Fatalities-> NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)
Miles-Traveled-> Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Population-> US Census Bureau
-Car Occupants, including both drivers and passengers riding in cars, are called “Motorists.”
-Motorcycle Occupants, including both drivers and passengers riding upon motorcycles, are called “MOTORCYCLISTS.”
-Motorist, Car Driver, and Car Crash fatally injured persons are the comparison groups for Motorcyclist, Motorcycle Driver, and Motorcycle Crash fatally injured persons.
-Motorcycle Crash Fatalities, include both motorcyclists and others fatally injured in motorcycle crashes, such as pedestrians.
–Motorcyclist Danger is per Person (motorcyclist) Miles-Traveled.
–Motorcycle Driver Danger is per Vehicle (motorcycle) Miles-Traveled. (One Driver per Vehicle, for now.)
–Motorcycle Societal Danger is Motorcycle Crash Fatalities (everybody killed) per Population (everybody), and understanding and managing Societal Danger is a proper goal of government.
1. Occupant Fatalities: Persons in or on a Vehicle-in-Transport
1A. Current Motorcyclist Fatalities
1B. Historical Charts and Tables, Motorcyclist Fatalities
1C. Motorcyclist Danger
2. Driver Fatalities: Persons in or on, and operating, a Vehicle-in-Transport.
2A. Current Motorcycle Driver Fatalities
2B. Historical Charts and Tables, Motorcycle Driver Fatalities
2C. Motorcycle Driver Danger and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)
3. Crash Fatalities: Includes Every Person (Everybody) fatally injured, who was and was not riding in or on a Vehicle-In-Transport. This includes Drivers, Passengers, Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and every other person fatally injured in crashes on public roads.
3A. Current Motorcycle Crash Fatalities
3B. Historical Charts and Tables, Motorcycle Crash Fatalities
3C. DangerOmeter! A Measure of Societal Danger by State
DATA SET 1: Occupant Fatalities:
Persons in or on a Vehicle-in-Transport
1A: Current Motorcyclist Fatality Data:
4,976 motorcyclists were fatally injured in 2015.
2015 Motorcyclist Fatalities, by State (Alphabetical)
1B. Historical Charts and Tables, Motorcyclist Fatalities:
1C: Motorcyclist Danger:
-Motorcyclists accounted for 17% of all occupants killed in 2015.
A total of 28,671 vehicle occupants and motorcyclists were killed in 2015, of which 4,976 (17%) were motorcyclists.
-Motorcyclists accounted for only 0.5% of all miles ridden in/on all motor vehicles (which include motorcycles) in 2015.
All Motor Vehicle occupants (which include motorcyclists) rode a total of 4,494,454 Million Miles in 2015, of which 21,118 Million Miles (0.5%) were Motorcyclist-Miles.
-Motorcyclist Relative Danger: In 2015 in the USA, there were 40 times more motorcyclists killed than passenger vehicle occupants per Person-Mile.
Motorcyclist Fatalities per 100 Million Motorcyclist-Miles = 23.6
Motorist (Passenger Vehicle) Fatalities per 100 Million Motorist-Miles = 0.586
NOTE – To convert from 40 per Person-Mile to 27 per Vehicle-Mile: Cars carry more, and more often carry, passengers. The occupancy rate of cars is about 1.5 times the occupancy rate of motorcycles. This can be used to calculate the per vehicle relative danger of 27 times as published by NHTSA. You may obtain occupancy rates by the ratio of Person-Miles-Traveled and Vehicle-Miles-Traveled from Table VM-1. Go To Federal Highway Administration Website: 2014-2015 FHWA Table VM-1 : Person-Miles-Traveled is near the bottom of the rows on the table.
DATA SET 2: Driver Fatalities:
Persons in or on, and operating, a Vehicle-in-Transport.
2A: Current Motorcycle Driver Fatalities:
4,684 motorcycle drivers (and 289 motorcycle passengers) were fatally injured in 2015.
2B: Historical Charts and Tables, Motorcycle Driver Fatalities:
2C: Motorcycle Driver Danger:
-Motorcycle drivers accounted for 21% of all drivers killed in 2015.
A total of 22,150 motor vehicle drivers (including motorcycle drivers) were killed in 2015, of which 4,684 (21%) were motorcycle drivers.
-Motorcycle drivers accounted for only 0.63% of all vehicle miles ridden in/on all motor vehicles (which include motorcycles) in 2015.
All Motor Vehicle drivers (which include motorcycle drivers) rode a total of 3,095,373 Million Vehicle Miles in 2015, of which 19,606 Million Miles (0.63%) were Motorcycle-Vehicle-Miles.
-Motorcycle Driver Relative Danger: In 2015 in the USA, there were 40 times more motorcycle drivers killed than passenger vehicle drivers per Vehilce-Mile.
Motorcycle Driver Fatalities per 100 Million Motorcycle-Miles = 23.9
Passenger Vehicle (Car) Driver Fatalities per 100 Million Passenger-Vehicle-Miles = 0.591
Note: Currently both cars and motorcycles carry the same number of drivers.
