How Dangerous Is Riding A Motorcycle?

You may have been cautioned about riding a motorcycle by a loved one or friend, with the majority of them saying it is dangerous. Are they right? How dangerous is riding a motorcycle? Are their fears unfounded? Is it irrational?

These and more are what we will be discussing in this article.

How dangerous is riding a motorcycle
Photocredits: fsHH,

So, let us face it guys, do you really feel motorcycles are safe? Keep this question at the back of your mind whenever you are mounting a bike.

Video: How Dangerous Is Riding A Motorcycle?

If you prefer learning by video, this article is also explained here:

How dangerous is riding a motorcycle?

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous. Motorcyclists are more prone to dying while riding than car drivers. Motorcycling is thirty-nine percent more riskier than driving a car. Over five thousand people are injured yearly due to riding. For every hundred million miles traveled by motorcyclists, 43 cyclists die.

But here is the truth, for riders, there is no feeling like the one you get when you are on a motorcycle. You are covering a distance and your cloth is dancing furiously in the wind.

Most of us like this because the feeling is great. There is also the sheer joy we get from riding a well-made motorcycle. Some others love it because it gives a sense of being free; from all the issues of this world.

A lot find it very therapeutic; it gives them a sense of peace. Some enjoy the sort of kinship it gives to riders. Members of the motorcycle community love to meet each other and enjoy rides and kinship.

Maybe not the most important reason, but some people opt for the motorcycle because it leaves less carbon pollution than cars.

Some motorcycle riders find it hard to believe how one would not want to ride a motorcycle.

On the other hand, truck drivers and car drivers find it hard to understand why anyone will choose a motorcycle over a car. While the fear surrounding motorcycle riding may be exaggerated, the danger in riding a motorcycle is legit.

First off, let us burst one myth. There is no 100 percent way to ride a motorcycle safely. Anyone who tells you that they have a riding lifestyle that is safe is probably not being sincere.

Again, no credible authority or source would truthfully admit that motorcycling is very safe.

By safe here, we mean no risk at all. Even the safest means of transportation has its own risks. How much more motorcycle riding? In normal circumstances, riding a motorcycle is considered risky and many people do the riding of a motorcycle on a normal.

To further buttress this, let us take a look at the data that was released by USDT in the year 2005. The data was from a resource called Fatality analyzing reporting system. This system showed that 18 deathly crashes occur out of a hundred thousand vehicles.

However, when we look at the statistics that showed up when that of motorcycle riding was considered, one would see the marked difference.

Out of every hundred thousand motorcycles, 75 fatal crashes take place. This is over 4 times greater than the resultant number in cars.

Furthermore, the data showed that 1.56 deaths occur out of every one hundred million miles traveled by cars.

But when it comes to motorcycles, 43.47 deaths occur per one hundred million miles traveled with the motorcycle. That is almost twenty-nine times more.

This finding also tallied with that of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They also reported deaths that are 29 times more for every mile traveled for motorcycles.

This will show you how safe the motorcycle is.

Motorcycle in so many ways is just like cars. They can move on similar roads. They are both strong and can really cover a lot of distances in just a few hours.

But the motorcycle has some differences which largely contributes to their being dangerous. They are the main reason why the motorcycle is more inherently dangerous than a car.

Some die-hard cyclists would tell you that your skill and smartness would help you stay alive and avoid crashes of any form.  

But these crashes do not differentiate between smart and unsmart riders. They do not also differentiate between irresponsible and responsible motorcyclist.

So, here is the thing, anyone who mounts the motorcycle is starting off on a disadvantaged foot.

What are the disadvantages of riding a motorcycle?

1. The motorcycle does not have the kind of balance that a car has. The motorcycle has just two wheels instead of the four that can be found in the car. While a lot can be determined by the skill and reflex of the rider, this is a major challenge.

2. If something were to hit a motorcycle. Once there is contact, there is every tendency that the motorcycle would fly.

3. The motorcycle lacks bodily protection and cannot protect the cyclist when a crash occurs. The cyclist is prone and can be injured.

4. Motorcycles are less conspicuous than their vehicle counterparts. They are harder to see than cars. When you are driving along the road you would not even see the motorcyclist until he is very close.

5. Technologies for making motorcycle riding safer are lacking. Cars have a lot of safety features like the seatbelt, parking sensor, and airbag. These are lacking in motorcycles.

But if something were to hit a car, there are four wheels to engage and maybe stop the car from literally flying.

Secondly, the freedom that the motorcyclist enjoys is actually his undoing. What do I mean?  A person driving a car is somewhat shielded. He or she is inside a metal cage of some sort that offers protection.

