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13 Motorcycle vs Car Accident Statistics in the UK (2024 Update)

motorcycle accident and car crash

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

There is a significantly greater number of cars on UK roads compared to motorbikes, but a greater percentage of bikers are involved in accidents. Cars offer protection from the elements while the metal shell can also protect against some of the potential injuries that would be incurred in accidents.

Motorbikes, although preferred by their owners for the sense of freedom as well as their convenience of getting through congested traffic, do not afford their users the same protection. Unfortunately, fatalities are more likely in motorbike accidents, too, with the most common cause of fatality being a head injury.

While driving a car isn’t completely risk-free and riding a motorbike doesn’t guarantee an accident, the statistics do bear out the fact that cars tend to be a safer means of transport than motorbikes.

Click below to jump ahead:

car and road divider

Top 13 Motorcycle Vs Car Accident Statistics in the UK

  1. There are more than 32 million registered cars on UK roads.
  2. There are 1.3 million registered motorbikes on UK roads.
  3. Someone is killed or seriously injured every 16 minutes on UK roads.
  4. Approximately 300 billion vehicle miles were driven on UK roads in 2020.
  5. There were more than 10,000 serious injuries and deaths as a result of car accidents in 2021.
  6. More than 5,000 injuries a year are caused by drunk driving.
  7. There were 16,000 minor, serious, and fatal injuries in 2019 as a result of motorbike accidents.
  8. Over 2% of motorbike casualties result in a fatality, compared to less than 1% of car casualties.
  9. Head injuries are the most common cause of motorbike accident fatalities.
  10. 80% of motorbike accidents occur because of somebody else’s negligence.
  11. Fractures tend to be the most common type of motorbike crash injury.
  12. Bikers are 50 times more likely to die than drivers.
  13. Despite making up just 1% of road traffic, motorbikes account for 20% of road fatalities.
UK_MOTORCYCLE_VS._CAR_ACCIDENT_FACTS_&_STATISTICS
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car and road divider

Total Traffic and Road Statistics

1. There are more than 32 million registered cars on UK roads.

(Statista)

The UK’s roads are getting busier, although there was a slight decrease in the number of registered cars on UK roads in 2020 as a result of the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns that occurred throughout the nation. There were 31.7 million registered cars in the UK in 2020, compared to the record 31.9 million registered cars in 2019. The number of registered cars has increased every year since 2000, so it seems likely that the number would have reached 32 million if the pandemic had not occurred. There have been no full annual results published after the pandemic to compare.

traffic jam
Image Credit: al-grishin, Pixabay

2. There are 1.3 million registered motorbikes on UK roads.

(Statista)

Motorbike numbers increased in 2020, compared to 2019, despite annual motorcycle registrations being a lot more erratic. There were 1.27 million registered motorbikes in 2020 compared to 1.25 million in 2019. This increase likely occurred as people viewed motorbikes as being a more convenient means of transport and also because of the increase in petrol prices.

Motorbikes consume less petrol per mile, on average, which means that owners could have been looking for ways to save money. In 2000, there were fewer than a million registered motorcycles on the country’s roads.


3. Someone is killed or seriously injured every 16 minutes on UK roads.

(Brake)

Taking into account all types of accidents involving all vehicle types, somebody is killed or seriously injured every 16 minutes on UK roads. This uses an average of figures between 2012 and 2021, so while it will have been affected by lockdowns, it still represents a realistic outlook of annual figures. In 2021, more than 1,600 people died on the roads, and a further 27,000 suffered serious injuries.

motorcycle and car accident
Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

4. Approximately 300 billion vehicle miles were driven on UK roads in 2021.

(Department for Transport)

The pandemic caused major changes in traffic levels and road usage figures. When the whole country wasn’t in lockdown, there were isolated local lockdowns, and for most of the pandemic, people were encouraged to work from home whenever possible.

As a result of this, vehicles drove 300 billion vehicle miles. Although this is still a large number and an 11.9% increase compared to 2020, it is more than 12% compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

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Car Accident Statistics

5. There were more than 10,000 serious injuries and deaths as a result of car accidents in 2021.

(Brake)

Car accident injuries and fatality figures include drivers and passengers in cars and motorbikes, as well as cyclists, pedestrians, and commercial vehicle users. Of the nearly 30,000 fatalities and serious injuries that occurred in the UK in 2021, 10,000 of those injuries were sustained by car occupants, including drivers and passengers.