DATA SET 3: Crash Fatalities:
Includes Every Person (Everybody) fatally injured, who was and was not riding in or on a Vehicle-In-Transport. This includes Drivers, Passengers, Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and every other person fatally injured in crashes on public roads.
3A: Current Motorcycle Crash (Everybody) Fatalities:
For 2015, in crashes involving one or more motorcycles:
5,052 persons were fatally injured
4,976 were motorcyclists
4,684 were motorcycle drivers
289 were motorcycle passengers
76 were not on a motorcycle-in-transport (such as pedestrians killed by motorcycle strike).
3B: Historical Charts and Tables, Crash (Everybody) Fatalities:
USA 1991-2015 Crash Fatalities Historical Charts
USA 1991-2015 Passenger Vehicle Crash Fatalities (Everybody), by State in Passenger Vehicle Crahses, by State Download .xlxs Spreadsheet
3C: DangerOmeter! Measuring Societal Danger:
By considering Fatalities (Everybody) and Population, we can make scientific comparisons between states. We can rank the states by motorcycle danger weighted with the states’ passenger vehicle danger. In other words, we expect that if a state has a “culture of safety” such as a good road system that reduces collisions between all vehicles, that state should have a lower motorcycle collision rate as well. This can be measured. We call it the NMI DangerOmeter.
For a summary of the limitations of the data bases, please see this slide stack: Summary Presentation for understanding and translating your terms to FARS
1. Why does NMI historical data start with the year 1991, and not earlier?
NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) is the most complete database of motor vehicle fatalities available. The rules for data are defined by the FARS Encyclopedia and manuals, which occasionally are revised in response to changing technology and social pressures. In 1991, FARS changed the definitions for Motorcycles and for Passenger Vehicles. The 1991 revision makes it very cumbersome to compare current data to pre-1991 data. Fortunately, 1991-2016 is enough time (25 years) to detect trends. Because of revisions of the definitions in the FARS query elements, such as the 1991 revision for vehicle body-types, we caution readers against looking for trends in motorcycle fatality data going back farther than 1991. Please see this FARS Manual Table for reference.
1993 is an important start date for license compliance versus license status comparisons. FARS began recording License compliance for motorcycle drivers in 1988. A major revision was implemented in 1993. This is why we start with 1993 data for any charts or tables that involve license compliance. In 2004 there was an additional major refinement to be aware in the license compliance area. Please see this FARS element definition for License Status (D7) and License Compliance (D10).
2. Latest FARS Release is 2015 ARF 2014 FINAL (Released September 2016). 2016 data will be published in FARS by December 2017. The latest VMT data is 2015 (Released summer 2017). 2016 VMT data will be published by FHWA in summer of 2018.
3. Why does NMI use the Passenger Vehicle Data as a comparison group for historical comparisons instead of Registrations or Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)? In 2011 NHTSA changed the way registrations and VMT were calculated. NHTSA and the FARS Encyclopedia give explicit warning not to make historical comparisons between pre 2011 and post 2011. There are other concerns we have with historical registration data, however, we have a high confidence in the veracity of all the fatality data counts for passenger vehicle crashes and motorcycle crashes. Please see this FARS Encyclopedia Warning for reference.
4. The last major set of changes in the FARS was in 2012. Even the way the FARS data queries are selected were changed. Please scrutinize any queries data before 2012 to be sure of what is being presented. Technology and social changes, and what information is reported to NHTSA and the FARS, change over the decades. The essence of these changes over time are what create the need to further change and update definitions in the FARS Encyclopedia. For other examples, such as major changes in 1993 and 2004 for the License Status element, please see this FARS element definition for License Status (D7) and License Compliance (D10).
Source: Queries of 2015 (ARF) NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) September 2016 Release
Definition Explanation: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data base is used for all fatality counts. A request for a particular data set from the data base is called a query. The query element “Person Type” refers to all persons riding within or upon a vehicle. NHTSA uses the term “Motorcyclists” to refer to persons who are “Passengers and Drivers (or all Occupants) riding upon the motorcycle-in-transport.” When discussing fatality data, we suggest, using the terms, “Motorcycle Driver” and “Motorcycle Passenger,” instead of the ambiguous term “Motorcyclist.” While discussing fatality data, using terms that correspond to the FARS query elements will make it clear which persons are being counted: drivers, passengers, or occupants, on or in the vehicle-in-transport. Then direct comparisons of motorcycle to passenger vehicle data (drivers, passengers, occupants, and all-fatalities counts) will be clearly understandable. For more definitions and explanation of terms, please see: Definition of Terms on our Science Page.
Examples to disqualify the term “Rider” from motorcycle crash fatally data comparisons:
1. “The rider riding behind the RIDER is not a rider.”
2. “The RIDER fatally data should not be compared to rider fatality data from buses.”
“We are not taking a side on an issue. We share information that is factual. The truth does not have sides.” NMI