This is another basic thing that the motorcyclist does not have – bodily protection.

That freedom, that joy of feeling the wind move past your face at a rapid speed is actually a detriment to your safety.

Since the motorcycle does not have the protection offered by cars, they are more prone to suffer or get fatally injured.

On the other hand, cars can be noticed at a distance due to their sheer size. Which one would be easier to see at a distance – a truck or a Harley Davidson? Your guess is as good as mine. What this means is that it is easier for another driver to hit a cyclist than a car.

Photocredits: Artur Andrzej,

Inasmuch as the car is somewhat safe, technologies have been inventing things to make it safer. These technology-driven changes that occur in the car industry enhance safety which is not present in motorcycles.

For example, modern cars that are made in this time have a lot of protective measures in case of accidents. One of them is the invention of the airbag. What the airbag does is to provide a soft cushion in case a crash happens.

This means the heart or face of the car driver does not hit the steering or dashboard in the event of contact. This alone offers a lot of protection to the one who is driving. And this is quite unlike the cyclist who has nothing of that sort.

The airbag is in front of the driver in most cases. But currently, many cars incorporate them elsewhere in the vehicle. There are vehicles that have airbags at the sides of the seats. This is because the collision is not always facing to face. A car may ram into another from the sides.

There is also the seat belt which is another safety aspect. All the seats in the vehicle have seat belts that can help restrain the driver and the passengers. The seat belt is useful to guide against sudden braking and collision.

There are some circumstances that may cause someone to brake suddenly. Perhaps someone crossed the road wrongly and to avoid hitting the person, one has to apply brakes suddenly. In this case, there is every tendency that the force of the stop can throw someone off balance.

If the person may be flung out of the car also during a collision if they are not using the seat belt.

It can also be useful when the car is rolling over. The belt functions to keep the passenger or driver in place. Imagine being flung out of the car and then an oncoming car finishes the job that the rolling car has started and crushes the person.

The seat belt offers a force that is directly opposite to the one that stopped the vehicle. Such a vital tool in vehicular and road safety.

It is always wonderful when both the seatbelt and the airbag is used together. They further enhance the safety of the driver and that of the passenger.

A study that was carried out in the US showed that more lives were saved when combining the seat belt and airbag. The reduction of death shot up form just twenty percent to fifty-five percent. It also reduced major injuries from twenty-five percent to sixty percent.

But when we look at the motorcycle, we see that it does not have such a feature. If anything like forced braking happens, trouble is underway. The cyclist can be flung anywhere inertia chooses.

Yet another feature of cars that the motorcycle lack is side mirrors that are sizeable. The mirrors that are in the motorcycle are small and do not have a high range of view.

Technology, like we noted earlier is helping the car become safer. Such tech features are seemingly not available for the motorcycle.

Nowadays we have cars with dashboard screens that show you what is happening behind without you looking at the side mirror.

When you want to reverse the car, the image on the screen would tell you if another car or object is behind and is at the risk of being hit.

Again, this tech is not available in motorcycles.

New cars now have sensors that ensure to an extent that one does not ram into another person’s car. These sensors help to make sure that such injuries are prevented.

The car is larger and therefore has a larger headlamp. So, when one is driving during the night, they can see their paths well due to larger and brighter lights. The motorbikes on the other hand have just one headlamp.

Buy motorcycle headlamp on Amazon

What about the windshield and top cover which protects the driver during rainy conditions? The wiper can help clear the screen of the car and the driver is still on the move.

And what is the fate of motorcyclist during a sudden rainstorm? The torrential downpour would obviously blind the rider and would most likely stop him from continuing his journey.

Should we talk about the self-driven cars that are slowly emerging?

Preliminary studies have shown that these cars which are AI-driven are way safer than driving by humans. This should reduce the incidence of road accidents by almost 50 percent. Interesting isn’t it?

But what about the motorbike? No one talks about them.

The helmet only protects the head. What about other parts of the body? Vital parts of the body?

Surely with all these reasons you would agree that driving a motorcycle would need one to be alert in driving and very much skilled.

But motorcycle riders are facing dangers that are beyond their control. They have to deal with it anytime they decide to even as much as sit on the motorbike.

Notwithstanding all that we have discussed above, it is still possible for the rider of the motorcycle to ride in some level of safety. Yes, it is vital you are safe, so you do not become one more casualty in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistic.

Video: How To Avoid Common Crashes

This video teaches common motorcycle crashes and how to avoid them.

What Can You Do To Avoid Getting Caught In A Crash?

