While riding a motorcycle is almost always more fun than driving a car, it is always more dangerous. Motorcycle riders don’t have anything to protect them in crashes except for their helmets and other motorcycle gear, so they are extremely vulnerable to injury. There are never “fender benders” when a motorcycle is involved.

In 2019, more than 5,000 motorcyclists were killed and more than 84,000 were injured in crashes. In fact, going by miles traveled, motorcycle riders are 29 times more likely to die in a crash than someone driving or riding in a car. So does that mean people on motorcycles are more likely to be injured in crashes when going for long cruises down the highway, or on short trips near home?

WATCH: Out-of-State Crashes

To find the answer, we need to address two questions first.

How Do Motorcycle Crashes Happen?

People on motorcycles are more likely than people in cars to get into crashes with stationary objects in or along the road, including objects that have fallen off other vehicles. This may be because cars can often drive over small road debris, such as broken glass or shredded pieces of tire, without much trouble, while the same debris would cause a motorcycle to overturn.

However, most fatal motorcycle crashes (55%) are still crashes with other vehicles. And the majority (as much as two-thirds) of motorcycle crashes involving other vehicles are the fault of the driver of the other vehicle.

However, it is not enough to know who was involved in a crash. Riders also need to be aware of what types of crashes are most common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded the following data based on fatal crashes in 2019:

  • In 76% of fatal motorcycle crashes, the motorcycles were struck from the front, while only 7% were rear-end accidents.
  • 41% of fatal crashes involved a motorcycle going straight (with the right-of-way) when another vehicle struck them while turning left.

Related Reading: How to Make Yourself More Visible to Cars When on a Motorcycle

Where Do Motorcycle Crashes Happen?

According to the NHTSA’s CrashStats data report for 2019, 61% of fatal motorcycle crashes took place in urban areas, compared to 39% in rural areas. That seems to suggest highways are safer. However, only 34% of fatal crashes took place at intersections, while 66% took place at non-intersections, which may suggest highways are more dangerous.

To get a clearer picture, we need to look closer. The Federal Highway Administration describes six basic types of roads that make up all highways and non-highways. These are:


  • All interstates
  • All non-interstate freeways and expressways

13% of fatal motorcycle crashes take place on this type of road.


  • Principal arterial roads: These are generally any major non-interstate roads. They can be urban or rural, but most urban roads are this kind.
  • Minor arterial roads: These serve the same purpose as principal arterial roads but carry less traffic.
  • Collector roads: These roads connect “arterial” roads to local roads.
  • Local roads: Most streets that aren’t considered arterial roads can be considered local roads. They provide access through neighborhoods to homes.

87% of fatal motorcycle crashes take place on non-highways and more than twice as many fatal crashes occur on principal arterial roads (compared to crashes on local roads).

Speed Matters

Speed also plays a major part is how deadly a motorcycle crash can be: the faster you are going, the more likely you are to be severely or fatally injured in a crash. So it would make sense that highways are more dangerous, because their speed limits often range from 60-80 MPH, compared to 25-45 MPH on city streets and local roads.

However, one of the most well-known and comprehensive reports on motorcycle crashes found that less than 1 in 1,000 crashes happened at over 85 MPH. The median speed in a crash was actually just under 30 MPH! So most times it is not speed that is the culprit.

Fewer Motorcycle Crashes Happen on Highways

So why are highways safer when they have so much more traffic going so much faster? There are several reasons why this may be the case:

  • We now know that most fatal motorcycle crashes are head-on collisions, but highways have divided traffic, often with physical barriers between the opposing lanes.
  • Unlike the stop-and-go traffic on city and local roads, highway traffic usually flows at a steady and predictable pace.
  • Highways have more lanes than other types of roads, so motorcyclists have more space to maneuver around road debris or move away from reckless drivers.

After a Crash in Georgia or Alabama, You Need Gary Bruce

Highways may be safer than city streets when you’re on a motorcycle, but that doesn’t make them safe. Around here, most of our traffic is on the very roads which are found to be the most dangerous when the other driver makes a bad decision. But remember, motorcycle riders are always at risk whenever they exit their driveway or parking garage, especially from negligent drivers who are distracted or not looking out for others.

Worst of all, many insurance companies are biased against motorcycle riders and blame them for their own crashes. In fact, they believe that these cases can have less value. If you or someone you love is facing an insurance company who is denying their claim for compensation on the false idea they were at fault, we can help.

Contact our motorcycle crash injury lawyers today for a free case consultation.