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The Ultimate In Motorcycle Insurance Facts and Figures

There are a lot of facts associated with motorcycling, and you should know all the straight skinny before you head out on the road.

Who knows? All this knowledge might come in handy. As well all well know, knowledge is power…

The National Insurance Crime Bureau said that motorcycle thefts fell 24 percent in 2010 from a year earlier, based on data from the National Crime Information Center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Motorcycle thefts have declined each year from 2006 to 2010 with the largest decrease occurring between 2008 and 2009. The top five makes stolen and the top five states in thefts for 2010 are shown below:

Top Five Makes Stolen, 2010    Top Five States in Motorcycle Thefts, 2010

1. Honda 12,260                               1. California 5,662

2. Yamaha 9,853                              2. Texas 4,394

3. Suzuki 8,969                                 3. Florida 4,148

4. Kawasaki 5,470                          4. North Carolina 2,649

5. Unknown make 3,420             5. Indiana 1,925

FATALITIES AND INJURIES

Overall: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov), tthe following new terms are used to define motorcycle occupants: a motorcycle rider is the operator only; a passenger is any person seated on the motorcycle but not in control of the motorcycle; and any combined reference to the motorcycle rider (operator) as well as the passenger will be referred to as motorcyclists.

NHTSA says that in 2009, 4,462 motorcyclists died in crashes, down 16.0 percent from 5,312 in 2008, ending an 11- year increase in motorcycle deaths. Motorcycle fatalities in 2008 were at the highest level since NHTSA began collecting data in 1975. In 2009, 90,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents, down 6.3 percent from 2008. In 2009 motorcyclists accounted for 13 percent of all traffic fatalities, 16 percent of all occupant fatalities and 4 percent of all occupants injured.

By Age: Older motorcyclists account for half of all motorcyclist fatalities. NHTSA data show that in 2008, 51 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes were age 40 or over, compared with 33 percent 10 years earlier. In contrast, fatalities among young motorcyclists have declined in the past 10 years, relative to other age groups. In 2008 fatalities in the under 30-year-old group dropped to 31 percent of total motorcyclists killed in crashes from 40 percent in 1998. Fatalities among motorcyclists in the 30-to 39-year-old group fell to 19 percent in 2008 from 27 percent ten years earlier.

By Driver Behavior: Alcohol use: NHTSA says that in 2009, 29 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08 percent (the national definition of drunk driving), compared with 23 percent of drivers of passenger cars, 23 percent of light truck drivers and 2 percent of large truck drivers in fatal crashes.

In 2008, 30 percent of all fatally injured motorcycle riders had BACs of 0.08 percent or higher. Another 7 percent had lower alcohol levels (0.01 to 0.07 percent BAC.). Fatally injured motorcycle riders between the ages of 40 to 49 had the highest percentage of BACs 0.08 percent and above (41 percent), compared with 36 percent for those ages 35 to 39. Forty-three percent of the 2,291 fatally injured motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2008 (for example, those in which the motorcycle crashed into a stationary object) had BACs of 0.08 percent or higher. On weekend nights, the proportion was higher: 64 percent of motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes had BACs of 0.08 percent or higher.

In 2008, motorcycle riders killed in traffic crashes at night were nearly 4 times more likely to have BAC levels at or over 0.08 percent (48 percent) than those killed during the day (13 percent).

The reported helmet use rate for motorcycle riders with BACs at or over 0.08 percent who were killed in traffic crashes was 46 percent in 2008, compared with 66 percent for those who did not have any measurable blood alcohol.

Speeding: In 2008, 35 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 23 percent for drivers of passenger cars, 19 percent for light truck drivers and 8 percent for large truck drivers, according to NHTSA.

Licensing: One out of four motorcycle riders (25 percent) who were involved in fatal crashes were riding without a valid license in 2008, compared with 12 percent of passenger vehicle drivers. NHTSA says that motorcycle operators were also 1.4 times more likely than passenger vehicle drivers to have a prior license suspension or revocation (18 percent compared with 13 percent).

