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Motorcycle Accident Statistics in New York
Motorcycle accidents are more dangerous than collisions between cars. Not only can motorcycles be more difficult to spot because they are smaller in size, they also do not offer the same safety features that cars do, which makes them less likely to withstand a crash. Motorcyclists are often ejected from the vehicle during the collision, causing a direct impact to their body. As a result, motorcycle-related injuries can be life-threatening.
New York Motorcycle Statistics
New York State
In 2018, there were 344,688 registered motorcycles in New York and 751,837 motorcycle licenses. This means that at any time, there could be thousands of motorcycles on the road. In 2018, there were 3,827 motorcyclists injured in crashes. A few high-risk counties make up the majority of these crashes. In 2018, the five high-risk counties accounting for about 53% of crashes were:
- New York
Though the state is taking steps to improve motorcycle safety through outreach, education, and enforcement, the problem of motorcycle collisions persists, and those who are injured deserve to receive compensation for their injuries, property damage, or, in the worst cases, death.
New York City, being one of the highest-risk locations to drive a motorcycle in the state, has a much higher fatal crash rate – almost double – than the rest of the state. According to the New York City Motorcycle Safety Study, while only two percent of vehicles in NYC are motorcycles, motorcyclists constituted 14 percent of fatalities.
New York City
New York City motorcycle crashes almost always involve younger males, and most crashes occur during the summer, and during nighttime or twilight hours when visibility is impaired. Unfortunately, in about half of the cases where the motorcyclist was killed, the driver was not licensed to drive the motorcycle.
Regardless of where, when, or who was involved in the crash, victims of motorcycle accidents should contact an experienced motor vehicle attorney to see if they might be entitled to compensation for their injury.
Motorcycle Rules in New York
Beyond the rules of the road that apply to every driver, there are special rules in New York governing how to operate a motorcycle, both for the driver’s safety and the safety of others.
First, a motorcycle driver must sit on the regular seat and not carry others on the back unless the motorcycle was designed for multiple passengers. You must also be sitting properly on the seat, facing forward unless you are riding in a sidecar. You must also not carry anything that would prevent you from keeping both of your hands on the wheel. Finally, avoid any position that obstructs your control of the motorcycle. Finally, New York requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all motorcycle requirements, but rather just a few important ones. There are many other regulations applicable to motorcycle operators.
Though these rules may seem basic, they are also important because in the event of a collision, you will want to make sure to show you were following all of the rules of the road – and therefore did not cause the accident. In New York, the concept of contributory negligence may apply in the case of a motorcycle accident. Contributory negligence means that determining who was at fault for the accident is not always black and white – sometimes the fault can be shared between the parties. If the victim of the accident was found to have been behaving unlawfully or recklessly, the amount they can recover in damages may be diminished.
For example, after a motorcycle accident, the other party may try to say that the driver of the motorcycle contributed to his own injuries by failing to take reasonable precautions, such as by standing up while driving or carrying another passenger on their seat. If the motorcyclist was found to be violating the rules of the road, this could be strong evidence against them.
Helmets are critically important to motorcyclists’ safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets reduce a driver’s risk of dying in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent. Helmets also drastically reduce the likelihood of traumatic brain injuries.
Antilock braking systems (ABS) are also an important preventive measure that motorcyclists should consider. Motorcycles equipped with ABS produce 31 percent fewer fatal crashes than those that aren’t equipped. Finally, the NHTSA advises that certain models of motorcycles, such as Supersport motorcycles, are inherently more dangerous because they are lightweight and high-power.
Like cars, registered motorcycles must carry a minimum amount of liability insurance in New York. A motorcycle insurance policy will not only cover damage to the vehicle, but will also probably cover medical expenses or lost wages of others involved in the accident if you are found to be at fault. It may also include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage if the other party to the accident does not have insurance.
Motorcycles are different from other motor vehicles, however, in that they are excluded from New York’s “No-Fault” benefits. New York is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means what it sounds like – the insurance company typically pays out damages for injuries regardless of who was at fault. However, motorcyclists are excluded from this policy, meaning that you are not automatically entitled to insurance coverage for your injuries if you are hurt while riding a motorcycle.
Motorcycles hold a special place on the road. While they are fun and fuel-efficient, they can be very dangerous for drivers, especially those without helmets or training. If you have been injured in a motorcycle collision, it is in your interest to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to help you navigate the complicated world of insurance and potentially even litigation.
 N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 1251(a)-(d) (Consol., Lexis Advance through 2020 released Chapters 1-56, 59-127)
 N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 381(6) (Consol., Lexis Advance through 2020 released Chapters 1-56, 59-127)