New Study Finds Roads are 28 Times More Deadly for Motorcyclists


Motorcyclists form a unique and passionate community on our roads, but they also face unprecedented risks. A new research study revealed a shocking fact: motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in traffic crashes than occupants in passenger cars, constituting 14% of the total traffic fatalities while representing less than 3% of all registered vehicles. At OnderLaw, we’re dedicated to not only serving those who have been affected by such tragedies but also advocating for policies and infrastructure changes that can make the roads safer for everyone, including motorcyclists.

A History of Increasing Vulnerability

Unfortunately, despite efforts in training and education, motorcycle safety has deteriorated in the last two decades. Notably, the U.S. DOT reported that more motorcyclists were killed in 2020 than when data collection began in the 1970s. Two key studies, the “Hurt Study” in the U.S. and the “MAIDS” study in Europe, have driven much of the focus on education and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as helmets. However, these measures have not been enough.

Motorcycle fatalities have doubled from a low around 1994 to 2014, even as passenger car and light truck fatalities decreased by 34% in that same timeframe. This alarming trend highlights the urgent need for change.

Infrastructure Design: A Missing Link

The issue is not just about training or helmets; it’s about the entire ecosystem of road safety. Infrastructure plays a vital role. Countries like Australia, the UK, and even global organizations like WHO have guidelines specifically for motorcycle safety in road design. Sadly, the U.S. is lagging in this area.

  • Pavement Markings: States like Minnesota and Florida are working on high-friction markings to increase safety in critical areas for motorcyclists.
  • Work Zones: Montana DOT provides specific advisory signs for motorcycles in potentially dangerous work zones.
  • Intersections: Proper detection of motorcycles is vital, and Ohio DOT has made significant strides in this area.
  • Roadside Barriers: European standards have existed for over a decade, but the U.S. is just beginning to address this area, with states like Texas, North Carolina, Utah, and California testing motorcycle safety barriers.

Embracing Technology and Innovation

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Advanced Rider Assistance Systems (ARAS) are paving the way for safer roads. Features like anti-lock braking (ABS) and advanced curve warnings on motorcycles and connected vehicles of the future could potentially save hundreds of lives per year. We must embrace and accelerate these technological advancements.


The issue of motorcyclist safety is neither simple nor one-dimensional. It requires a holistic approach, encompassing education, infrastructure design, technology, and legislation. Motorcyclists are indeed vulnerable road users, and it’s high time that our infrastructure and policies reflect their unique needs and protect them.

We at OnderLaw believe in fighting for justice for victims, but more than that, we believe in preventing these tragedies from happening in the first place. Let’s work together to make our roads safer for everyone.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact OnderLaw today for your free, no-obligation consultation.