Texas Motorcycle Accident Statistics
January 16th, 2018
Motorcycles are a popular mode of transportation and recreation, in Texas and around the country. Between 2006 and 2015, the number of registered motorcycles in the United States increased by more than 30%, to more than 8.5 million. Unfortunately, despite its many advantages, motorcycling is far more dangerous than traveling by car, truck, bus, or other more traditional motor vehicle. While motorcycles represent only about 1% of the miles traveled nationwide, they are responsible for about 14% of annual traffic deaths—up from just 5% in 1997.
Texas Motorcycle Accident Fatalities and Injuries
In 2016, 463 motorcyclists were killed on Texas roads. Another 33 passengers riding on motorcycles lost their lives, as well. 1,861 motorcycle riders and 147 passengers suffered incapacitating injuries, and thousands more suffered less serious injuries in motorcycle accidents.
To some degree, the dangers associated with riding a motorcycle can be mitigated by helmet use. However, nearly half of those killed and more than half of those injured in 2016 were wearing helmets. While this type of precaution minimizes certain risks, protective gear cannot fully compensate for the fact that a motorcyclist is exposed in a way that those in passenger cars and commercial vehicles are not. As a result, an accident that might be a minor fender-bender between two vehicles can be fatal for a motorcyclist.
Houston-Area Motorcycle Accidents
Although the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) does not break out motorcycle injuries and fatalities by county, Houston-area residents need only pick up a local newspaper or turn on the television news to see how common serious motorcycle accidents are in and around Houston. For example:
- In October, 2017, a motorcyclist was killed attempting to pass a bus on the Eastex Freeway.
- The following week, a motorcyclist was killed when he crashed into a car on the I-10 westbound.
- In early November, a motorcyclist was killed when he rear-ended a pickup truck on FM 1960.
- The same week, a motorcycle rider hit the back end of a Alief school bus; no children were injured, but the motorcyclist was killed.
- Thanksgiving weekend, a motorcyclist lost control of his bike and slid, fatally banging his head into the curb.
- The first weekend in December, a motorcyclist who was thrown into the air after hitting a utility pole was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
- In mid-December, a motorcyclist struck the right quarter panel of a car turning left in front of the bike and was killed.
- The day before Christmas Eve, a motorcyclist (who was wearing a helmet) was injured and his passenger (who was not wearing a helmet) was killed when the bike hit the guardrail and landed in a drainage ditch.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The examples above illustrate some of the most common types of motorcycle accidents. For example, nearly a quarter of fatal motorcycle accidents involve the motorcycle colliding with a fixed object, rather than a collision with another vehicle. About 40% of fatal motorcycle accidents that do involve a car or other type of vehicle occur while the other vehicle is making a left turn. Rear-end collisions also result in a significant percentage of serious injuries and fatalities for motorcyclists.
Safety Precautions for Motorcyclists and Other Drivers
The nature of the motorcycle makes it much easier for a rider to be thrown from the vehicle, and when a collision occurs, the rider’s body absorbs impact that is distributed by the protective cage around the passenger compartment of a car. Thus, it is critical that motorcyclists exercise care when riding, and that operators of other vehicles make a conscious effort to watch out for motorcycles and take precautions. Some simple ways to reduce the risk of serious injury or death include:
- Always wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, whether as the driver or a passenger
- Observing speed limits—about 1/3 of motorcyclists killed in traffic were speeding and other traffic safety regulations, including the limitation of one vehicle to a lane of traffic
- Leaving a sufficient buffer between a motorcycle and other vehicle, whether you are the motorcyclist or the driver of a passenger vehicle or commercial vehicle
- Never ride a motorcycle under the influence of alcohol—more than ¼ of motorcyclists killed in traffic accidents were intoxicated at the time
Help for Motorcycle Accident Victims
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation that will help you rebuild. You can learn more about your rights and options by visiting the Simmons and Fletcher motorcycle accident page or by calling 800-298-0111 for a free consultation regarding your case. Help is just a phone call away.
Paul Cannon has practiced personal injury trial law since 1995. He is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law (2005). He has earned recognition as a Super Lawyer by Thompson Reuters in 2017 & 2018, and as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association in 2017. He is a Shareholder, trial lawyer and online marketing manager at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. His legal writings have been published by the Texas Bar Journal, Business.com, Lawyer.com HG Legal Resources, Lawfirms.com, and others. He has been asked to give education talks and media interviews on dog bite law.