What Is A Major Cause Of Death In Motorcycle Accidents?

Cause Of Death In Motorcycle AccidentsBecause motorcycles are less stable and offer riders less protection than cars, motorcycle riders are up to 29 times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than in a car accident. In 2021, 50 motorcyclists died in accidents in New York City. One of the keys to improving your chance of surviving a motorcycle accident is to learn about the most common causes of death in motorcycle accidents and take steps to avoid them.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Crash Fatalities

The higher fatality rates experienced by motorcycle riders are a mix of the types and severity of injuries that occur and risks that are unique to riding a motorcycle.

Head Injuries

Severe head injuries are one of the most common causes of motorcycle crash deaths. Common head injuries that occur in motorcycle crashes include:

Wearing a helmet is one of the best things you can do to reduce this risk. Helmets can reduce your risk of death by 37% and your risk of brain injuries by 67%. New York State law requires all Manhattan motorcycle operators and passengers to wear motorcycle helmets that comply with U.S. Department of Transportation federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Internal Injuries

The force of an impact with the road, an object or another vehicle can cause serious internal injuries. Internal injuries are not always immediately apparent. Symptoms of internal injuries can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Bruising
  • Shock
  • Blood in the urine

If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Driving While Intoxicated

In 2020, 27% of all motorcycle crash deaths and 41% of single-vehicle crash deaths involved an intoxicated motorcycle driver. The best way to avoid this risk is to never consume alcohol or other intoxicating substances before driving a motorcycle.

Drivers are more likely to make poor driving decisions with a blood-alcohol content of 0.02%. In New York State, a BAC of 0.05% is legal evidence of impairment. A BAC of 0.08% is higher evidence of intoxication and a BAC of 0.18% is evidence of aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Unqualified and Inexperienced Drivers

In 2021, 75% of motorcyclists who died in New York City did not have an appropriate license and 70% were riding an unregistered motorcycle. Many of these were single-vehicle accidents involving drivers losing control of their vehicles and crashing into fixed objects while traveling at a high rate of speed.

Riders between the ages of 20 and 24 die at higher rates than other motorcycle riders. Training courses, such as those offered by the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program, can reduce accident risks for inexperienced riders.

Driving Too Fast

The faster you drive, the more difficult it is to control your motorcycle and the longer it takes to stop. Additionally, the increased force from higher-speed collisions can translate to more serious injuries. Driving too fast contributes to 34% of motorcycle fatalities. Speeding is a particular concern for riders in the 25 to 29 age group because 45% of their fatal crashes involve excessive speed.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions are relatively uncommon at just 2% of all motor vehicle collisions. However, they account for a disproportionate number of traffic deaths. The high forces generated by head-on collisions can eject riders from motorcycles leading to a high risk of fatalities.

Motorcycle Type

Standard motorcycles, cruisers, touring motorcycles and sport-touring motorcycles have the lowest fatality rates. Supersport and sport bikes have four times higher death rates than other types of bikes. Additionally, motorcycles with anti-lock braking systems are involved in 22% fewer fatal accidents than those without.

Motorcycles with 1,001-1,500 cc engines have higher fatal crash rates than motorcycles with lower-power engines. Lightweight, high-power motorcycles can travel at speeds of up to 160 miles per hour which can encourage risky driving behaviors. If you choose to ride a more powerful motorcycle it is important to drive safely and make sure you understand how to operate and control your vehicle.

Negligent Drivers

The negligence of other motorists causes the majority of fatal motorcycle accidents. Alcohol or drug use and speeding are the most common negligent driving behaviors.

Improper lane changing causes accidents because some drivers fail to properly check their blind spots before changing lanes and the narrower profile of motorcycles makes them more difficult for drivers to see. Motorcycle riders can not control the driving behavior of other drivers, but they can reduce accidents by driving defensively, staying sober, obeying the speed limit and rules of the road and avoiding riding in the blind spot of other vehicles.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

All motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries and deaths, but some types happen more often than others.

Car Doors

Car doors can be a particular danger for motorcycle riders in busy cities, such as Manhattan. Occupants of motor vehicles may fail to see motorcycles when opening their doors into traffic, leaving a rider without enough time to avoid a collision that could send the rider flying into the street.

Hazardous Road Conditions

Most motorcyclists avoid riding in winter weather conditions, but common road hazards, such as wet or uneven pavement or loose gravel, can cause motorcycle drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Loose gravel in corners can be particularly hazardous.

Dangerous Locations

At 61%, most motorcycle fatalities occur in urban areas and motorcycle riders in New York City are almost twice as likely to die compared to riders in the rest of the state. Interactions with pedestrians and other vehicles drive up motorcycle fatalities in densely populated cities and Manhattan is the most densely populated part of New York.

