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 local Philly attorneys:

  • 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.

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