Moped Accident close up
Image Credit: Canetti, Shutterstock

6. More than 5,000 injuries a year are caused by drunk driving.

(Nimble Fins)

Drunk driving remains a problem on UK roads, although the number of fatalities and injuries caused by alcohol has declined between 2015 and 2020. In 2015, there were 137 fatalities as a result of drunk driving. In 2020, this number dropped to 109.

car and road divider

Bike Accident Statistics

7. There were 16,000 minor, serious, and fatal injuries in 2019, as a result of motorbike accidents.

(Hudgell Solicitors)

A fatal injury results in death while a major injury could lead to a permanently diminished quality of life. Minor injuries, although they can still be painful, do not pose any threat to life or quality of life. In 2019, the last year before the pandemic, there were more than 16,000 injuries of all types, resulting from motorcycle accidents.

motorcycle and car accident
Image Credit: osobystist, Shutterstock

8. Over 2% of motorbike casualties result in a fatality compared to less than 1% of car casualties.

(Hudgell Solicitors)

In 2019 and 2018, 2.1% of all motorbike casualties proved fatal, resulting in the loss of 690 lives over the two years. In comparison, less than 1% of casualties in car accidents proved fatal. In fact, the percentage of car accident casualties that resulted in death has not been above 0.8% in the past 10 years.


9. Head injuries are the most common cause of motorbike accident fatalities.

(Motorbike Claims)

Despite crash helmets being a legal requirement for motorcyclists in the UK and advancements in motorcycle crash helmet technology, head injuries remain the most common cause of motorbike fatalities.

The most common head injury is a closed head injury. A closed head injury occurs when the accident causes the brain to move around inside the skull, leading to direct brain injury and damage to tissue.

motorcycle accident
Image Credit: Godlikeart, Shutterstock

10. 80% of motorbike accidents occur because of somebody else’s negligence.

(Motorbike Claims)

When it comes to the cause of the accidents themselves, more than three-quarters of all motorbike accidents happen as a result of somebody else’s negligence. This includes drivers pulling out of junctions without giving right of way to approaching motorcycles, and to vehicles turning and knocking motorcycles over.


11. Fractures tend to be the most common type of motorbike crash injury.

(Motorbike Claims)

A fracture is a break, and any bone in the body can get broken, especially following a bad road accident. Motorcyclists are especially prone to leg and arm breaks. According to one study, more than a quarter of injuries occurring after motorcycle accidents are fractures to bones.

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Car vs. Bike Accident Statistics

12. Bikers are 50 times more likely to die than drivers.

(Hudgell Solicitors)

Deaths per billion miles travelled are considered to give a more accurate reflection of the dangers associated with different types of travel. Over 100 motorcycle riders are killed for every billion miles travelled compared to just two car drivers, which means that bikers are 50 times more likely to die than car drivers. For comparison, 29 cyclists die per billion miles and 35 pedestrians.

man on the road after fatal car and motorcycle accident
Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock

13. Despite making up just 1% of road traffic, motorbikes account for 20% of road fatalities.

(Begin Motorcycling)

Despite lockdowns and there being considerably less traffic on the roads in 2020, there were still 258 bikers that lost their lives as a result of road accidents. This accounts for 20% of all road fatalities, despite motorbikes only making up less than 1% of all road traffic.

car and road divider Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Vs Car Accidents in the UK

Are Motorbikes More Dangerous Than Cars?

A car is essentially a metal shell that houses the components of the car and its occupants. Although injuries can and do still occur, cars are generally much safer than motorbikes. Considering the number of fatalities per mile travelled, motorcyclists are 50 times more likely to be killed than car drivers, and are also more likely to suffer injuries, whether minor or major.

Unfortunately, with third-party negligence being the primary cause of motorcycle accidents, it doesn’t matter how cautiously a motorcyclist rides or the precautions they take, either. It may not be enough to guarantee that they won’t be involved in an accident.

wounded man due to car accident
Image Credit: ales_kartal, Pixabay

What Is the Most Common Injury in Motorbike Accidents?

Because the limbs and extremities of motorcyclists are exposed and can come into contact with other vehicles and the roads, the most common type of injury resulting from a motorcycle crash is bone fractures. When it comes to the most common fatal injury, closed brain injuries are the biggest killer, and these cause the brain to shake violently inside the skull.

Do You Legally Have to Wear a Helmet When Riding a Motorbike?

It is a legal requirement that all riders in the UK wear a helmet, and it must meet British Safety Standards. This is true whether riding a motorcycle, scooter, or moped, regardless of age or rider experience. However, there are no legal requirements to wear any other safety gear or safety clothing.

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Conclusion

Motorcycle and car accidents can prove fatal, but motorcycle riders are more likely to suffer serious injury and bikers are, according to some figures, 50 times more likely to die than car drivers. Wearing a helmet can help protect riders and passengers, but even this precaution may not be enough. And, as roads have opened up following pandemic lockdowns, crash and fatality figures will likely rise again after lower figures in previous years.

See also: 10 Power Tool Injury Statistics in the UK


Featured Image Credit: DedMityay, Shutterstock

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