Almost half of all motorcycle accidents happen at intersections. Some of the most dangerous intersections in Manhattan include:

  • 2nd Ave & Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
  • Ludlow Street and Rivington Street
  • Madison Ave & E 85th St
  • 34th Street and 7th Avenue
  • Lexington Ave & E 85th St
  • 57th Street and 3rd Avenue

About 42% of all motorcycle crashes occur because of drivers of other vehicles who turn left in front of motorcycles. Motorcycle riders are also particularly vulnerable to rear-end collisions at stoplights and stop signs because motorcycles do not have bumpers to protect occupants from collisions.

Sudden Stops

Manhattan is notorious for its traffic jams. Motorcycles do not have safety belts. Sudden stops may eject riders from their motorcycles.

Design Defects

Defects in the manufacture or design of a motorcycle can make a rider more likely to lose control or have difficulty avoiding an accident. The manufacturer or designer of the motorcycle may be liable for deaths that occur because of defective motorcycles.

Lane Splitting

While advocates for the practice claim lane-splitting makes riders safer, it can lead to accidents, particularly on the narrow city streets of Manhattan. Drivers of cars do not expect motorcyclists to pass them in the lane they occupy and may not be watching for them. Additionally, lane splitting is illegal in New York.

Compensation for Motorcycle Deaths

If you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to obtain compensation. The experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Cellino Law can help. Contact us at 800-555-5555 to schedule a free evaluation.



Free Case Review



  • Mark Kochanowicz is from far the best attorney you can have. Mark treats you like a friend more than a client. He truly cares and go the extra mile for you and your case, contacts you to update you in regards to your case and keep you informed at all times. Mark represented me twice and settled my cases for way more than I expected. I highly recommend Mark Kochanowicz because he is just the best on what he does!!! Thank you Mark!!!!


  • Choosing the right attorney to represent you after an accident can make all the difference. This is no cliche. I recently experienced these words to live by first hand. After a tractor trailer rear ended me at high speed in 2017 I retained Allan Silverstein to handle my case. I quickly realized that bringing a lawsuit rapidly snowballs into a mountain of details that can make or break your results. Documents, case histories, doctor visits, bills, and lots of phone calls all need to be accurately kept track of if a successful outcome it to be attained. To complicate matters I reside in New York and the incident took place in New Jersey. Luckily, Allan was licensed in multiple states. I was fortunate to find Allan to handle this matter from the New York area. Armed with an accurate account of the facts Allan went to work on the difficult job of negotiating with the defending insurance company as well as my no fault carrier in order to obtain the best possible outcome for my set of circumstances. In a lawsuit communication is key and and events can be of a timely nature. Allan never failed to return my calls - usually the same day! He fought skillfully and respectfully to get me the best possible settlement. He is easy to deal with and a likeable down to earth guy. He always listened with compassion and respect to my issues. He guided me with objective understanding as well as a realistic analysis of the merits of my case. When we finally settled Allan got me a fair agreement beyond my expectations and negotiated with my doctors to make sure all my bills were paid. It was a great experience having Allan represent me. Quality work in any aspect of life is hard to find. Quality is what I got with Allan Silverstein. I highly recommend him if you find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney.


  • Tim Cellino handled my case beautifully. He is very knowledgeable and patient with all my questions. He kept in touch with me through out my ordeal. Tim also got a settlement for more than I expected. I highly recommend Tim Cellino!


  • This letter is to thank Ms. Diane D’Andrea, assistant to Mr. George Gridelli, Attny for all the hard work, dedication, and attentiveness she showed during the representation of my case. She was always cheerful and ready to help in whatever way she could. All messages left for Mr. Gridelli were always relayed and Mr. Gridelli always promptly returned our calls. She was a very competent assistant. Cellino Law has proven to be a model of what legal representation should be. Throughout the 6 ½ years of this case, I have heard many horror stories from people with “bad lawyer stories.” We consider ourselves to be very lucky to have chosen Cellino Law and will always recommend you to those looking for good, honest representation with a personal touch.


  • Thank you for your time, effort, and hard work on my case. I appreciate your expertise and compassion. I never experienced what I went through and I would have been completely lost without you.


  • I am writing to let you know what an outstanding job George Gridelli did for me in my personal injury lawsuit. His professionalism and expertise were evident at our first metting and he and his paralegal Diane D'Andrea took care of me as if I was a friend and not merely a client. They both went above and beyond for me in so many ways that it would be too numerous to list and I am grateful to have had such an exemplary team represent me. When working with George and watching him in court he personified to me what a lawyer is supposed to be - an honest, extremely compentent man who helped guide me through the legal system. I could not have obtained better representation anywhere else at any price. To me that says a lot abut you and your firm's integrity. Thank you again for representing me and for having such stellar individuals working for you! I will continue to recommend your firm.