By Type of Motorcycle: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), riders of “supersports” motorcycles have driver death rates per 10,000 registered vehicles nearly four times higher than for drivers of other types of motorcycles. Supersports have more horsepower than conventional motorcycles and can reach speeds of up to 190 mph. They are built on racing platforms and are modified for street use. The bikes are popular with riders under the age of 30. The bikes are light-weight and aerodynamically styled. In 2005, these bikes registered 22.5 driver deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles compared with 10.7 deaths for other sport models (related to supersports but do not have the acceleration, stability and handling of supersports). Standards and cruisers and touring bikes, with upright handlebars, have rates of 5.7 and 6.5 per 10,000 vehicles. In 2005, supersports accounted for 9 percent of registrations, and standards and cruisers made up 51 percent of registrations. Among fatally injured drivers, the IIHS says that drivers of supersports were the youngest—with an average age of 27. Touring motorcycle drivers were the oldest, 51 years old. Fatally injured drivers of other sports models were 34, on average; standard and cruiser drivers were 44 years old. Speeding and driver error were bigger factors in supersport and sport fatal crashes. Speed was cited in 57 percent of supersport riders’ fatal crashes in 2005 and in 46 percent for sport model riders. Speed was a factor in 27 of fatal crashes of riders of cruisers and standards, and for 22 percent of riders of touring models.

INSURANCE LOSSES

Collision Losses by Type: The IIHS says that supersports have the overall highest insurance losses under collision coverage among the motorcycle classes, almost four times higher than for touring models and more than six times higher than for cruisers. Nine of the ten motorcycles with the highest losses were supersports. Claim frequency is driving the high losses for supersports, meaning that they are involved in more collisions than other types of motorcycles—there were 9 claims per 100 insured vehicle years for supersports models, compared with 2.3 for all models. The models surveyed were all 2002-2006 models. Touring motorcycles had the most expensive claims because they are the most expensive to purchase. Supersport models are the most popular with thieves—with average loss payments for theft losses per insured vehicle years of $246 for 2002-2006 models, seven times higher than the average for all motorcycles. Supersport models had the highest frequency of thefts—31.8 per insured vehicle year, compared with cruisers and touring models which had the lowest at 1.1 claims per insured vehicle year. However, touring models had the highest average loss payments—$15,696, reflecting their high purchase price and upgrades.

SAFETY ISSUES

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF, http://www.msf-usa.org), sponsored by motorcycle manufacturers and distributors, works with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), state governments and other organizations to improve motorcycle safety through education, training and licensing. Since 1973 about 3.2 million motorcyclists have taken MSF training courses. The organization also works with the states to integrate rider safety and skills in licensing tests. It also promotes safety by recommending motorcycle operators wear protective gear, especially helmets, ride sober and ride within their skill limits.

Antilock Brakes: Stopping a motorcycle is more complex than stopping a car. Motorcycles have separate brakes for the front and rear wheels, and braking hard can lock the wheels and cause the bike to overturn. Not braking hard enough can put the rider into harm’s way. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said in March 2010 that motorcycles with antilocks versus those without are 37 percent less likely to be in fatal crashes. In addition, the IIHS’s affiliate, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), found that bikes with antilocks have 22 percent fewer claims for damage per insured vehicle year than the same model bikes without antilocks. HLDI also studied medical claims and found that under medical payment coverage, bikes with antilocks had 30 percent lower claim frequencies than bikes that did not have antilocks. (Claims frequencies represent the number of claims.) Claim frequencies were 33 percent lower under bodily injury liability coverage.

 

Airbags:Honda Motorcycle Company is the first company to offer the option of an airbag, which is available on one of the most expensive models. The option became available in 2006. A handful of companies have recently developed wearable airbags, which are worn either inside a jacket or strapped on outside. No data on the effectiveness of these new items has been published. 

Motorcycle Helmets: In 2009 motorcycle helmets saved 1,483 lives. NHTSA says that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, 732 more lives would have been saved. Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries for motorcycle riders (operators) and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers.

Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws: According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 20 states and the District of Columbia had laws on the books requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets as of June 2011 (See chart below). In another 27 states only people under a specific age (mostly between 17 and 20 years of age) were required to wear helmets. Three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) had no helmet use laws. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study covering 10 states found that when universal helmet laws, which pertain to all riders, were repealed, helmet use rates dropped from 99 percent to 50 percent. In states where the universal law was reinstated, helmet use rates rose to above 95 percent.

According to NHTSA’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey, motorcycle helmet use plummeted to 54 percent in June 2010 from 67 percent in June 2009. Helmet use reached a high of 71 percent in October 2000. Usage rates are higher in states that have universal laws that require all riders to use helmets. In June 2010, 76 percent of motorcyclists in universal law states wore them, 10 percentage points less than in 2009. In states without universal laws, usage was down 15 percentage points, dropping from 55 percent in 2009 to 40 percent in 2010. Motorcycle helmet use in 2010 was highest in the West, at 75 percent, down from 83 percent in the previous year, and lowest in the Midwest, at 43 percent, down from 67 percent in 2009. Helmet use was 54 percent in both the Northeast and the South, down by 7 percentage points and 11 percentage points, respectively from 2009. The survey only counts helmets that comply with Department of Transportation standards.

STATE MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE LAWS
As of June 2011
Universal law Partial law (1)
State
Alabama X
Alaska 17 and younger (2)
Arizona 17 and younger
Arkansas 20 and younger
California X
Colorado 17 and younger and their passengers 17 and younger
Connecticut 17 and younger
Delaware 18 and younger
District of Columbia X
Florida 20 and younger (3)
Georgia X
Hawaii 17 and younger
Idaho 17 and younger
Illinois
Indiana 17 and younger
Iowa
Kansas 17 and younger
Kentucky 20 and younger  (3), (4)
Louisiana X
Maine 17 and younger (4)
Maryland X
Massachusetts X
Michigan X
Minnesota 17 and younger (4)
Mississippi X
Missouri X
Montana 17 and younger
Nebraska X
Nevada X
New Hampshire
New Jersey X
New Mexico 17 and younger
New York X
North Carolina X
North Dakota 17 and younger (5)
Ohio 17 and younger (6)
Oklahoma 17 and younger
Oregon X
Pennsylvania 20 and younger (7)
Rhode Island 20 and younger (7)
South Carolina 20  and younger
South Dakota 17 and younger
Tennessee X
Texas 20 and younger (3)
Utah 17 and younger
Vermont X
Virginia X
Washington X
West Virginia X
Wisconsin 17 and younger (4)
Wyoming 17 and younger

(1) Universal laws cover all riders; partial laws cover young riders or some adult riders.

(2) Alaska’s motorcycle helmet use law covers passengers of all ages, operators younger than 18, and operators with instructional permits.

(3) In Florida and Kentucky, the law requires that all riders younger than 21 years wear helmets, without exception. Those 21 years and older may ride without helmets only if they can show proof that they are covered by a medical insurance policy. Texas exempts riders 21 years or older if they either 1) can show proof of successfully completing a motorcycle operator training and safety course or 2) can show proof of  having a medical insurance policy.

(4) Motorcycle helmet laws in Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also cover operators with instructional/learner’s permits. Maine’s motorcycle helmet use law also covers passengers 17 years and younger and passengers if their operators are required to wear a helmet.

(5) North Dakota’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all passengers traveling with operators who are covered by the law.

(6) Ohio’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first year of licensure and all passengers of operators who are covered by the law.

(7) Rhode Island’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first year of licensure and all passengers. Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet use law covers all operators during the first two years of licensure unless the operator has completed the safety course approved by the Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute.

MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE, 1994-2010 (1)
Year Percent Year Percent
1994 63% 2005 48%
1996 64 2006 51
1998 67 2007 58
2000 71 2008 63
2002 58 2009 67
2004 58 2010 54

(1) Based on surveys of motorcyclists using helmets meeting Department of Transportation standards. Surveys conducted in October for 1994-2000 and in June thereafter.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Occupant Protection Use Survey, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis.

