014, just one year shy of a complete decade, NHSTA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) reported a whopping 507 motorcycle accident fatality cases for Massachusetts.

If you take a mean average for this number, the figure turns out to be 51 for every year – much higher than the number reported for 2016, 42 deaths. This means that the use of helmets (encouraged via motorcycle helmet laws in the state; more on this later) has helped.

The deaths of motorcyclists in Massachusetts (the mean for 2005-2014) represented around 5.3% of the total number of bike-related fatalities nationwide, a significant fraction.

While the numbers in Massachusetts are somewhat scary, they fade in comparison to what’s going on in the rest of the country. Motorcyclists only account for 4% of all registered motorists on the roads of the USA, however, their share in the death rates is highly disproportionate when compared to other drivers and vehicle occupants.

Motorcycles get involved in fatal crashes, 15% more than other vehicles (per vehicle mile) for most of the years documented. For 2016, 5,286 of the total 37,461 motor vehicle deaths (due to fatal injuries) reported across the USA, involved motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers.

90,000 catastrophic injuries in motorcycle collisions (i.e. head injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, etc.) are recorded every year on average, thus it would be an understatement to say that bikers are at a greater risk of accidents. Although the numbers in Massachusetts may seem better than some other states, and thankfully this is indeed the case, the threat is far from over – only eternal vigilance can keep us safe.

Why Are Motorcycle Crashes So Dangerous?

We’ve seen the stats and it suffices to say that motorcycles are dangerous, period.

But how come motorcycle riders face much more severe accidents than passenger car drivers? While the risk of traffic accidents is present for all, motorcyclists seem to take the beating more than drivers and passenger car occupants.

Primarily, the design of motorcycles is the number one factor here, they don’t have an external protective shell like cars, no air bags, and nothing else of the sort to block or cushion a fall. Things can get further complicated by manufacturing defects and maintenance trouble.

However, for most of the cases, it is the stuff that’s on the road which is more worrisome:

  • Bikers often crash into car doors.
  • Unsafe lane shifts/lane splitting is riskier for motorcyclists.
  • Speeding is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents..
  • Drunk driving/driving under influence of drugs is also a road hazard.
  • Aggressive driving is pretty common among motorcyclists and often results in crashes.
  • Inexperienced motorcyclists are more prone to accidents.
  • Unsafe road conditions have also factored in several cases.
  • Defects in the rides can also cause accidents.

And so on…

There can be a ton of reasons but an ounce of caution will be heavier.

How Does The Use Of Helmets Fit In Motorcycle Safety?

There is one area where Massachusetts outperforms most of the other states and that is wearing a helmet. The state has a universal helmet law which means that most motorcyclists wear them and thus protect themselves from blunt trauma to the brain.

Of course, helmets are far from being fool-proof, but they can be the difference between life and death in most situations.

You may have come across articles citing the NHSTA claiming that helmeted motorcyclists were more likely to die in a fatal crash than non-helmeted ones in Massachusetts, but this is not true. The fact is that most motorcyclists in the state wear helmets (roughly 90%, far above national average), and thus the two sides are disproportionate for comparison.

Wearing motorcycle helmets does help, and what these numbers fail to report is the fact that a lot of people who survived motorcycle accidents where, in an ordinary situation, a non-helmeted person would’ve died, was only because of their helmets.

The fact that despite so many serious accidents, the death rate in the state has not spiked up dangerously is enough to suggest that the universal helmet law has paid off. While some may protest over what they feel is an encroachment over their rights of personal choice, you should keep in mind (and sorry to be blunt here), those choices won’t do you any good if you let go of your life.

Wear a helmet, drive safe, don’t be another statistic!

Staying Safe While Riding A Motorcycle

While helmet use is as important as things get in the safety area for motorcyclists, you need to be extra careful about a ton of different things to stay safe while riding a motorbike.

man riding a motorcycle on a highway thinking of motorcycle accident statistics

Alcohol is the “public-safety-enemy-number-one,” especially for motorcycle operators, so learn to say no to a drink; exceeding the legal blood alcohol concentration while driving is one of the most dangerous things to do on the road. DUI can cause fatal crashes more often than most other factors.

Other issues include distracted driving, drowsy driving, speeding, violating traffic laws, and so on. You just need to learn responsibility and act in time to avoid accidents, also, never expect the other driver to show reasonable care (which they should), instead, you should be cautious of your surroundings while driving.

Avoid distractions wherever possible, and you should be fine.

Michael Kelly Offer Legal Representation For Motorcycle Accident Victims

Hopefully, you’ll ride safely and avoid danger however possible but the probability of being in a motorcycle accident is staggering enough to worry anyone.. If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle crash, it is important that you seek legal consultation before anything else.

Being an accident victim is hard enough with the complicated no-fault auto insurance laws in Massachusetts for you to worry about preparing a case and dealing with the insurance adjuster. Just remember, you can sue the other party for economic and non-economic damages under special circumstances.

If your losses exceed $2,000, you can file a fair compensation claim with the insurance company of the liable party, who’ll have to cover the expenses via their compulsory liability insurance. However, if the driver turns out to be uninsured, you can always fall back to your personal injury protection coverage or explore other options.

The point is, you have options, so don’t give up before trying.

At Michael Kelly, our motorcycle accident attorneys value each client and think of the people who come to us for help as we would of a family member in distress. We won’t ask for any advance on our attorney fees because we work on a contingency fee plan and legal consultation is free.

Call us today or fill up the contact form to learn more!

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.