11 Motorcycle Accident Statistics in the UK: 2024 Update
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Motorcycles are popular because they offer freedom, cost less in petrol than cars, and can be more convenient to get around cities and built-up areas while offering the thrill that comes from riding country roads. However, with greater freedom comes greater risk and figures suggest that motorcyclists are up to 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than car drivers and that motorbikes are more dangerous than any other type of vehicle.
The number of accidents involving motorcyclists, and the subsequent number of fatalities and serious injuries, has been dropping over the past few years, however, potentially due to increased awareness initiatives and improved safety. During the Covid pandemic, it is likely that accident figures dropped significantly with fewer motorbikes and other vehicles on the road, but there had been a steady decline before the pandemic too.
Below are 11 statistics related to motorcycle accidents in the UK, including details on their causes and outcomes.
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The 11 Motorcycle Accident Statistics in the UK
- There are over 1.25 million registered motorcycles in the UK.
- 92% of motorcycle fatalities and seriously injured are males.
- An average of six motorcyclists die every week in the UK.
- Motorcycle fatalities fell 58% between 2004 and 2020.
- Bikers are 50 times as likely to die in an accident than car drivers.
- Motorbikes make up 1% of traffic on the road but account for nearly 20% of road deaths.
- 108 motorcycle riders are killed per billion miles travelled.
- Head injuries are the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
- The most dangerous day of the week to ride a motorcycle is Friday.
- Motorcycle collisions most often occur at T junctions.
- 80% of motorbike accidents occur as a result of another person’s negligence.
1. There are over 1.25 million registered motorcycles in the UK.
The number of motorcycles on the road has stayed roughly constant above 1.2 million since 2006. In 2020, 1.27 million registered motorbikes in the UK, compared to 1.25 million in 2019 and 1.24 million in 2018. In comparison, there were 31.7 million cars registered in 2020 which was a slight drop from the 31.9 million in 2019.
2. 92% of motorcycle fatalities and seriously injured are male.
Motorcycles remain more popular with males than females, and especially with younger males. Because there are more male riders, it is also more likely that accidents involving motorcyclists involve males. About 92% or more than 9 in every 10 motorbike fatalities and those seriously injured in a motorcycle accident are males.
3. An average of six motorcyclists die every week in the UK.
Between 2005 and 2020, an average of six motorcyclists were killed each week in accidents involving motorbikes. During the same period, a further 115 riders per week were seriously injured in reported accidents. Minor accidents are not reported and there may have been some accidents and injuries that were not reported during the period, for one reason or another.
4. Motorcycle fatalities fell 51% between 2004 and 2020.
Although the number of motorbikes on the road remained roughly similar during the period, the number of fatalities fell 51% from 585 in 2004 to 285 in 2020. During the same period, it is reported that motorcycle traffic fell by 22%, which may account for some of the reduction in fatalities. During the same period, serious injuries also reduced with 48% fewer in 2020 than in 2004.
5. Bikers are 50 times as likely to die in an accident than car drivers.
People are routinely warned that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car, and, sadly, the statistics do bear that fact. In fact, motorcyclists are 50 times more likely to die in an accident than car drivers, and per billion miles travelled, bikers are more likely to be involved in accidents than any other type of vehicle user.
6. Motorbikes make up 1% of traffic on the road but account for nearly 20% of road deaths.
In 2019, before traffic levels were affected by Covid shutdowns, motorcycles accounted for less than 1% of all traffic on the roads, but 19% of all road fatalities involved motorcyclists. Overall, 10% of all casualties involved in road accidents were motorcyclists and their passengers. This was a 4% drop from 2018, but still a high percentage considering how few bikes are on the road, compared to cars.
7. 108 motorcycle riders are killed per billion miles travelled.
One method that is often used to measure the danger of certain types of vehicles is the number of deaths per billion miles travelled. Pre-pandemic, there were 108 motorcyclist deaths per billion miles travelled. Just two car drivers, 29 cyclists, and 35 pedestrians are killed per billion miles.
8. Head injuries are the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
One of the reasons that motorcyclists suffer more fatalities and serious injuries is the lack of protection offered by the vehicle itself. Crash helmets offer a way to mitigate some of the potential injuries suffered but they aren’t always enough. Head injuries are still the most common cause of death in a motorcycle accident. Encased head injuries, in particular, are the most common.
9. The most dangerous day of the week to ride a motorcycle is Friday.
Motorcycle accidents can occur any day of the week and any time of the day. However, accident statistics show that Friday is the day that most motorbike accidents occur. They also show that the most dangerous time to travel by motorbike is between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm, which is when the evening rush hour occurs.
10. Motorcycle collisions most often occur at T junctions.
Although many people might expect motorcycle accidents to be most common on country roads, the most common place for accidents involving motorcycles to occur is at or immediately near a T junction. Such accidents can occur when other road users fail to notice motorbikes or because they do not give the motorcyclist enough room or space.
11. 80% of motorbike accidents occur as a result of another person’s negligence.
Motorcyclists aren’t necessarily to blame for the accidents in which they’re involved, and figures suggest this is true. Roughly 80% of motorbike accidents occur because of other people’s negligence. This can include cars pulling out in front of oncoming bikes and not giving enough room to motorcyclists.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Safe Are Motorcycles?
Statistically, you are more likely to be involved in an accident if you ride a motorcycle than if you drive a car, ride a bike, or walk. However, you can mitigate some of the potential dangers by ensuring that you wear good riding gear and a proper helmet.
What Do You Legally Have to Wear on a Motorbike?
There are no laws governing what clothing you have to wear on a motorbike, except that you must wear a safety helmet that meets appropriate safety standards. There are no rules to dictate that you have to wear a motorbike jacket or any other safety clothing.
Are Motorbikes Safe in London?
About 47% of motorbike accidents in the UK occur in London, which means that it is statistically the area where you are most likely to have an accident. However, thousands of people ride motorbikes without incident every day in the city.
Are Half Helmets Legal in the UK?
Half helmets naturally provide less protection than full motorcycle helmets, but they do still offer some protection for the top of the head, and they can help prevent some brain injuries. Half helmets are legal in the UK, as long as they meet British safety standards.
How Often Should You Change Motorcycle Helmet?
Motorcycle helmets can be worn down over time and with exposure to UV and other elements. If there are any signs of visible damage to a helmet, you should always change it, and if you have been involved in an accident and the helmet was knocked or scraped, you should consider changing it then, too. A helmet can fracture: the fracture might not be visible, but it will compromise the protective shell. Generally, you should replace a helmet every five years, perhaps more often if you ride regularly and cover long distances.
There are more than 1.2 million registered motorcycles in the UK. They are popular because they offer more convenience around towns and cities and can cost less in petrol. They’re also considered more exciting. However, statistics show that you are more likely to be seriously injured in a motorcycle accident than if you drive a car, and motorcycle fatalities are much more common by number of users or distance covered than with any other type of vehicle.
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