View Archived Tables:
MOTORCYCLE HELMET USE, 1994-2009 (1)

MOTORCYCLIST FATALITIES AND FATALITY RATES, 1999-2009
Year Fatalities Registered motorcycles Fatality rate per 100,000 registered vehicles Vehicle miles traveled (millions) Fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
1999 2,483 4,152,433 59.8 10,584 23.46
2000 2,897 4,346,068 66.66 10,469 27.67
2001 3,197 4,903,056 65.2 9,639 33.17
2002 3,270 5,004,156 65.35 9,552 34.23
2003 3,714 5,370,035 69.16 9,577 38.78
2004 4,028 5,767,934 69.83 10,122 39.79
2005 4,576 6,227,146 73.48 10,454 43.77
2006 4,837 6,678,958 72.42 12,049 40.14
2007 5,174 7,138,476 72.48 13,621 37.99
2008 5,312 7,752,926 68.52 14,484 36.67
2009 4,462 NA NA NA NA

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

View Archived Tables:
MOTORCYCLIST FATALITIES AND FATALITY RATES, 1998-2008

MOTORCYCLIST INJURIES AND INJURY RATES, 1998-2008
Year Injuries Registered motorcycles Injury rate per 100,000 registered motorcycles Vehicle miles traveled (millions) Injury rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
1998 49,000 3,879,450 1,262 10,283 476
1999 50,000 4,152,433 1,204 10,584 472
2000 58,000 4,346,068 1,328 10,469 551
2001 60,000 4,903,056 1,229 9,639 625
2002 65,000 5,004,156 1,293 9,552 677
2003 67,000 5,370,035 1,250 9,577 701
2004 76,000 5,767,934 1,324 10,122 755
2005 87,000 6,227,146 1,402 10,454 835
2006 88,000 6,678,958 1,312 12,049 727
2007 103,000 7,138,476 1,443 13,621 756
2008 96,000 7,752,926 1,238 14,484 663

NA=Data not available.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Federal Highway Administration.

OCCUPANT FATALITY RATES BY VEHICLE TYPE, 1998 AND 2008
Fatality rate Motorcycles Light trucks Passenger cars
1998
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 59.13 15.34 16.83
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 22.31 1.24 1.36
2008
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 68.52 10.72 10.53
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 36.37 0.94 0.93
Percent Change, 1998-2008
     Per 100,000 registered vehicles 15.9% -30.1% -37.4%
     Per 100 million vehicle miles traveled 63.0 -24.2 -31.6

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables:
OCCUPANT FATALITY RATES BY VEHICLE TYPE, 1997 AND 2007

MOTORCYCLISTS KILLED OR INJURED BY TIME OF DAY AND DAY OF WEEK, 2009
Day of week
Weekday Weekend Total
Time of day Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Motorcyclists killed
Midnight to 3 am 176 7.9% 247 11.1% 423 9.5%
3 am to 6 am   73 3.3 78 3.5 151 3.4
6 am to 9 am   173 7.8 57 2.6 230 5.2
9 am to Noon   212 9.5 184 8.2 396 8.9
Noon to 3 pm   380 17.1 349 15.6 729 16.3
3 pm to 6 pm   513 23.1 416 18.6 929 20.8
6 pm to 9 pm   391 17.6 538 24.1 929 20.8
9 pm to Midnight   291 13.1 359 16.1 650 14.6
Unknown   11 0.5 7 0.3 25 0.6
Total   2,220 100.0% 2,235 100.0%  4,462 (1) 100.0%
Motorcyclists injured
Midnight to 3 am   1,000 1.8% 2,000 5.1% 3,000 3.2%
3 am to 6 am   1,000 1.0 1,000 2.1 1,000 1.4
6 am to 9 am   5,000 9.2 1,000 3.2 6,000 6.7
9 am to Noon   6,000 11.5 3,000 8.4 9,000 10.2
Noon to 3 pm   10,000 19.9 9,000 25.0 20,000 22.0
3 pm to 6 pm   14,000 27.2 9,000 25.6 24,000 26.5
6 pm to 9 pm   10,000 18.6 8,000 21.1 18,000 19.6
9 pm to Midnight   6,000 10.9 3,000 9.4 9,000 10.3
Total   53,000 100.0% 37,000 100.0% 90,000 100.0%

