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What percentage of
motorcyclists die?


Road safety statistics | Motorcycle fatalities | Bike accidents | Risk | PTWs


Motorcycle fatality statistics



"What percentage of motorcyclists die?". We must confess that we're being a bit mischievous with this question. That's because we stumbled on another page on the web making this enquiry, and we felt it needed addressing more comprehensively/intelligently.


Firstly, the simple answer is that 100 percent of motorcyclists die. Ditto for any other social group or individual on the planet. The world's scientists haven't yet invented a crash helmet able to protect bikers from the grim reaper who, sooner or later, on the highway or elsewhere, will be looking to collect his due.


But that helmet is probably coming...


Of course, the underlying question on the aforementioned web page (see image immediately above) is: What percentage of motorcyclists die on the road? And unless you're a statistician, or transport planner, or a politician (etc) that's actually something of a moot question.


And here's why...


Whilst you can look at the stats and work out that, say, bikers are ten times more likely to die on the road than car drivers, or five times more likely, or whatever number you dredge up from the actuarial tables and whatnot, the figures mask another truth.


Even if motorcyclists overall were/are ten times more likely to die on the road than car drivers, that figure doesn't necessarily apply to any one individual. But many people, not least the politicians and transport planners, fail to understand the nature of statistical risk.


In reality, some bikers might be so dangerous on the road that they're 100 times more likely to get killed. Meanwhile, other bikers might be so switched on and fit and alert that their risk of getting killed on the road is ten times less than the risk for car drivers. That is to say, average car drivers.


Motorcycles, after all, might well have less protection in the event of a crash, but motorcyclists have better all-round visibility and therefore often avoid issues that catch out other road users. Bikes generally also have a better power-to-weight-ratio and can accelerate from dangerous situations. Bikers also tend to be more aware. Bikers generally read the road better than the average motorist. And motorcycles often slip through hazards that trap car users.


In other words, average risk figures have very little to say about the risk to individual bikers or individual car drivers.


It's an important point, because when these road safety stats are routinely published/bandied about in the press and elsewhere, the authorities tend to believe that by introducing new safety rules across the board, they're seriously addressing the problem.


Whereas, it actually makes more sense to understand the nuances of the stats and focus on helping specific groups who are at the greatest risk; i.e. youngsters, sports bike riders, oldsters, taller bikers, shorter bikers, or whatever. And even then, there will always be individuals in any group that carry a significantly higher or lower risk of injury or death on the road. And then, of course, there's ordinary luck/bad luck to consider.


Ultimately, the only real issue that bikers have to address is: How do we reduce our personal risk on the road, or anywhere elseóbearing in mind that without a certain amount of risk, many or most of us would fail to get any pleasure out of whatever life we have?


The bottom line? Keep one eye on the stats, and the other on the truth. Now read our page on defensive riding tips.







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