California Motorcycle Accident Statistics 2008

2008 wasn’t a great year for motorcyclists in California, continuing an increasing trend in accidents and fatalities coupled with a large increase in registered motorcycles over the past several years. Fortunately the first half of 2009 has broken the trend and saw a greatly reduced number of fatalities vs. the same period in 2008, so let’s hope the trend continues.  Here are some interesting statistics from the California Office of Traffic Safety’s California Traffic Safety Report Card for 2008.

  • Motorcycle fatalities continued to spiral upward from 518 in 2007 to 560 in 2008.** Motorcycle fatalities have increased 10 consecutive years and are at their highest level since 1990.
  • Total motorcycle registrations increased 7% from 772,524 in 2007 to 824,244 in 2008. (DMV)
  • In 2008, the under age 20 age group had the largest increase in motorcycle fatalities (up 57% from 13 in 2007 to 30 in 2008 with the second highest increase seen in the over age 59 age group which increased 44% percent from 32 in 2007 to 57 in 2008.**
  • In 2008, 37% of motorcycle operators killed were not properly licensed – up from 36% in 2007.**
  • Between 2002-08, 60% of motorcycle operators killed under age 25 were unlicensed.**
  • Of the 560 motorcyclists killed, at least 12% (68) were un-helmeted. Since helmets are about 39% effective in preventing fatalities, NHTSA estimates that 26 of the 68 un-helmeted motorcyclists killed would have survived had they worn a helmet.**
  • In 2008, 70% of motorcycle operators killed were at fault and 58% of motorcycle operators injured were at fault.*
  • The percent of motorcycle operators killed with a BAC =.08+ increased from 24% in 2007 to 26% in 2008.**
  • Super sport motorcycles, defined as consumer versions of the motorcycles used by factory racing teams, account for 14% of the registered motorcycles in California, yet the 211 super sport drivers and passengers killed in 2008 accounted for 38% of the 560 motorcyclists killed in California.**
  • Between 2002-08, 44% of Super Sport motorcycles that were fatally crashed were less than a year old, compared to 37% Other Sport, 28% Cruiser, and, 34% Touring motorcycles.**
  • Between 2002-08, 44% of Super Sport riders killed were not properly licensed, compared to 32% Other Sport, 24% Cruisers and 19% Touring motorcycles.**
  • Between 2002-08, 86% of Super Sport motorcycle fatal crashes were “speed related”, compared to 57% Other Sport, 40% Cruisers, and 39% Touring motorcycles.**
  • Between 2002-08, 66% of Super Sport motorcycle operators killed were between age 21-34.**

*Data Source – Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS)
**Data Source – Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)

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