(1) Includes 7 motorcyclists killed on an unknown day of week.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables:
MOTORCYCLE RIDERS KILLED OR INJURED BY TIME OF DAY AND DAY OF WEEK, 2008

VEHICLES INVOLVED IN CRASHES BY VEHICLE TYPE AND CRASH SEVERITY, 2009
Crash severity
Fatal Injury Property damage only Total
Vehicle type Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
Passenger car   18,350 40.4% 1,507,000 55.2% 3,686,000 53.7% 5,211,000 54.1%
Light truck   17,902 39.4 1,066,000 39.1 2,866,000 41.7 3,950,000 41.0
Large truck   3,215 7.1 53,000 2.0 239,000 3.5 296,000 3.1
Motorcycle   4,595 10.1 84,000 3.1 17,000 0.2 106,000 1.1
Bus   221 0.5 10,000 0.4 47,000 0.7 58,000 0.6
Other   592 1.3 6,000 0.2 12,000 0.2 19,000 0.2
Total    45,435 (1)
100.0% 2,727,000 100.0% 6,868,000 100.0% 9,640,000 100.0%

(1) Includes 560 vehicles of unknown type involved in fatal crashes.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables:
VEHICLES INVOLVED IN CRASHES BY VEHICLE TYPE AND CRASH SEVERITY, 2008

PERSONS KILLED IN TOTAL AND ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED CRASHES BY PERSON TYPE, 2009
Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities  (1)
Person type Total killed Number Percent of total killed
Vehicle occupants
     Driver 17,640 6,669 38%
     Passenger 6,770 2,022 30
     Unknown occupant 64 3 5
     Total 24,474 8,693 36
Motorcyclists 4,462 1,480 33
Non-occupants
     Pedestrian 4,092 562 14
     Pedalcyclist 630 85 13
     Other/unknown 150 19 13
     Total 4,872 667 14
Total 33,808 10,839 32%

(1) Alcohol-impaired driving crashes are crashes that involve at least one driver or a motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above, the legal definition of drunk driving.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables:
PERSONS KILLED IN TOTAL AND ALCOHOL-IMPAIRED CRASHES BY PERSON TYPE, 2008

DRIVERS IN FATAL CRASHES BY BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION (BAC) AND VEHICLE TYPE, 1999-2009 (1)
Passenger car Light truck Large truck Motorcycles
Percent Percent Percent  Percent
Year Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+ Total BAC = 0.01+ BAC = 0.08+
1999 27,878 25% 21% 19,865 26% 22% 4,868 3% 1% 2,528 40% 33%
2000 27,661 28 24 20,393 26 22 4,948 3 1 2,971 40 32
2001 27,444 27 23 20,704 27 23 4,779 2 1 3,261 37 29
2002 27,236 27 22 21,562 27 23 4,550 3 2 3,363 39 31
2003 26,422 26 22 22,172 25 22 4,658 2 1 3,800 36 29
2004 25,568 27 23 22,367 25 21 4,837 2 1 4,116 34 27
2005 25,046 28 24 22,879 25 22 4,900 3 1 4,679 34 27
2006 24,162 27 23 22,307 28 24 4,729 2 1 4,961 34 26
2007 22,765 27 23 21,719 27 23 4,601 2 1 5,306 35 27
2008 20,379 27 23 19,095 26 23 4,040 3 2 5,405 36 29
2009 18,279 27 23 17,822 27 23 3,187 3 2 4,593 36 29

(1) NHTSA estimates alcohol involvement when alcohol test results are unknown.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables:
DRIVERS IN FATAL CRASHES BY BLOOD ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION (BAC) AND VEHICLE TYPE, 1998-2008 (1)

KEY SOURCES OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONInsurance Institute for Highway Safety: http://www.highwaysafety.orgU.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.dot.govThe Motorcycle Safety Foundation: http://www.msf-usa.orgThe Motorcycle Industry Council: http://www.mic.orgAdvocates for Highway and Auto Safety: http://www.saferoads.org