To avoid getting caught in a crash, do the following:

1. Avoid group motorcycling.

2. Get proper riding training. Never ride a motorcycle without doing this.

3. Upgrade your motorcycle.

4. Always wear protective gear.

5. Assume that the other road users are not seeing you.

6. Always be conscious of yourself and your environment.

Avoid Group Motorcycling

There is something that happens naturally with humans when they are in a group. It is called ‘following the crowd’ or ‘herd mentality.’

When an average human sees himself or herself in the midst of a great company, there is every tendency that such a person would want to be like others. There is every tendency that the person would conform to the crowd.

It does not matter whether what the crowd is doing is good or bad. And that is a huge problem not just in the world but also in motorcycling.

When you join gang rides or group cycling, there is every tendency that you might want to copy or even outdo another when showing off riding skills. People do this whether the riding skill that they are trying to show off is dangerous or not.

And if this is happening and a crash occurs, the number of injured or maybe dead people may be sizeable.

Dangers of being wounded is not just from cars or other motorcyclists. Even the members of your group can also be the ones crashing into another.

Get Proper Training

We all know how fun it is to get a new motorbike and want to hop on and ride around the world. Cute feeling, we would say. But it had better be that you are very well trained before using a motorcycle.

One reason why safety is important is that you are not just protecting yourself. Perhaps you do not give a damn about yourself, well at least you’ve got to give a damn about others.

Proper and adequate training would help you to stay safe. You’ve got to adhere to the rules and regulations that have been given to you during training. It is one thing to go for training. It is another for you to abide and apply what you are taught.

A lot of people, even car drivers, just comply with rules so they can get the permit to drive. Once they do get the permit, all hell is let loose. It should not be that way.

When you get professional training, it lets you know surely what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.

Many things are being taught during the professional training session. One of them is the right positioning of the body. It has been certified that your posture when you are riding can make a big difference in whether you would live or die.

The professional riders place you in a controlled environment, say a track where you can practice without causing harm to others. The track is devoid of cars and potholes and gravel. They do not have a mad driver speeding at the devil’s speed.

Upgrade Your Motorbike

It is permitted to have features that would make you safer when you are using a motorcycle. You have to make changes.

If the tires that came with the motorcycle are worn out, you can change them. Perhaps the motorcycle was one that has already been used. You can change the tires and get new ones. The new tires would hold on to the ground more than old and worn-out ones. So, yea, you have to upgrade.

There are anti-lock brakes that can be installed to the wheels to help in braking and that you do not skid off the road during rides. They help you brake much faster; way better than the normal brake.

They also do not cost much. But even if they do, what is your life and safety compared to some bucks?

In the study that was conducted in the year 2013, by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycles with ABS were better off. The study was the “Effects of antilock braking systems on motorcycle fatal crash rates.”

In this study, Eric Teoh studied how motorbikes that had ABS differed as it concerns the safety of the rider with the motorbikes that did not have the ABS.

They watched 13 different motorcycle makes without the ABS and their counterparts with ABS. They let them move in the uncontrolled environment and tracked crashes and checking differences.

At the end of the study, it was found that there was a thirty-one percent decrease per ten thousand motorbikes when the bikes had ABS.

Wearing Protective Gear

Yeah, so we know you love your hair flying around in the wind. But let me tell you that riding a motorbike without the helmet is almost suicidal.

We have established that just mounting the motorbike is already a predisposition to danger. How much more someone who rides a bike without a helmet? The function of the helmet is to protect your head.

In the case of a crash and you get thrown off the bike, the helmet helps to protect your head from the harsh impact on the coal tar.

It is also said that in the case where you are at risk of a wheel squashing your head, the helmet serves to protect you too. This is because the surface of the helmet is smooth. So, it would cause the wheel to skid off instead of crushing your head.

Assume That The Other Driver Or Cyclist Is Not Seeing You

As mentioned earlier, whenever you are out on the road you observe safety rules. Not just for you but for others. Keep this in mind while you ride, that you are responsible for the other road user’s safety.

Assume that the others do not see you. So, take it easy. Most crashes are usually as a result of carelessness, neglect, and over-speeding. The latter is tempting no doubt but do not give in to that temptation.

Even when the next road user is misbehaving, let your first call be safety. You’ve heard better to be safe than sorry, right?

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Be Conscious Of Yourself And Your Environment

Whenever you mount a motorbike, your alertness should skyrocket. This is because the motorbike requires a lot of effort to ride. It takes a conscious effort to stay safe. First of all, you should be balanced on the motorbike.

