Motorcycle Accidents on the Rise in Philadelphia

According to new data, motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania are higher than they have been in three years. It’s a well known fact that motorcycles are inherently less stable, less visible and offer less protection than a traditional motor vehicle. They are a popular and an economic means of transportation in the city of Philadelphia, the meandering roads and narrow city streets make motorcycles a practical choice to get around. Knowing the trends and being aware of road dangers, fatality rates and taking safety precautions can help keep riders safe.

According to the Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyers at Anapol Weiss, motorcycle accidents commonly occur when:

  • Motorcycle parts malfunction
  • Passenger vehicle drivers fail to see motorcyclists
  • There’s roadway hazards, including loose gravel, construction zones or standing water that prevent motorcycles from maintaining balance
  • Motorcyclists or cars engage in reckless behavior that causes an accident

A Look at the Most Recent Motorcycle Statistics in Philadelphia:

  • In 2016, there were 3,454 motorcycle accidents.
  • Across most age groups and all vehicle accidents, 3 out of 4 drivers in crashes were male
  • 192 of these accidents were fatal
  • 174 deaths were drivers, while 18 were passengers
  • 3,321 riders were injured
  • Total motorcycle crashes increased 1.2% from 2015
  • Fatal motorcycle accidents increased 7.3% from 2015
  • Of those deaths, 49% were not wearing a helmet

According to Data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “A total of 4,976 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2016. Motorcyclist deaths had been declining since the early 1980s but began to increase in 1998 and continued to increase through 2008. Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2016 and were more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.”

Although there has been a shallow decline in the number of deaths throughout the years, new observations show 2016 hit an 8 year high for both motorcycle vehicle crashes and passenger vehicle occupant deaths.

Driver Involvement in Alcohol Related Crashes

According to the most recently released national data, in 2016 motorcyclists had the largest percentage of drinking drivers to total drivers compared to drivers in other vehicles. Drunk drivers on motorcycles accounted for 7.7% of total crashes.

  • 26% of fatally injured motorcyclists had a Blood Alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit (0.08%)
  • 37% of drivers were above the legal limit in single vehicle crashes
  • 47% of motorcycle drivers were killed at night or in the early morning hours (9 p.m – 6 a.m) and had BAC’s at or above the legal limit

Motorcycle Type and Engine Size a Variable Factor

According to the report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it’s possible there is a direct correlation between engine size and motorcycle accidents. A look at the numbers reveals 33% of motorcyclists killed in 2016 had engines larger than 1,400 CC. This is compared to 9% in 2000 and less than 1% in 1990.

The majority of fatal motorcycle accidents across the nation in 2016 occurred on a Touring bike with an engine larger than 1,400 CC. Among the fatally injured, 96% of touring bike drivers were 30 or older. Additionally, 84% of standard bike riders were 30 and over.

engine type and motorcycle type a variable factor in accidents


In 2017, there was 845,977 registered motorcyclists on the road in Pennsylvania. Motorcycles are a cost efficient and enjoyable form of transportation. It’s unfortunate that these accidents are inevitable on the streets of Philadelphia. However, wearing a helmet, avoiding riding at night and using proper safety gear that keeps you visible and safe can greatly contribute to staying safe on the roads. In addition, traveling at safe speeds and using proper turn signals can benefit all pedestrians, bicyclists and cars on the road. Practicing safe and responsible riding will keep Philly roads safer.


Crashes Involving Hand-held Phones On The Rise In Pennsylvania

Research from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows that the number of fatalities involving Pennsylvania drivers using hands-free or hand-held phones has climbed in recent years. This data shows that drivers who used hand held devices are in more accidents than those who use hands free. This is because hands free devices give the driver more control over the wheel and place more emphasis on focusing on the road.

This numbers also places emphasis on current Pennsylvania phone laws that do not prohibit the use of handheld cell phone use behind the wheel.
Hand held crashes are much more common all over the country and place drivers is a more vulnerable, distracted state. According to the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Anapol Weiss and data reported by PennDot, every day at least three people die from car accidents in Pennsylvania and there are approximately 15 crashes reported per hour. They explain negligence, such as driving while talking on the phone or texting is directly related to the high number of traffic accidents each year in both Pennsylvania urban and rural areas.

Counties in Pennsylvania with the most amount of hand-held crashes and fatalities include:

Pennsylvania Counties With Hand-Held Crash Stats 2016

A Closer Look at the Data

  • Allegheny had one hand-held related fatal accidents and 632 crashes
  • Montgomery had two hand-held related fatalities and 396 total crashes
  • Philadelphia had only one hand-held related fatality and 336 total crashes

Luckily, these types of crashes are generally “fender-bender” crashes that involve very minor injuries. Although the fatality rate for hand held crashes are low, it still doesn’t mean they’re safe. Hand-held or hands-free car accidents can be extremely dangerous, costly, and can cause major traffic delays. A closer look at the data shows an increase in  hand-held phones and hands-free phone accidents every year:

Hands free phones statistics 2016

Hand Held Phone Statistics Pennsylvania 2016

Pennsylvania Cell Phone Laws

Conventional wisdom and the Pennsylvania texting-while-driving  ban prohibits any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device to send, read or write a text message while your vehicle is in motion:

  • Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smartphone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.
  • Defines a text-based communication as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.
  • Institutes a $50 fine for convictions under this section.
  • Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.

The state of Pennsylvania currently does not prohibit the use of hand-held phones but does prohibit IWCD’s (Interactive Wireless Communication Device). An IWCD prohibits reading, sending or surfing the web on your phone and includes wireless phones, portable or mobile tablets and computers. Having a ban on hand-held phones can positively impact collision rates according to a study conducted in 2012 by the University of California, Berkeley. The study analyzed driving accidents in California during the first four years California’s hand-held ban was in place.

Their study found:

  • Traffic deaths dropped 22%
  • Death among hands-free drivers dropped at a similar rate
  • Deaths blamed on drivers using handheld phones went down and by 47%
  • The number of physical injuries in the state declined overall and the ban ultimately resulted in less distracted drivers on the road.

Although hand held phone laws are not currently implemented in Pennsylvania, a closer examination of the facts can demonstrate that any phone activity behind the wheel is dangerous and can result in a yearly increase in accidents and fatalities.