It can be tricky when you have to slow down or navigate some kind of corners or bends. Sit casually and you may be thrown off balance.

Another thing you need to do is to make sure your head is into what you are doing. Mental effort is required. One millisecond of distraction can kill you or disable you for life. The motorcycle is not what you stay on to daydream. Keep your head clear and in the game.

Watch out for the road conditions. Cars are bigger and have the effect of potholes and bumps spread all over the body of the car.

On the other hand, a cyclist would feel every jolt, every bump. So, look before you leap, or in this case, ride.

Finally, there is no venture that does not have risks. Even being alive alone is a risk. Motorcycles may be dangerous, but it could be ridden in a safe way. Asides the structural shortcomings, the motorcycle is as safe as the person riding it.

How Dangerous Is Riding A Motorcycle – Related Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Safest Motorcycles To Ride?

The safest motorcycles to ride are:

  1. Yamaha: This motorcycle is the safest motorcycle. It has a failure rate of 10 percent. It is a very efficient and very good option for new bikers. It has fantastic braking and has a short seat that ensures the rider’s legs can reach the ground.
  2. Suzuki: The Suzuki is the second safest and has a failure rate of 11 percent. It has a windshield that is adjustable. It also has slip-resistant tires.
  3. Honda: Honda follows closely with a 12 percent failure rate. It has a powerful engine but a gentle throttle that allows the rider to get accustomed to the motorbike.
  4. Kawasaki: The Japanese powerhouse fails at 15 percent.
  5. Victory: This motorcycle has a 17 percent failure rate.

Are Full Face Motorcycle Helmets Safer?

Full face motorcycle helmets are safer. The helmets offer the best coverage than any other type of helmet. They cover the head and the neck.

They provide safety against the immediate environment in which you are riding in. During rainfall or sandstorms, they serve to shield your eyes from rain and sand.

Another factor that makes the full-face motorcycle helmets safer is the fact that they have chin bars. Chin bars help to protect the chin when there is an accident. 

When getting the full-face helmet, you should get one that is shell built. It is the safest to protect your head. Also, the impact absorber on the helmet helps to absorb some of the force of crashes.

What Are The Safest Motorcycle Jackets?

The safest motorcycle jackets are:

  1. Rocket Joe Atomic Textile Jacket: This jacket is the safest jacket. It has been on sale for the past twenty years. It is waterproof and can also serve as fantastic ventilation during the hot days of summer.
  2. Pilot Urban V2 Jacket: This jacket is not just safe but also affordable. It has a lot of pockets where you can put stuff like snacks and smartphones. It is also the prettiest on the list.
  3. Alpinestars Air Street Jacket: This jacket is made of leather and comes with armors that cover the chest, the arms, shoulders, and elbow.
  4. Klim Induction Mesh Jacket: Very good option to wear during summer. It is made from Kevlar fiber-the material used in making bulletproof vests.
  5. Joe Rocket Jacket:  This is also made of leather and lots of pockets.

Which Is More Dangerous: Riding A Horse Or A Motorcycle?

Riding a horse is more dangerous than riding a motorcycle. For every three hundred and fifty hours, a horse-riding accident occurs. The majority of the accidents leave the victim severely injured or dead.

Most horse riders are not fully clothed with protective gear and when they fall, head or spinal injuries can occur. Sometimes, even the helmet does not help.

When someone falls hard, the brain can hit the skull and damage. Seeing that a horse’s height is more than that of the motorcycle, the damage and danger is more.

Do You Need To Be Strong And Big To Ride A Motorcycle Safely?

You do not need to be strong and big to ride a motorcycle safely. This myth about riding a motorcycle has been perpetuated by the media even though it is untrue. What you need is the mental strength to handle a motorcycle and the discipline to adhere to traffic rules. 

There are also motorcycles of various sizes that any adult can comfortably ride. If for anything, motorcycle riding helps to increase your core strength. The maneuvers required in riding a motorcycle helps strengthen your abdominal muscles. It also helps strengthen the muscles of your knee.

Are Bigger Bikes Safer?

Bigger bikes are safer. This is because the bigger the bike, the easier it would be for other road users to see it. One of the main causes of motorcycle-car crashes is that the driver of the car did not see the cyclist on time, due to the size. But a bigger motorbike will be more visible.

Also, bigger motorcycles have better grip, stability, and response. The fat tires present in bigger motorcycles give them a firmer grip on the road. Also, the braking of a bigger motorbike is sharper.

This makes bigger bikes stop quicker than smaller bikes. Lastly, bigger motorcycles have bigger engine power and can move faster than smaller bikes.